Lafaek—CARE’s Timor-Leste educational magazine, supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, is an educational resource covering four editions distributed to preschool and primary school-aged children, teachers, and the community. The magazine focuses on educational themes around inclusion, supporting literacy and numeracy targets, the environment, and healthy well-being. Distributed to each of the 13 municipalities in Timor-Leste, the magazine's outreach is crucial in achieving the goal of quality education for all children in Timor-Leste.

VSA volunteer, Cameron Tonkin, worked as the Social Enterprise and Communication Assistant for the magazine. His contributions included supporting the development of high-quality, engaging communications content across Lafaek's social media platforms to inform the followers of Lafaek's activities to promote their inspirational messages to the youth.

“As social media and its responsible use are important in the context of Timor-Leste's youthful demographic, Lafaek, one of Timor-Leste's most followed pages, plays a vital role in the information and educational space”.

Tonkin’s tasks also included developing a draft marketing strategy. This strategy focused on monetising Lafaek’s brand recognition and extensive social media reach towards potential partnership opportunities, enabling Lafaek to become more financially sustainable in the long term.

“I was delighted to support Lafaek's outreach activities involving press release reviews, communications materials for our partners, and participating in community dialogues. I also attended discussions with political and community leaders and was involved in the production of video content for social media”.

Working together to build enduring relationships with individuals, partners, and communities is how volunteers, no matter where in the world, make the biggest impact. And Cameron has fulfilled that role as a UniVol…

“As a volunteer, the relationships you build during your assignment play a massive role in gaining new experiences within the culture. I was very honoured to be able to experience multiple Timorese weddings and enjoy social gatherings with colleagues outside of work, which have created unforgettable memories. One of my wins was holding a Tetum conversation in everyday life, such as ordering food and giving directions. It is a massive boost of self-assurance and confidence knowing that you are progressing with settling in-country and that your language practice is paying off”.

Cameron's collaboration with the Lafaek team has resulted in enhanced educational outcomes for Timor-Leste's future. On the other hand, life in Timor-Leste has provided Cameron with unforgettable memories…

Some of the best memories I have had in Timor-Leste are experiencing the fantastic diversity of scenery. In one day, you could be snorkelling the biodiverse waters of Atauro, hiking in hills to get to a white sand beach or chasing a waterfall view. We do not have dramatic changes in the seasons in New Zealand, so seeing the hills overlooking Dili and the mountains of Maubisse change colour during the transition between the dry and wet seasons is a great memory. I thank the Lafaek team for facilitating my welcome and offering their constant support. It has been a privilege to work with the team and experience the daily life in Timor-Leste. I have learnt so much by immersing myself in the culture and environment. My assignment has been an enriching experience requiring adaptation and flexibility”.