This post is also available in: Tetun
Dear future conservationists in Timor-Leste and around the world,
My name is Dedy Martins, and this is the story of my journey working with Blue Ventures in Timor-Leste.
In 2018, I saw an advert for an administration position at Blue Ventures in Timor-Leste and I knew that it was the job for me, so I was really excited when my application was accepted! I wanted to work for Blue Ventures because, like many young people from Timor-Leste, I hadn’t been able to continue my education at University and I knew that I would be able to learn a lot in an organisation like this. The education system here in Timor-Leste poses many obstacles for young people trying to build a future for themselves. For example, the school curriculum doesn’t always prepare students for the globalised world that we live in and many teachers do not teach in their specialist area and this can impact the students. Thankfully, things are starting to change and the education system is already better than when I was at school.
My time as an Admin Assistant taught me that it doesn’t matter what job you do, as long as you are passionate and have a good attitude.A few weeks after applying, I started my new role as an Administration and Operational Assistant in the Blue Ventures office in Dili. I took care of visa applications, filing letters, bookkeeping, and other administrative tasks. Some people might think that this is a job that anyone could do, but I remained grateful, dedicated and kept up a strong work ethic, even though I was only a small part of the team. My time as the Admin Assistant taught me that it doesn’t matter what job you do, as long as you are passionate and have a good attitude.
During my role, I was also able to take part in Blue Ventures’ conservation work with community-based fisheries monitoring groups and participate in community meetings around marine management in Atauro, Behau and Manatuto. I began with smaller tasks like organising transport, providing phone credit for the fisheries monitoring groups and translating Tetun for my English-speaking colleagues. Through this new responsibility, I worked more closely with the conservation team and began to dedicate more of my time to working in conservation. Since then I have learnt a lot about marine conservation and been able to share this with the communities we work with. Eventually, I was able to take on a new role as the Conservation Officer.
When I began working with Blue Ventures I could see that the team was truly committed to working with coastal communities – I wanted to be a part of this but there were some challenges that made me worry about my new role. My English skills were not very good and sometimes it was difficult to communicate. I also didn’t feel confident speaking in front of large groups (such as community meetings) because I’d never had to do it before.
When I looked at the progress they’d made, I started to believe in myself. I thought, ‘if they can do it, why can’t I?’However, I felt supported and drew inspiration from the rest of the team who approach their work with commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. I was particularly encouraged by my fellow Timorese colleagues, Mima and Amos, who worked extremely hard throughout their long training process at Blue Ventures. When they joined the team in 2016, they were new to SCUBA diving and conservation but now, they teach those skills to others – and I think it takes a special kind of person to do that. When I looked at the progress they’d made, I started to believe in myself. I thought, ‘if they can do it, why can’t I?’.
I have also been motivated by working with my colleague, Jenny, Conservation Coordinator at Blue Ventures Timor-Leste. Even though she is young and often works behind the scenes, she has taught me a lot about how to always put communities first. She has spent lots of time teaching and supporting me, and has given me lots of opportunities to develop and grow, including helping me with my English and always encouraging me to take on new tasks. Jenny was one of the people who showed me that, even if you work behind the scenes, you can still have big dreams to bring about positive change.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my team of kind, hardworking people who dedicate themselves to community conservation. Aside from their professional support, we have also developed great friendships and through this journey, I have grown to love working with Blue Ventures. I feel lucky to have had so many professional opportunities, as well as the chance to meet lots of my international colleagues who have visited Timor-Leste to share their knowledge and experience. Their visits encouraged me and gave me a vision of a good future for the communities we work with.
I believe that, in my own small way, I can contribute to my country, or even the whole world, in looking towards a better future for the marine environment.The thing I like best about my job is working directly with communities to conserve their marine resources. I believe that, in my own small way, I can contribute to my country, or even the whole world, in looking towards a better future for the marine environment. Despite not having an educational background in marine conservation, together with my friends at Blue Ventures, I keep learning more and more everyday and feel confident that I am contributing towards our vision of a better future for coastal communities. Recently, I’ve been learning how to snorkel and SCUBA dive, studying fisheries management, and developing my leadership and communication skills.
I want to say thank you to my fellow members of the Blue Ventures Timor-Leste team and all my friends who have shared their knowledge, creativity and experiences with me. Although my input sometimes seems small, by persevering I’ve been able to see meaningful results that benefit many people in Timor-Leste and around the world.
Having gone through this journey, I want to use this opportunity to share my story and encourage young people in Timor-Leste to follow their dreams. As I was always told growing up, “Fiar de’it katak! Loron ida, ita nia servisu no esforsu tomak sei selu-kotuk”, which means “Have faith that one day, your work and effort will pay off!”
Thank you, and good luck!
Blue Ventures would like to thank our supporters and funders including the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding.