Our Volunteers: John Chang volunteering in Timor-Leste

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Barry Fr Angelo John Sr Angelita and staff from Dili Diocese Youth DepartmentDiocese of Dili

The Catholic Diocese of Dili is the largest of three Catholic Dioceses in East Timor, a country with a population estimated to be 98% Catholic. The Catholic church plays an important role, not only in spiritual guidance but also providing social services, particularly in areas where the government is not able to meet demands such as education, health and youth services. In addition to the centralised services, there are also many localised programs based at one of the Diocese’s 28 parishes in the surrounding districts.

Dili Diocese has identified particular challenges for the youth of Dili, including the need for programs to provide hope for young people looking for education and livelihoods.  The programs include training in useful skills for employment, including computing, financial management, English and other office skills.  A request was placed with Palms Australia for a volunteer who could both assist with delivering youth programs and contribute to more efficient and effective program design and management.

John Chang

Palms Australia recruited John Chang, a Business Consultant from Sydney, in 2011 to volunteer for Dili Diocese for 2 years.

John has diverse administrative experience, involving accountancy, financial planning, consulting on strategic business decision-making and as a Migration Agent and Justice of the Peace.

In addition to John’s business skills, he is also fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, one of the main languages of Timor-Leste and a particularly useful language for working with youth who, born during the years of Indonesian occupation, have little understanding of Portuguese.

John’s placement costs were partially supported by AusAID’s volunteer fund, with Palms Australia and its supporters covering the remainder of the costs.

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.


6 months in

May 22, 2012

The centre is dedicated to build capacity and develop leadership skills for the poor; to increase the independence of the vulnerable and
young unemployed men and women. And so far it is showing a positive channel with a good result in keeping the youth off the streets.

Click here to read the full article

Orientation Course #92

August 29, 2011

Simulation exercises provide a deep insight into the challenges of working cross-culturally for development, and some useful tools. Pictured: Lawrence Chan, Fulvio Fabreschi, Ian Gray and Margaret Fogarty engage in nuanced trade negotiations.

There is something very rewarding about watching such a group interact, sharing their own expertise while working through Palms’ cross-cultural program, refined over 50 years.

Click here to read the full article

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John Chang'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 John Chang'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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Timor-Leste

timor-leste

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 […]

More on Timor-Leste

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand. - Chinese proverb