Our Volunteers: Heath Thompson volunteering in Timor-Leste

Fundacao Lafaek Diak

Former volunteer Linh Nguyen participating in community life
Fundação Lafaek Diak (FLD) is a small local non government organisation working for community development in Baucau, Viqueque and Lautém districts of Timor-Leste.

FLD’s programs cover four areas of community development; community-based health care, small business development, education and training and agricultural development. It’s primary project is the running of the Triloka clinic which provides direct health care to around 10 villages in the Baucau district. FLD is dedicated to participatory development methods and to working towards self reliant and sufficient communities in Timor-Leste.

As a relatively young NGO, with a revenue base predominantly from international English-speaking donors, Fundacao Lafaek Diak sought a volunteer from Palms Australia to assist with system development, administration, program support, reporting to international donors and mentoring and accompanying local staff to improve their capacity to manage these aspects of the program in the future.

Heath Thompson

Palms Australia recruited Heath Thompson to fill the position of Volunteer Organisational Development Officer for Fundacao Lafaek Diak.

Heath has completed tertiary studies with a major in International Studies. He has travelled to both Indonesia and East Timor before and has an understanding of both Bahasa Indonesia and Tetum – two of the most common languages in East Timor. He has previously volunteered both in Australia and Timor-Leste.

In letters of recommendation, Heath has been described as well-organised and conscientious, with an enquiring mind, an aptitude for problem solving, outstanding communication skills and a firm sense of social responsibility.

FLD’s director and Palms Australia believe Heath will play an important role in assisting build the capacity of FLD over the next two years.  To help us in this work, please contribute by completing the donation form on the right of the page.

A Grassroots Approach to Development

August 10, 2012

Palms staff Barry Hinton (left) and Christine (centre-right) with volunteer John Chang (centre-left), Fr Angelo (third from left), Sr Angelita (third from right) and other staff from Dili Diocese.
In Timor-Leste three-quarters of the population living below the poverty line reside in rural areas (Australia-Timor-Leste Country Strategy 2009 to 2014 p.3) Palms Australia continues to receive requests for volunteers from grass roots communities and organisations to assist build capacities across the health, education and agricultural sectors.

During a recent trip to Timor-Leste, I met with the Teachers, Principals, Community Representatives, Parish Priests and Sisters in Uatacarabau, Natarbora, and Hatubuilico where volunteers have been requested to provide mentoring and training for English and Computer teachers at the primary and secondary schools and within the wider community. Whilst the teachers that we met strive to provide a comprehensive education for their students, they are often limited by the lack of resources, infrastructure and expertise in some areas.

Having the assistance of Palms volunteers will enable opportunities for new skills to be developed, both in schools and in the wider community, providing more inclusive development opportunities for women, young people and people with disabilities.

Further requests for volunteers to assist in training and mentoring in maternal health and dental programs have come from the districts of Ermera, Baucau and in Dili city.

The communities and organisations with whom Palms works with discern and identify their own needs and priorities. In partnering together, we are able to establish a common understanding of what can be achieved and how.

This year our volunteers in Timor-Leste have been training and mentoring in Maliana (Margaret Fogarty, Marilyn Tangey and Melissa Martin), Lolotoe (Thuy Nguyen), Atabae (Margaret and David Hall, Anne Chapman, Sharon Hearns and Ian Gray), Hatubuilico (Damian Rake and Miriam Buchhorn), Baucau (Heath Thompson) and Dili (Corinne and Tim Lawther and John Chang).

Palms hopes to continue responding to and supporting communities and organisations who are determining their own needs and sourcing solutions to build their own capacity relevant to their context.

What is volunteering?

May 22, 2012

I learnt so much throughout my placement both professionally and personally. I learnt to be patient; most good development takes time. I learnt to be flexible; sometimes I wasn’t right in what I thought, so it was important for me to listen to find the right path for development.

Click here to read the full article

Field Trips: Developing Relationships

August 29, 2011

Seeing the assignment locations and meeting the partners firsthand allows Palms’ staff to make some difficult decisions when it comes to prioritising one placement over another when faced with limited numbers of volunteers or limited funds required to send them.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Heath Thompson's placement has completed, but you can still help us provide volunteers to many other communities by using the form below.

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As Heath Thompson's volunteer placement has ended, your donation will be placed towards the costs of sending and supporting other Palms volunteers to exchange skills with our partner communities. For more information contact Palms Australia.

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Population: 1,292,755

Area: 15,007 sq. km.

Median Age: 21.5

Literacy: 58.6 %

Languages: Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian, about 16 indigenous languages

A brief history of independence. mid 1500s – Timor colonised by Portugal 1859 – Portugal cedes West Timor to the Dutch 1942-1945 – Japan occupies East Timor 28 November 1975 – East Timor declared independent from Portugal 7 December 1975 – invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It is estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 were killed […]

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And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. - Marianne Williamson