How to Help People in Timor-LesteTimor-Leste is a Southeast Asian country home to about 1.1 million people. The country is currently in a transitional period, recovering from political instability that occurred from 2006 to 2007. Progress has been made: since Timor-Leste’s 2002 independence, infant and child mortality have decreased by 50 percent, gains have been made in health and education and state institutions and democratic processes have strengthened. However, poverty in Timor-Leste is still high, particularly in rural areas. Here are a couple of ways to help people in Timor-Leste during this crucial post-conflict period.

1. Support NGOs working for the people of Timor-Leste
Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) are working to advance social and economic causes. CARE Australia is working to decrease the country’s 35 percent literacy rate and they are also working to improve maternal health in under-resourced rural communities. Oxfam Australia is also working to lift rural communities out of poverty through efforts to improve food security, essential services and infrastructure development. Peace Fund Timor-Leste collaborates and funds NGOs that focus on peace-building activities in the youth development area. Using these organizations as examples, a great way to help the people of Timor-Leste is to research more organizations, evaluate their impact and donate or volunteer your time.

2. Call Congress
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is doing essential work in Timor-Leste. They’ve deployed USAID community police officers to 442 villages to contribute to post-independence stability. USAID is also working to improve the skills of the Ministry of Health staff in reproductive, maternal and newborn health; Timor-Leste still has the highest maternal and under five mortality rates in Southeast Asia. USAID also assists in increasing farm income and improving nutrition for rural households throughout the nation. USAID has been working in Timor-Leste since the early 1980s, with both the government and other development partners; in the fiscal year 2016, the agency spent about $14 million in Timor-Leste. As of now, the 2017 fiscal budget is still under debate and USAID may be at risk of receiving budget cuts. One way to help is to contact Congress and urge them to protect the international affairs budget, particularly for the country of Timor-Leste.

On average, post-conflict countries take between 15 and 30 years to transition into stability. Considering this, Timor-Leste has made excellent progress thus far; however, there is still work to be done. The people of Timor-Leste deserve to live in a resilient nation where economic stability, political rights and social welfare are guaranteed to its citizens.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Flickr