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VSA in Timor-Leste

Flag of Timor-Leste

VSA has been in Timor-Leste since 2002. We work with partners to bring skills and knowledge to individual citizens to improve their income and job opportunities. In 2007 VSA was forced to suspend its programme following a period of civil unrest, but was able to return in November 2008. VSA has a field office in Dili, staffed by a Programme Manager.


Living and Working in Timor-Leste


Language and culture

VSA assignments last up to two years, so local language training is important. We provide a three-week Tetun language training course at the start of assignments and follow-up training if necessary.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. In Timor-Leste there is great importance placed on greetings and first impressions. It’s important to remember to engage in ‘small talk’ before getting down to business. Try to avoid negative statements and making people lose face. Under no circumstances should you criticise or correct someone in front of a group – it would be more appropriate and acceptable if you were to do this in private.

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation.

Electricity supply in Dili can be erratic. The town water supply is either pumped from the mountains or from local wells, although neither source is entirely reliable. All houses have an Asian water container (called a mandi) for non-supply periods. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

Timor-Leste is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose-fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men choose long pants, and short- sleeved shirts for work. For women, dresses, skirts and short-sleeved shirts are commonly worn in work situations. Revealing clothing should not be worn in public places including churches and markets.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of Timor-Leste and all volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Dengue Fever is also present. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Medical and dental facilities are limited; expatriates go to one of two private clinics or the Dili National Hospital. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during in-country orientation. Despite the generally stable situation in Timor-Leste, security incidents do occur and you should maintain a level of personal security awareness as you go about.

Banking and finances

The main commercial bank in Dili is the ANZ Bank. We open a local US dollar bank account for all volunteers on arrival in Timor-Leste where monthly living allowances are paid into.  The bank operates various ATMs in Dili, and some are accessible 24 hours. ATMs are subject to occasional downtimes due to a lack of electricity. When they are offline, cash can be obtained from the bank but only out of a local account or from Visa/Mastercard credit cards. Local currency is the US dollar with Timorese coins. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

Cellular phones have pretty good coverage in and around Dili. This is extending slowly into the rest of Timor-Leste and competitors to the government provider are now entering the market. Landlinesare not common but can be used for both local and international calls.

Internet connections can be slow compared to New Zealand. There are a number of internet cafes in Dili with access to broadband. If you have your own laptop you can also access Skype. Internet access is more limited outside Dili.

 

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In-country partner profile

Empreza Di’ak

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Meet Karen Horton

An interview with Karen Horton, Programme Manager (Timor-Leste)

Karen is our Programme Manager (Timor-Leste).

Read more

Quick facts


  • At the end of the Indonesian regime there was significant violence. Most of the country's infrastructure - including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, schools and nearly 100% of the country's electrical - grid were destroyed.

  • Some of the banyan trees on the Dili foreshore are more than 100 years old.

  • “Timor” comes from the Malay word for “East”.

  • The island of Timor is part of the Malay Archipelago and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

  • There are about 16 indigenous languages. The official languages are Tetum and Portuguese. Majority languages are Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak.

  • The main religion is Roman Catholicism (98% of the population).

  • The currency is the US dollar.

  • Timor-Leste has a Human Development Index rating of 134.
Source: CIA Factbook , Lonely Planet Timor-Leste , UN Development Programme International human development indicators

See how this compares to NZ standards

NZ Quick Facts


  • New Zealand’s wildlife is dominated by an estimated 245 bird species. New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other place on earth and no native land mammals except for bats.

  • Auckland is the biggest city. The other main centres are Hamilton, Wellington (the capital), Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • New Zealand has a Human Development Index rating of 6.

  • Polynesian settlers arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand around the 10th century. The first Europeans to visit the country were Dutch explorers led by Abel Tasman in 1642.

  • The Māori name for the country is Aotearoa: “land of the long white cloud.” The English name New Zealand comes from the Dutch Nieuw Zeeland, a region in the Netherlands.

  • In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi established British law and government, and was followed by warfare in the 1840s and 1860s as Māori sought to defend their lands and local authority. The country became a dominion of Britain in 1907 and became independent in

  • The official languages are English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

  • New Zealand has more than 50 volcanoes, some of which are still active.

  • New Zealand has about 0.1% of the world’s population, but produces about 0.3% of the world’s material output.

Contact

If you are interested in becoming an in-country partner organisation with VSA in Timor-Leste, contact us at the address below. Alternatively, email us by clicking the 'Contact us' button right at the bottom of this page.

VSA Timor-Leste, PO Box 101, Dili, TIMOR-LESTE



Caroline Phillips

VSA volunteer profiles

Caroline Phillips – Vocational Training Adviser - Hospitality and Tourism

Caroline Phillips is volunteering as a Vocational Training Adviser in Hospitality and Tourism with Sentru Dezenvolvimentu Rekursu Aprendizajen. She will complete her assignment in November 2014. View Profile


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There are 1,172,390 people living in Timor-Leste (formerly known as East Timor). The country has suffered a violent history through decades of struggle for independence from Indonesia. Timor-Leste gained this independence in 1999, with support from UN peacekeepers until their departure in 2013.

Timor-Leste is the second most oil dependent economy in the world with the country’s offshore natural gas and oil reserves providing the majority of Government funds. Coffee is the main private sector export commodity, while aid money continues to support the development of infrastructure and buildings.

Timor-Leste is a conservative, largely traditional culture with strong Christian values. Elders and church and community leaders have very high status in the community.

 

TIMOR page pic 1 TIMOR page pic 3

What we’re doing in Timor-Leste

 

Read staff blogs, volunteer blogs and news from Timor-Leste.

Following the election results in April 2012, VSA reaffirmed plans to extend our programmes in Timor-Leste.

The number of children completing school is low and the high birth rate will soon put pressure on an already struggling education system. The unemployment rate is high in Timor-Leste especially among young people and there is an urgent need to stimulate economic growth. By working in accreditation and with vocational training providers, our volunteers are helping to ensure young people have access to training which equips them for employment.

Approximately 75 per cent of the population live in rural areas and practice subsistence agriculture. The financial and administrative skills our volunteers share help individuals and communities grow their own businesses and provide more for their families.

 

Latest on Timor-Leste

April 2014 photo of the month

April 2014 photo of the month

April's photo of the month was taken by Kees Sprengers, formerly an accompanying partner in Timor-Leste, who went back on... Read More


Cristina
Catarina
Simon Marsters

Living and Working in Timor-Leste


Language and culture

VSA assignments last up to two years, so local language training is important. We provide a three-week Tetun language training course at the start of assignments and follow-up training if necessary.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. In Timor-Leste there is great importance placed on greetings and first impressions. It’s important to remember to engage in ‘small talk’ before getting down to business. Try to avoid negative statements and making people lose face. Under no circumstances should you criticise or correct someone in front of a group – it would be more appropriate and acceptable if you were to do this in private.

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation.

Electricity supply in Dili can be erratic. The town water supply is either pumped from the mountains or from local wells, although neither source is entirely reliable. All houses have an Asian water container (called a mandi) for non-supply periods. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

Timor-Leste is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose-fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men choose long pants, and short- sleeved shirts for work. For women, dresses, skirts and short-sleeved shirts are commonly worn in work situations. Revealing clothing should not be worn in public places including churches and markets.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of Timor-Leste and all volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Dengue Fever is also present. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Medical and dental facilities are limited; expatriates go to one of two private clinics or the Dili National Hospital. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during in-country orientation. Despite the generally stable situation in Timor-Leste, security incidents do occur and you should maintain a level of personal security awareness as you go about.

Banking and finances

The main commercial bank in Dili is the ANZ Bank. We open a local US dollar bank account for all volunteers on arrival in Timor-Leste where monthly living allowances are paid into.  The bank operates various ATMs in Dili, and some are accessible 24 hours. ATMs are subject to occasional downtimes due to a lack of electricity. When they are offline, cash can be obtained from the bank but only out of a local account or from Visa/Mastercard credit cards. Local currency is the US dollar with Timorese coins. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

Cellular phones have pretty good coverage in and around Dili. This is extending slowly into the rest of Timor-Leste and competitors to the government provider are now entering the market. Landlinesare not common but can be used for both local and international calls.

Internet connections can be slow compared to New Zealand. There are a number of internet cafes in Dili with access to broadband. If you have your own laptop you can also access Skype. Internet access is more limited outside Dili.

 

Living and Working in Timor-Leste
Language and culture

VSA assignments last up to two years, so local language training is important. We provide a three-week Tetun language training course at the start of assignments and follow-up training if necessary.

Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. In Timor-Leste there is great importance placed on greetings and first impressions. It’s important to remember to engage in ‘small talk’ before getting down to business. Try to avoid negative statements and making people lose face. Under no circumstances should you criticise or correct someone in front of a group – it would be more appropriate and acceptable if you were to do this in private.

Housing and living conditions

We provide our volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation.

Electricity supply in Dili can be erratic. The town water supply is either pumped from the mountains or from local wells, although neither source is entirely reliable. All houses have an Asian water container (called a mandi) for non-supply periods. Mains water supply is not recommended for drinking so boil water, use a purifier or drink bottled water.

Dress standards

Timor-Leste is a conservative country and some western style clothing is not appropriate. Loose-fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men choose long pants, and short- sleeved shirts for work. For women, dresses, skirts and short-sleeved shirts are commonly worn in work situations. Revealing clothing should not be worn in public places including churches and markets.

Health

Malaria is endemic in the majority of Timor-Leste and all volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Dengue Fever is also present. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Medical and dental facilities are limited; expatriates go to one of two private clinics or the Dili National Hospital. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing prior to departure and specific local issues are covered during in-country orientation. Despite the generally stable situation in Timor-Leste, security incidents do occur and you should maintain a level of personal security awareness as you go about.

Banking and finances

The main commercial bank in Dili is the ANZ Bank. We open a local US dollar bank account for all volunteers on arrival in Timor-Leste where monthly living allowances are paid into.  The bank operates various ATMs in Dili, and some are accessible 24 hours. ATMs are subject to occasional downtimes due to a lack of electricity. When they are offline, cash can be obtained from the bank but only out of a local account or from Visa/Mastercard credit cards. Local currency is the US dollar with Timorese coins. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

Cellular phones have pretty good coverage in and around Dili. This is extending slowly into the rest of Timor-Leste and competitors to the government provider are now entering the market. Landlinesare not common but can be used for both local and international calls.

Internet connections can be slow compared to New Zealand. There are a number of internet cafes in Dili with access to broadband. If you have your own laptop you can also access Skype. Internet access is more limited outside Dili.