David Patricio Belo has been the CVTL (Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste or Timor-Leste Red Cross) Youth President since 2017. His term is coming close to an end, but he is thankful for an interesting, challenging and inspiring two years, and for being able to represent the Youth of CVTL.

David was born in Baucau District and became involved as a CVTL volunteer in 2011 when he was 16. A CVTL volunteer had come to his school to talk about CVTL activities for the youth and he wanted to know more. He loved the experience as a volunteer, making new friends and learning many things. He particularly loves the Healthy Youth Programme as well as training in First Aid and Disaster Risk Reduction.

He talked about the problems youth population are facing in Timor-Leste. “They (the problem) are immense,” he said. Timor-Leste is the youngest nation in the Asia-Pacific Region with a population considered as one of the most youthful in the world. The problems youth are facing are many, but David said conflict is probably number one. Many youth get involved in different organisations and street gangs and fight each other. However, he believes these problems come from a much deeper place. Unemployment, boredom and seemingly lack of opportunities to move forward, these are the things that force the youth to take their frustrations out and end up fighting. He said other problems are drugs, alcohol, and early marriages/pregnancy.

“This is why the CVTL Youth Programmes and Activities are so important. We encourage the youth to participate, to become involved, and become active. We have school groups formed, and we have really relevant programs that deal with issues that our youth want to know about (e.g. drugs, conflict, HIV/Aids, Healthy Youth and many more). CVTL youth programmes give them opportunities to learn more – to help change and strengthen our vulnerable communities as well as make ourselves better people.”  Like myself, David said, “I had the opportunities to learn about First Aid and Disaster Risk Reduction. We all have the opportunities to be well trained in these things so we can help others. Not only do we get skills but it brings us meaning into our lives.”

Two years ago, David was encouraged by his friends at CVTL to run for the Youth President position. He saw it as an opportunity to use many of his skills to be a leader. He wanted to help mobilize youth and to collaborate closely with all the branches and all the youth across the country to participate, learn and share. “I wanted to share the voice of the youth, to be a voice for them, and to be part of the decision making process for youth at CVTL.” He really enjoyed his time in the position and said he had some incredible opportunities. He did the normal things like attending the National Board Meetings; becoming part of the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Youth Programmes and Activities; and representing CVTL Youth at the National Partnership Meetings. He also went to Turkey as the CVTL Youth Representative at the IFRC International Meeting; and attended the Timor-Leste National Youth Seminar where youth from all over the country, from all walks of life attend – “It was amazing”.

“I’ve loved this great opportunity to be the Youth President for CVTL – I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Sometimes I was nervous – especially when I had to speak at an international meeting (and especially when I had to do this in English), but I learnt a lot and have become more confident and a stronger person.”

During 9-10 May 2019, CVTL will be holding the  National Youth Assembly, where all the Youth leaders from each district will get together and discuss policies, direction, activities and elect a new Youth President and Vice President for two years.