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In 2002, Timor-Leste (East Timor) became the first new country of the 21st century. 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 in Timor-Leste.

ChildFund has served children in Timor-Leste since 1990. Help make a difference and sponsor a child today.  

ChildFund Timor-Leste supported 51 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and 67 neighborhood play groups, serving 2,300 children ages 5 and younger. Only 14 percent of this age group in Timor-Leste take part in early education and intellectual stimulation, according to a UNICEF report in 2014, leaving many children at risk of developmental delays. ChildFund also is working to make sure infants are registered and receive birth certificates so they can take advantage of their legal rights to healthcare and school. The Maternal and Child Health project, still in its pilot stage, aims to strengthen caregivers’ knowledge about feeding children, hygiene, healthcare and child care practices.

Our integrated approach for improving conditions for children continues into the school years. We involve children, their parents and educators to encourage active participation at school, including social and intellectual development. We also help spread the message that children deserve full educations, violence-free homes and schools, good nutrition and other necessary resources. We also support operational plans for providing education after natural disasters like 2016’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

In Timor-Leste, children are speaking out against corporal punishment at school by presenting short dramas promoting children’s rights and positive discipline. Although physical punishment at school is illegal, more than two-thirds of Timorese students reported being hit by adults at school in a national survey. Children Against Violence has performed its skits at schools, community events and at an International Children’s Day event in Covalima, where child trafficking and exploitation is common. Also, children take part in the Aflatoun program in some schools, learning to save their money for school supplies.

ChildFund offers entrepreneurial training through a youth employment project, to help provide youth with sustainable livelihoods for earning fair wages. A group of 100 youth from the Bobonaro and Covalima districts have gone through business, technical and vocational training, preparing them to start their own businesses or get good jobs in tourism, construction and agriculture. Many training institutions are in the capital of Dili, which gives the youth a change of scenery. Unemployment is at 24 percent among youth in Timor-Leste, much higher than the 9.5 percent rate among the general population. This project, which will continue two more years, is expected to reach 600 young people. We also are exploring partnerships in Covalima with two private training institutions.


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  • November 14, 2021

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January 1 New Year's Day
May 1 Labor Day
May 20 Independence Restoration Day
August 15 Assumption Day
September 20 Liberation Day
November 1 All Saints Day
November 28 National Heroes Day
December 25 Christmas Day
Culture Timor Leste: Politics, History, and Culture
Novel Redundancy of Courage
Documentary Where the Sun Rises: A Hero's Journey
Documentary Following Antigone
Ethnography The Women of East Timor Ethnography
Music Music From the Southeast: Sumbawa, Sumba, Timor
Cookbook Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters