A little late…..the adventures of Team 1

(Pic: JM training AT)

Team 2 has returned home safe, sound (and exhausted) last weekend. They had a great trip! We can’t wait to hear all about it!

Meanwhile, here’s a quick rundown on what Team 1 got up to in May……

Team 1 consisted of Australian volunteers, Dr John Moran, Dr John Whyte, Bella Miller and Rebecca Bushell. They were joined on the ground by our Timorese crew, Ana de Jesus Barreto Tilman (AT), Ana Paula Dos Santos Tavares Salgado (AP), Nico Tolentino Faria Pires (Nico) and Diamantino Correia Morais (Tino).

As always for the first team the year, Team 1 had to carry in loads of consumables, and endure interminable discussions with airline staff about excess baggage. They arrived in TL after an otherwise smooth trip to find that the brakes had seized on our Troopie, which necessitated that we borrow a vehicle from the Rotary Liaison office in Dili (thank you for coming to our rescue, yet again!!!!).

The team spent the first 4 days working in the Railaco parish clinic and in Railaco Leten.  The Railaco clinic is run by Father Bong and his team at the Jesuit Mission, who always takes very good care of our teams. As usual there were issues with equipment, but after a little bush mechanics, the team rolled on as usual. Rough travelling conditions, the tropical climate, and the outreach nature of our clinics, means that equipment breakage and breakdown is a fact of life. Ingenuity is a prerequisite for all our team members!

Our primary purpose in TL is the mentoring of Timorese dental clinicians. Hence, although the Team was busy providing treatment to patients throughout their entire trip, there was a great deal of training happening at the same time. This is the reason that Tino joined our team in Railaco. Tino is a dental therapist who works in nearby Gleno Hospital, and he has been mentored by the TLDP for many years. Tino never misses an opportunity to increase his skills and clinical knowledge!

Bella reviewed the all-important infection control and sterilisation procedures with the team, John Whyte trained with Tino and AT on improving extraction techniques, and John Moran worked with Nico on aesthetic fillings and root canal therapy. In return, AT and AP provided some much-needed Tetum language training for the team. (Pic: Nico and JM)

The newly fixed Troopie was delivered to the team on the second-last day in Railaco and after a day in Railaco Leten, the team moved onto Kasait.


The team spent the next 5 days in the Centro De Saude Daniel Ornelas , the church-run health clinic in Kasait. Sr Eliza and her helper, Manuel, ensured that this clinic ran like clockwork. Equipment issues continued to plague the team, with autoclave malfunctions, failure of the air syringe on one of the dental units, leaking pipes and blocked drains in the clinic, as well as a flood in the kitchen. They were further hindered by a local celebration for St. Francis, whose statue was carried down from a remote village, bringing Kasait  to a standstill. There was, nonetheless, a steady stream of patients and any lull was quickly taken up by more training. 

The team had a great time – the Australian volunteers are always impressed by the competence and enthusiasm of the Timorese members of the team, as well as the willingness of many other Timorese to help. In turn, the Timorese contingent enjoy the work, value the opportunity to learn, and are alternately mystified and amused by Australian foibles.

(Pic: The Team in Kasait with Sr Eliza and Manuel)

In total the team carried out 268 examinations, placed 246 fillings, extracted 235 teeth, and did 188 preventive treatments. WELL DONE TEAM 1!

Our heartfelt thanks to the unstinting support we receive from Henry Schein Halas and SDI Ltd – without their donations of essential consumables, we would not be able to do our work over in TL.


Team 2 heads out this weekend


Although we have yet to hear from Team 1 (they worked themselves to the bone!), the TLDP rolls on. Team 2 is due to head out this Friday. This team is comprised of team leader, Dr David Digges, returnees, Dr Henry Gilkes, Liz Eberl and Dr Geoff Knight, and newbie, Dr William Hariman. They will be working mostly in the Bobonaro and a Maliana areas. Have fun and good luck, Team!


Team 1 is now safely home. They had a very busy and productive trip AND, if you managed to follow them on Instagram or Facebook (the TLDP is now on both!) you will have also noticed that they had a great time too!! Welcome home Team!

timorese farm


Our first team arrives in TL this Sunday. Dr John Moran, Dr John Whyte, Bella Miller and Rebecca Bushell are headed for a stint in the communities of Railaco and Kasait. As usual, the team will also include the TLDP’s full-time dental therapists, Nico Pires and Ana Tilman, as well as dental assistant and interpreter,  Ana Paula Salgado. Tino Correia, a dental therapist who we have mentored for many years, and who works in Gleno Hospital clinic, also intends to join the team for more training. A big busy team!! Have fun and good luck!

Inda at Eaglehawk Rotary

Supporting sustainability – Dr Inda in Oz

There’s an old proverb that says, “.” How true that statement is!  It is one of the foundations upon which all aid programs (and the TLDP) are based, and it’s all about sustainability and self-sufficiency. The TLDP’s overarching aim is to work with the Timorese people to improve their own systems so that one day, they will no longer need us. To achieve this  requires investment in the skills of local people.

Hence, on May 1, with the help of the Australian Dental Association, the Bendigo Maubisse Friendship Committee, Eaglehawk Rotary Club and La Trobe University, the Timor-Leste Dental Program brought Dr Inda Zulmira Dias over to Australia for some much needed continuing professional development (CPD).

Dr Inda is one of the Timorese Dental clinicians whom the TLDP mentors. She is a Phillipines-trained dentist who  works in Maubisse Hospital, supported by two dental therapists and 2 dental nurses. She has had no further formal CPD since she graduated in 2015 (Australian dentists need 60 hours over 3 years to retain their dental registration), so this was badly needed, especially in a country with only 5 functioning dentists!

Accompanied by Dr Blanche Tsetong over 8 days, Dr Inda attended the ADA Congress – the biggest dental conference in Australia – and spent 3 days at La Trobe University in Bendigo attending practical sessions and lectures, as well as discussing possible ways in which La Trobe could support her team in the future. There were also meetings with Eaglehawk Rotary to discuss the improvement of the layout of Maubisse’s dental surgery. The schedule was hectic, but the irrepressible, enthusiastic Inda took it all in her stride!

The TLDP extends our deepest thanks to the many organisations that helped make this happen!!!




New Wheels for Nico

Big things happening this year!! The TLDP has purchased our first motorbike, a Yamaha XTZ. This will be for Nico to use while he works for us. Nico was previously using his scooter to get to work and around the Liquiça district. Scooters are more commonly used in TL because they are less expensive to buy; however they are not very hardy and although they work well on the streets of Dili, they soon come to grief on the rough roads outside the capital. We are very happy that Nico will be on a more reliable vehicle, and Nico is super-happy because he has a new toy!

Welcome to the team Ana Tilman!

We have had an auspicious start to 2019. Just this week, we have hired a new staff member, Miss Ana de Jesus Barreto Tilman. Ana is a qualified Timorese dental therapist, a University of Dili (UNDIL) graduate. She will be working in the Maubara clinic and in our School dental program with Nico, our full-time dental therapist. She will be assisting with treatment, infection control, sterilisation and record-keeping – tasks that are very hard to do well when working by oneself. Ana Tilman also works for the Kose Nehan toothbrushing program in Aileu, so we are very lucky to have her onboard in her downtime. A warm welcome to the TLDP team, Ana!