“I’m happy and am rejoicing because I am graduating” – Balbino

For many young Kiwis the completion of a tertiary qualification is an achievement that prepares them for the next part of their life. But for Balbino- his graduation represents a way out of poverty.

In October, Balbino Bere Mau graduated from a Tourism and Hospitality course- and couldn’t be happier. He and 13 other young people from the Bobonaro district, spent 10 months developing their hospitality and culinary skills.

More than 60 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population is under the age of 25. These young people are both the hope of the nation and its biggest challenge. They often lack in essential life and livelihood skills and are often undervalued by adults. This gives them little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty.

ChildFund New Zealand supports young people like Balbino to gain a tertiary qualification and valuable skills. “The project helped youth like us whose parents could not afford to pay for us to continue in university,” said Balbino.

With funding from the New Zealand Government’s Aid Programme, ChildFund is working with the Government of Timor-Leste and local institutes to increase leadership, livelihood and life skills for youth aged 15-24 years. And 27-year-old Balbino almost missed out on the opportunity that could’ve changed his life forever.

The project is aimed at helping youth develop skills in areas with market opportunities (such as the tourism and hospitality industry). This gives them a greater chance of gaining meaningful employment once they have graduated.

Balbino extended his sincerest gratitude and thanks to the Kiwis that provided him with the opportunity and a future he could look forward to. His plans for the future include opening a restaurant in his hometown and giving back to his community, in any way he can.

“I like to work in the kitchen and also enjoy giving excellent customer service. When we go back to our district we will bring the new skills that we learned during 10 months… we youth can contribute our skills to the country”.

Twenty-year-old Epirina Ribeiro graduated along with Balbino. Epirina however couldn’t completely rejoice the same way Balbino did- as the end of the course also meant the end of classes with friends. Epirina also mentioned that her favourite part of the course was the part that involved Customer Service training because it enabled her to communicate with people.

“When we came to this place we didn’t know anything. But now we have learned about cooking, housekeeping, customer service and the English language”. She feels the last 10 months empowered her to pursue a career in the Tourism and Hospitality industry.

“Today I am finishing my course and believe I can contribute something to the Tourism and Hospitality industry. I would like to thank you for your continued support for youth like us”.

If you would like to support Timor-Leste’s future, you can sponsor a child with ChildFund.

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