In pictures: Timor-Leste celebrates 10 years of independence
Children at a Plan-supported pre-school in Timor-Leste enjoying fun activities as the country celebrates 10 years of formal independence.
Today Dili, the capital of Southeast Asia's newest and poorest nation, has never been so busy as cars fill its streets and new buildings go up.
But beneath the surface, the nation is still recovering from a 24-year occupation by Indonesia, which destroyed most of the country's infrastructure. Since then, it's been a rocky road to recovery.
Aurelia Pereira, 70, has been living near Tasi Tolu since 1979. "When I moved here, it was all just forests," she says. "Then people came and built shops. But in 2006, they were all burnt down."
"But people are not fighting anymore. Even the presidential elections ran smoothly," she says, holding up her fingers, which are still stained with the black ink they use to stop people voting twice.
Plan has been working in Timor-Leste since 2001 and today runs projects in Aileu and Lautem districts - covering education, health, youth empowerment, water and sanitation and child protection.
While the hustle and bustle of economic activity continues to increase in Dili, in the districts subsistence farming is still the main means by which people feed and care for their families.
Isolated by poor road infrastructure and mountainous geography, families in remote villages have limited access to vital services, markets or employment.
In Soikili village, up in the hills of Lautem, Plan has helped mothers set up a sewing group so that they can earn an income while their children get an education.
A boy watches while his mother works in the sewing room. The women have set up a small business in the village repairing clothes for their neighbours.
Earning an income boosts the confidence of women like Amalia. "Now we don't just stay in the kitchen, cooking and looking after the children," she says.
Amalia has a daughter in a Plan-supported pre-school, where she is learning maths and reading through games and dance. "This will make it easier for her to enter primary school," says Amalia.
Plan supports pre-schools in 32 communities across the country and 40 youth groups, but with 1.2 million people here - most poor and traumatised by the past – there's still a lot of work to do.
Schools and jobs will help, but there will need to be more opportunities created to meet the expectations of the country's resilient population. Photos by Rob Few.
All photos by Plan/ Rob Few
Watch this slideshow to see how children and communities in Timor-Leste are looking to the future as Southeast Asia's newest and poorest nation celebrates 10 years of independence.
The country is still recovering from a 24-year occupation by Indonesia, which destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure. Since then it’s been a rocky road to recovery with internal strife and violence along the way.
Plan has been working in Timor-Leste since 2001 and initially focused on reconstructing and rehabilitating damaged schools, as well as conducting teacher training.
During the 2006 crisis, Plan played a vital role in the emergency response and managed 12 of 45 camps that opened in the capital, Dili, to shelter internally displaced people.
Today Plan works in Aileu and Lautem districts and runs programmes covering education, health, youth empowerment, water and sanitation, early childhood care and development, and child protection.
Find out more about Plan’s work in Timor-Leste