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Report on recent trip to Timor-Leste

Esley, Esley’s son Chris and I recently returned to Timor for a 4-day trip from 15-19 April. It was Esley’s 8th trip and plans were to greet friends, review some of past projects and look at other opportunities to be of assistance. We were kindly chauffeured by Mario (a local Rotarian) while there and managed to achieve much in the 4 days.

The highlight was for Esley to see old friend Sister Elsa (photo 1) at the Nuns Retirement Campus in Dili and it was very evident to see the close bond they still had despite ageing years, years since seeing each other and distance apart.

We also visited the leprosy mission, there are currently still around 150 patients being largely managed in their homes in Timor. Beanies knitted by the Wesley Vale Church were delivered.

On the Tuesday evening we attended the local Rotary meeting in Dili (photo 2).

Then on Wednesday Chris, Mario and myself ventured to Maliana via Balibo. We were heartily greeted at the Canossonian school at Maliana (photo 3) and stayed with them for the night. The building we helped construct with local assistance is doing well (photo 4), there is still the potential for further building assistance to create a roof over a pathway between building to cover it from rain and with many Timorese buildings sadly the inner ceilings are falling in. We visited the Maliana hospital and were graciously shown around by the superintendent. By and large the hospital seemed to be well organised and functional.

On return to Dili we helped with the emptying of a container sent be Rotary from Melbourne for Timor and was amazing to see the amount of materials (from sewing material, solar panels, beds and chairs) which have been donated. On the final day we met up with many of the school students the club are sponsoring and visited some of stores selling steel, timber and hardware material.

The folk of Timor in general are very friendly and very gracious for assistance (photo 5). We listened carefully to several locals including Rotarians, locals, teachers, nuns and priests at various times. There is still concern over standards of education, governance and how the country can progress. My impression is that these are big challenges but where we can offer support it is very worthwhile to a local neighbouring child of Australia.

I really appreciated getting to meet Chris, Esley’s son during the time and felt we formed a close friendship.

PP - James Roberts-Thomson


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