Published on 20th June 2014
With a little help from his friends at the New Zealand Embassy in Dili and the RNZAF, volunteer Josh Brooks has organised 10 laptops for training at Belun. Josh is on his second VSA assignment, as a Database Adviser with Belun, a Timor-Leste NGO set up to bolster civil society in Timor-Leste. The organisation works with 90 community-based organisations across all 13 districts of the country, and focuses its work in the areas of conflict prevention, government policy development and community capacity development.
Josh said he’d helped to run a successful Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course for staff, but “it really highlighted how much effort it is to set up computer systems for training, when we had to rely on people having access to a laptop suitable to run the software we used. And out in the districts, the computer systems just weren't capable of being used due to their age and trouble with the system set up.”
Josh determined they’d need computers that were modern and built tough, able to be loaded with the software needed to run IT training courses. Buying them in Timor-Leste, Josh says, “wasn’t an option due to cost. Fortunately there's a good market in New Zealand for second-hand laptops, and I procured 10 Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, a few years old but still very capable and in fact the same model I use today.”
With assistance from fellow volunteer Christiana Eligius, who is volunteering as an Office Administration Systems Adviser with the Dili Institute of Technology, and the New Zealand Embassy, Josh has organised for the laptops to arrive later this month on an RNZAF C130 flight.
Josh says he’s delighted at the way the different New Zealand and Timor-Leste organisations have cooperated to make a vital service available. While the training will initially be with Belun and its partner groups in the Timor-Leste National Humanitarian Database project, Josh says word got out quickly, so it will be available more widely.
“We will be able to load all the necessary tools and software to take with us to any venue available. There is a real desire here to learn IT skills, it's the lack of people with knowledge and the lack of equipment that holds people back.”