Final Timor Update

Many of the tasks have been completed by the Soldier On Volunteer program at the Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili, Timor Leste.

The kitchen has a renovated sink for washing dishes, a new drying rack and information on improved food handling and general hygiene. “This has been a godsend” said Fi Oakes, the Clinic Manager. “The ladies in the kitchen have appreciated the work and support given to them by the Soldier On group. They are really happy with the improvements we have been able to implement as a result of John’s (Bettley) advice. Thanks also to Andrew (Gaye) for fixing the plumbing in the sink. Thank you all”.

Andrew Gaye doing running repairs to the kitchen sink

The new car port and shelter is almost complete, thanks to the hard work of the Timorese construction crew. It was a pleasure to work with them. Their can do attitude and tenacity, with support from the Soldier On group saw the works done in record time. Dr Dan Murphy, the Bairo Clinic director and senior medical officer said “Soldier on and Australians in general have been very helpful and generous to us. This car port will allow some order with our parking and will allow the vehicle to be parked in the shade and stay a little cooler. This is important” he said. “It means our patients will not be placed in a vehicle that has been parked in the sun”.

The group also painted the inside of a clinic and did some repairs to internal and external rendering.

This program was made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of Citadel Group, Jamieson Foley and Geelong Rotary.

East Timor Volunteer Program – the project begins

The group reported for work at the Bairo Pire Clinic and was welcomed by the Clinic Manager Fi Oakes. After a tour and brief, our construction manager, Andrew Gaye from The Citadel Group met the local contractor Norman Bruce, an expat Australian to plan the way ahead. The task was to erect a car port for the clinic’s ambulances and some shelter over some of the walkways between wards.

Whilst this was happening, some of the group began cleaning down and painting the inside of a clinic building whilst Sarah Curby from The Citadel Group started repairs to the rendering. Fi Oakes found out John Bettley was a former Air Force chef and asked for his services to assist the clinic kitchen staff in developing good kitchen and food handling processes.

2 Building contractor Norman Bruce showing Andrew Gare the plan 2 Johny Belo from the Australian Defence Cooperation Program and Sarah Cubby

The next day, the group arrived bright and early to begin work. The contractor’s team was on the job ready to go. The Soldier On group again broke into sub groups, some painting, some assisting with the construction, and John back to working with the catering staff.

– This story was prepared by veteran and participant, Graeme H.

This program was made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of Citadel Group, Jamieson Foley and Geelong Rotary.

East Timor – the first update

The contingent of four former servicemen who served in East-Timor or Timor-Leste, with 3 staff members from Soldier On and 4 staff members from The Citadel Group arrived in Dili Timor-Leste on Thursday morning. After booking into the accommodation, the group was shown around Dili which has been, so far, an informative look at the country that the servicemen remember from very different times.

Of the four former servicemen, two, one Army, the other Air Force served during the early day of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET) in 1999, one served during the civil conflict in 2006 and the other in 2008.

Sarah Curby, Shallyn Horan, Julian Bahamon, Gayle Judd, Andrew Gare and Paul Porter, (Sarah Julian and Andrew are Citadel. Rest AFP

All had preconceived ideas about the place but were keen to see what it looked like now. The first change noticed was a large statue of Nicolau Lobato on the roundabout coming from the airport that was named in his honour. Driving down the main route into Dili, also named after him, it was a pleasure to see new construction and reconditioned buildings. The bridge over the river has been duplicated with two lanes now on each side. Gone largely are the burnt out buildings of the past, however the shanty like homes and shop fronts were very much in evidence.

In past deployments, the absence of local industry was noticeable, with the streets lined with out of work adults and young men sitting amongst piles of rubbish on the sides of the road, children and women begging, all with looks of hopelessness on their faces. No one smiled or responded to a friendly wave.

This time, the streets were packed with buses, trucks, motor vehicles of every size, motor bikes and of course, Microlets in their hundreds. Pedestrians, mostly well dressed and groomed, fill the footpaths. Industry can be seen everywhere from road side mechanical repairs to new car sales, street stalls selling a multitude of product to a major shopping centres, from local street-side food stalls to classy restaurants to high class hotels.

Today (Friday), the group was invited to a physical training session and volley ball match against the Timor-Leste Police (PNTL). The event was coordinated by the Australian Federal Police Development Program Timor-Leste (AFPDP-TL). About 100 PNTL members headed by Assistant Superintendent Euccledes Eleo, the Second in Command of Caicoli Police Station with new recruits, trainees and trained police welcoming the group enthusiastically. Gayle Judd, Shallyn Horan and Paul Porter from AFPDP-TL joined the Soldier On group to team up against the PNTL.

Assistant Superintendent ELeo explained the rules and after some warm up exercise lead the combine group out of the compound on to the road and proceeded to jog around the block. That culminated in pairs sprinting the last 100 metres. The Soldier On and AFP group acquitted itself admirably with only one casualty who fell over and took some skin off.

Needless to say, PNTL were the volley ball victors.

Veteran Brian Turnbull Veteran Graeme Henley getting flogged at volley ball

From there, the group, including the AFPDP-TL visited the Dominican Orphanage and donated food, health and educational items to assist. Madre Mila and the girls at the orphanage were most grateful.

After that, the group lunched at a restaurant staffed entirely by rehabilitated victims of violence. This initiative is part of the AFPDP-TL’s Vulnerable Persons Unit. It was good to see first-hand an effective welfare program in what had once been a country devastated by violence and civil unrest.

The last visit was to the Saint Clara orphanage on the outskirts of Dili. Once again, the group provided food, health and educational items to the orphanage. The girls and Madre Mahulu thanked the group with a lovely song.

– This story was prepared by veteran and participant, Graeme H.

This program was made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of Citadel Group, Jamieson Foley and Geelong Rotary.