Community Economic Development Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Community Economic Development (CED) Volunteers will be serving in a newly revised more focused project, addressing the need for improving economic opportunities and building on the successes of the first four groups returning to Timor-Leste. There are two interlinked aspects of the project: (1) improving an organization’s ability to operate effectively and (2) improving economic security of individuals in the community.

CED Volunteers’ work partners may be cooperatives, farmers / youth / women’s groups, micro-lending groups, local non-governmental organizations, local government officials, municipality administrations, or community based organizations. Volunteers will train and advise the groups in business planning, strategic planning, marketing, financial management, product design, project design & management, organizational development, quality and consistency. Volunteers will also teach individuals in their assigned organization and the broader community how to manage income and expenses, leading to greater household stability and capacity in entrepreneurship, computers, and employability (including English language skills).

As a post-conflict country with poor infrastructure and public systems, most people have not been exposed to effective systems, so may lack the vision on how to effectively manage their organization or group. They have not had opportunities to learn or develop management skills. In general the leadership style in many local organizations is traditional and hierarchical with the influence of a patriarchal culture in most parts of Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste is facing a huge unskilled youth bubble with nearly 70% of the population under the age of 25. Many of the young people are neither in school nor working. Consequently, Volunteers are encouraged to look for ways to engage youth to build and apply entrepreneurial skills and/or employability skills when working with their assigned organizations and communities.
Volunteers’ work is centered around:
1. Conducting community and / or organization needs assessment
2. Building community member (especially youth) and / or staff capacity in English, computers, planning, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, employability, networking, etc.
3. Training and / or advising on project planning, design and management
4. Building community and organizational capacity to apply and utilize tools / systems for strategic planning
5. Training and coaching community members or groups in managing a business

It is very common to come across request for English teaching from staff, a community leader, school principal, youth group, or community organizations. English is considered a significant employability and staff capacity skill in Timor-Leste and, hence, CED volunteers should expect to teach English and / or facilitate English language clubs. Teaching English also is an opportunity to establish a relationship and then build trust. English class or a soccer game can be a good way to get to know people, what they do etc. At the same time, it can also be capitalized on as an opportunity to combine other CED related activities, such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, the importance of personal money management trainings, etc.

Timor-Leste is a young and vibrant democracy. Volunteers will have a rare opportunity to be working among the nation’s heroes and freedom fighters that are still active in leading the nation. Most communities have experience with development projects sponsored by large international donor organizations, yet they are seeking a different kind of partnership with Peace Corps. Community members expect Peace Corps Volunteers to speak the local language, respect and value the Timorese culture, and find ways to transfer skills. They appreciate when Volunteers work to create change through education, role modeling, demonstration, inspiration, and motivation.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

• Previous teaching or tutoring experience, and / or working with youth and adult learners
• Demonstration of cross-cultural skills from previous experience related to varying power dynamics, communication styles, and concepts of time
• Leadership and teamwork skills related to identifying community needs and priorities and working with groups of different ages and backgrounds
• Ability to work in a potentially unstructured environment with limited resources

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Volunteers will learn the country’s official language, Tetun, during Pre-Service Training and must demonstrate intermediate proficiency after 9-10 weeks of training. Many Volunteers will also learn a local language or dialect spoken in their district.

Since Portuguese is the National language and many words have been incorporated into Tetun, Portuguese and Spanish speakers will find that helpful in Timor-Leste. Many Timorese also speak Bahasa Indonesian and Volunteers will be taught some of the common words that are used by Timorese.

Living Conditions

- Underdeveloped Infrastructure: Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season. You may have to walk or cycle as much as one hour over rugged terrain to the main road to catch public transportation (small truck or mini-bus) to a larger city. In addition, there has been a growth in road construction throughout the country so travel can be affected by this.

- Utilities/telecommunications: Amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone reception will vary from site to site. There may be periods of time without electricity. Cell phone coverage is improving but there are still some “dead” zones. Internet connectivity is slow and expensive, although most Volunteers can access internet at least once a week. One or two telephone service providers have an office with a mini internet café in some municipalities. Accessing internet through data usage is very common in the districts. Some Volunteers have more than one sim card from different providers to take advantage of different data packages and offerings.

- Housing: Volunteers are required to live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and another host family at their permanent site during their full two years of service. Building relationships starts from the host family during PST and then continues at the permanent site. Host families in Timor-Leste are large and multi-generational, including many children. It is common for many members of the host family to smoke cigarettes.

- Unwanted attention: Volunteers report frequent episodes of unwanted attention on public transportation and in the capital city of Dili. This can be uncomfortable and stressful.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Timor-Leste: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

In Timor-Leste, couples are married by the church or simply by parents mutually agreeing that their adult children are married.

Couples serving in Timor-Leste are likely to be asked about how many kids they have. A couple may experience pressure to have children if they do not have any. Married couples serving get pressure to adhere to more traditional gender roles. However, in general, couples have done well and are happy serving as a couple in Timor-Leste.

Medical Considerations in Timor-Leste

  • Timor-Leste may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten.
  • After arrival in Timor-Leste, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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