Working in Context. Embracing Diversity.

Our Philosophy

Bridging Peoples began in Timor-Leste based on a very simple idea: that for aid & development programs to make a positive impact in communities, they must work in context, appropriately recognising and valuing local realities and needs. We firmly believe that while creating a technically sound program is necessary, this only goes part-way to ensuring a program’s success. Alongside its technical elements, a program also needs good community engagement practices in order to build a sense of local ownership and achieve long-lasting results in the community. What’s more, we have the research to prove it!

We are context-driven. Rather than approaching aid & development as a one-size-fits-all package, we work hard to understand and build on community strengths, finding ways to work based on the unique cultural, social, historical and economic context. We can help you to do the same.

We are strategic. You don’t need to choose between meeting your program objectives, and working sensitively based on community realities and needs. We will work with you to strategically identify the most important entry-points in your project cycle to develop and apply community engagement principles, for maximum impact.

We are evidence-based. We use existing research and carry out research of our own to ensure we bring a good understanding of the local context. We also maintain strong relationships with universities from around the world, helping us to consistently apply best-practice principles of community engagement, community development, organisational development and international development into our work.

We work primarily with in-country academics, specialists, and consultants, who we bring together with international experts, responding to the particular needs of each project. The result? The best of both worlds: combining international best practice principles with sensitivity to local context, helping you to strategically leverage and work with existing community resources and strengths.

Our Team


Founder & Director

Deborah Cummins has a PhD on cross-cultural local governance from the University of New South Wales and has been working as a local governance and community engagement specialist since 2005. During this time, she has worked in Indigenous Australia, Timor-Leste, and Turkey/Syria, implementing and leading teams to provide research, monitoring & evaluation, policy analysis and program development support for a variety of organisations, including the Government of Timor-Leste, the World Bank, UNFPA, UN Women, Adam Smith International, Counterpart International, Oxfam International, International Women’s Development Agency, The Asia Foundation and a variety of national and local NGOs. She has published widely on issues of decentralisation, community engagement, local governance & justice delivery and gender issues. She speaks and writes English and Tetun fluently.


Timor-Leste Country Representative 

Mr. Alex Gusmão has a BA in International Community Development from Victoria University and has worked with communities in various capacities since 1996. He was Timor-Leste’s first Executive Secretary/Director-General for the Anti-Corruption Commission when it began in 2010, and before then was CEO for Timor Aid, responsible for implementing and managing the NGO’s emergency relief and development programs across the country. He is an accomplished researcher with a strong focus on participatory techniques, and has managed numerous fieldwork teams, working with universities from Australia and USA, and managing teams of researchers from UNTL, Timor Aid and the Anti-Corruption Commission. He speaks and writes English, Tetun and Bahasa Indonesia fluently.


Egypt Country Representative

Sarah Moharram has an MA in Economic Change in the Arab Region, and has worked with different research institutes and NGOs since 2011. She brings strong quantitative and qualitative expertise, and has implemented and led numerous large projects, including monitoring and evaluation of projects being implemented in Syria, research projects on local market viability, and needs assessments. Her work has been across a variety of sectors, including education, FSL, WASH and capacity building for several INGOs, including Save the Children, People in Need, and World Vision. Her particular passion is working with more vulnerable sectors of the community, including children in need. She speaks and writes Arabic and English fluently.

Stay in touch!

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Based in another country but interested in our work?

We are based in Timor-Leste but are always looking to expand our horizons! If you are based in another country and are working in a similar arena we would be delighted to hear from you. You can contact us HERE.


Join our online course, and learn practical strategies that you can implement immediately to improve your work in developing communities HERE.

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