Toowoomba volunteer changes lives in Timor-Leste

IN LIGHT of National Volunteers Week (May 9-15), former Toowoomba resident Mary Deakin reflected on her personal journey from a comfortable life in the Garden City to strengthening employment training in Timor-Leste.

Ms Deakin lived in Toowoomba for 16 years. She studied a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Southern Queensland and completed a postgraduate externally when she left to work in the Northern Territory for an indigenous health care organisation.

Living and working overseas was something she always pictured herself doing. But it wasn't until Ms Deakin was living in South Australia in 2010 that she studied a Masters in International Business, with the intention to teach in Cambodia.

CHANGING LIVES: Former Toowoomba woman Mary Deakin (second right) with three staff members from The National Centre of Employment and Professional Training (CNEFP) in Tibar, Timor-Leste.
CHANGING LIVES: Former Toowoomba woman Mary Deakin (second right) with three staff members from The National Centre of Employment and Professional Training (CNEFP) in Tibar, Timor-Leste.

"I had the opportunity to do a student exchange in China in 2013 and worked teaching English in France for a short period of time as a volunteer in 2012," she said.

"But I got my first volunteer placement in Cambodia through Scope Global working with the Disability Action Council in 2013," she said.

Ms Deakin is now on her second placement with an Australian Volunteer for International Development (AVID) assignment. She works at The National Centre of Employment and Professional Training (CNEFP) in Tibar, Timor-Leste.

"Being an international volunteer is both exciting and challenging, and enables me to experience the everyday day lives of another country," she said.


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