Voices of youth shine through in new Timor-Leste programme
Voices of Youth - East Timor update: Youth and children are agents for positive change in their communities.
Youth Changemakers is a youth skills training initiative run by ChildFund, our local partner Ba Futuru, World Vision and other local organisations in Timor-Leste. Youth Changemakers is about creating leaders in the community who will encourage positive change, the programme is evidence based and is collaborative.
Youth Changemakers builds on a project piloted by ChildFund and Ba Futuru in Covalima and Bobinaro from 2018 to 2020, starting after community consultation identified a gap in youth leadership, engagement and development.
ChildFund’s work in Timor-Leste focuses on the social and emotional wellbeing of youth in five districts in Lautem, these are largely out-of school youth. Iliomar and Luro have been identified as the most vulnerable areas and are the initial project areas.
Baseline survey and research in December 2020 shows that youth are overwhelmingly eager to contribute to positive change for themselves and their communities. They recognise the importance of educational and training opportunities and are clear about the challenges that prevent them from meeting their potential. Challenges include the need to travel long distances in junior high school, language barriers to educational achievement at secondary school, the lack of job opportunities and the lack of financial support for studying. There is also a need for facilities and activities for older youth, like sports and recreation hubs. Parents also took part in the baseline research and had similar concerns to the youth.
It is clear that with the appropriate support, older youth are eager to develop their skills and leadership and be agents for positive change in their communities. School students are very keen in having Youth Changemakers involved in providing support and education on social issues, hence encouraging opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and support while also addressing some of the concerns raised by the youth.
“We have challenges such as youth in the school and the community still lack in self-confidence. Most of the young people are still not able to fully participate in the school activities as well as in the community activities, because they are shy, they never attend any particular trainings. Therefore, we would like to ask youth leaders both in school and in the community to initiate some practical activities to encourage youth to participate in,” said an 18-year-old female in Timor-Leste.
“Youth leaders must work with us to initiate some fun activities, for example, instead of sports all the time, maybe we could have some training on theatre to address some sensitive issues raised in schools and community,” said a 16-year-old female student.
Our work in Timor
Home to more than 1.2 million people, the Timorese population is young and vulnerable; more than 52 percent are under 25 years old. Completion rates in primary and secondary education are low, and youth unemployment is high. Widespread poverty, high infant mortality rates and a persisting legacy of violence are post-independence challenges.
About 1,000 New Zealanders support ChildFund's work in Timor-Leste every month.