Community Economic Development Facilitator

Project Description

Timor-Leste is a young and vibrant democracy. After 25 years of occupation, it was recognized as an independent state in 2002. Community Economic Development (CED) Volunteers will serve in rural villages and work alongside host country counterparts to increase the economic and livelihood opportunities in their communities. Specifically, Volunteers will work with their Timorese counterparts to (1) strengthen the economic security of individuals in their communities and (2) promote the abilities of organizations to operate effectively.

Volunteers’ may be placed in cooperatives, farmers, youth, or women’s groups, micro-lending groups, local non-governmental organizations, local government offices, municipality administrations, or community based organizations. Depending on their worksite, Volunteers may work with their counterparts on a variety of topics that could include business planning, strategic planning, marketing, financial management, product design, project design & management, organizational development, and quality control. Volunteers will learn and apply participatory tools for development in order to best work with their Counterparts and the broader community to identify their needs and action plans. Volunteers working with individuals or community groups, will work together to implement promising practices of management of income and expenses, leading to greater household stability and capacity in entrepreneurship, computers, and employability skills (including English language).
Volunteers’ work will be centered around working alongside counterparts and community members to:

1. Conduct community and/or organization needs assessments;
2. Build community members’ (especially youth) and/or staff capacity in English, computer literacy, financial literacy, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, employability, networking, etc.;
3. Train and/or advise on project planning, design and management;
4. Build community and organizational capacity to apply and utilize tools/systems for strategic planning; and
5. Train and coach community members or groups in managing a business.

Volunteers will need to be observant and respectful, taking the time to build relationships within their organizations and communities, in order to better navigate within the frameworks of work and cultural values. Community members expect Volunteers to speak the local language, respect and value the Timorese culture, and find ways to transfer skills. Community members appreciate when Volunteers work to create change through education, role modeling, demonstration, inspiration, and motivation.

In addition, since nearly 70% of the population of Timor-Leste is under the age of 25 and many young people are neither in school nor working, Volunteers are encouraged to work with their counterparts and communities to engage youth to build and apply entrepreneurial skills and/or employability skills. It is very common that colleagues, a community leaders, school principals, youth groups, or community organizations will request Volunteers to teach English. English is considered a significant, marketable skill for employment and staff capacity in Timor-Leste and therefore CED volunteers should expect to teach English and/or facilitate English language clubs during their service. Teaching English can overlap with other CED-related activities, such as teaching financial literacy, entrepreneurship, the importance of personal money management, etc. By teaching this highly sought after skill, English can be an opportunity to establish relationships and build trust in the community.
Volunteers will need to exhibit flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity as the Peace Corps Timor-Leste program re-establishes itself post COVID-19 evacuation and strives to address the Government of Timor-Leste’s dynamic needs.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

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

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field with professional business experience.
• 5 years of professional experience in business management.
• Demonstrated experience in supporting entrepreneurship or teaching the basics of business.
• Commitment to serving a community at their pace, level, and according to the community’s priorities, as demonstrated through experience coaching, mentoring, and/or organizing community activities.

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 nine to ten weeks of training. Tetun is not grammatically complex and uses the Latin alphabet. Volunteers find it relatively easy to achieve the required Intermediate-Mid proficiency and many go on to an Advanced level after serving at site for some time. 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 their knowledge of those languages helpful in their Tetun studies. Many Timorese also speak Bahasa Indonesian and Volunteers will be taught some common words that are used by Timorese.

Living Conditions

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. This connection to a respected family in the community creates opportunities for Volunteers to build relationships with other community members, which forms the foundation for an effective service. The experience of living with a Timorese family is often one of the most rewarding aspects of service. Homestays enrich the intercultural goals of the Peace Corps, and support Volunteers to establish collaborative social positions within their communities, and generously provide them with contextually secure and supportive living environments, including continued opportunities for language practice, learning, and intercultural exchange. Volunteers regularly cite their relationships with their host families, both at PST and their permanent site, as a highlight of their service. Host families in Timor-Leste are large and multi-generational. It is common to have 4 or more children. Ninety-seven percent of Timorese are Catholic and attending church is an important community activity. Smoking cigarettes is common, and family elders might chew betelnut. While alcohol is often provided at weddings and some community events, drinking is frowned upon, especially for women, and being intoxicated is detrimental to a person’s reputation and credibility.

Timor-Leste has 13 municipalities, each ranging in population from 50,000 to 120,000. Most Volunteers will be placed in rural areas—at the village (suco) or sub-village (aldeia) level—often with populations of under 2,000 people. A few may be placed in a district capital (vila), but Volunteers are not placed in the capital city, Dili, and it can take Volunteers between four to eight hours by public transportation to get to the capital.
Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season, December-April. Volunteers 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. Road re-construction efforts are frequent, and travel time can be affected by this.

Amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone reception 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. 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 coverage.

While crime is not a serious problem in rural areas, there have been instances of theft from houses occupied by foreigners. In addition, Volunteers report frequent episodes of unwanted attention when outside of their host communities, on public transportation, and in Dili. This can be uncomfortable and stressful. Post provides training and mitigation strategies to prepare Volunteers for these situations and to understand how to manage them.

Serving in Timor-Leste

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

Post can accept mixed program couples only, i.e. one spouse in CED and one spouse in ED.
Peace Corps Timor-Leste can accommodate couples serving together in different sectors. Therefore, their partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

English Education

Couples should consist of a male and a female. Couples should be prepared to live apart during Pre-Service Training. Once couples moves to their sites, they will live with a host family for their full two years of service. While couples will have their own room in the household, they will share living spaces with their host family. This means they may not have as much privacy to which they are accustomed.

Couples serving in Timor-Leste may receive pressure to adhere to more traditional gender roles. They will likely be asked how many kids they have, and may receive encouragement to have children if they do not have any. Couples who have served in Timor-Leste have found that they can politely navigate this situation, and that, while Timorese people will comment on their situation, that they are generally afforded more respect than their unmarried colleagues. Overall, couples have done well and are happy serving in Timor-Leste.

Most Timorese couples are married in the church, though some are considered fully married after an engagement ceremony between the bride and grooms families, especially if a Church wedding is impractical or the related celebrations unaffordable at the time of engagement.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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