Cowboy and Snake Ride Again

andy and gordon in prisonTeam 4 returned home last Saturday following an intensely busy 10 days in and around Railaco. It has been a while since Drs Andy Moran (Snake) and Gordon Saggers (Cowboy) have been to TL, so they really noticed the improvements in infrastructure, particularly in the quality of the main roads and the availability of electricity; as well as improvements in public health, especially the reduction in betel-nut usage which has been attributed to a public health campaign.

Andy and Gordon were charged with taking over the pressure cooker steriliser that the TLDP has just purchased from India. The fabulous Rotary Coordinator, Daryl Mills, provided us with a spare gas bottle and the boys bought a gas cooker from a supermarket in Dili and now the new clinic in Railaco has a steriliser that can sterilise a load of dirty instruments in 15 minutes!

The pair had a smallish set of dramas unique to working in this beautiful place – on finding that they had the wrong set of handpieces for the dental cart, they had to endure the 4 hour return trip from Railaco to Maubara to make an exchange. They wrestled with a recalcitrant generator, stemmed the flood from a leaky scaler and negotiated the goat tracks, otherwise known as secondary and tertiary roads with audaciousness and resolve. The roads to Tarasu and Leorema are particularly BAD.

andy, gordon and pt

Team 4 was kept extremely busy by the redoubtable Father Bong, treating patients in Railaco, Nasuta, Leorema, Railaco Leten, Gleno Jail, Daicerlaco, Tocoluli, Cocoa and Tarasu. Super-organised Father Bong had patients lined up and ready to go so the boys had very little downtime. He also organised two excellent support staff; a driver and interpreter, Victor, a Timorese who been a soldier in the Portugese army and had worked in Sydney as a cleaner in St Vincent’s Hospital and as a garbage truck driver in Liverpool; and Natalia, an ex-nun who was their nurse and interpreter.

In total, the team saw 335 patients; did 20 cleans, filled 353 teeth and extracted 425 teeth. As Andy puts it, “Not bad for a couple of old blokes”.

Many thanks to Henry Schein Halas who again stepped up to the plate and donated some much needed local anaesthetic to us, to Father Bong and Daryl, whose hospitality and efficiency we could not do without, and to Cowboy and Snake, for their sheer hard work. Fantastic job!

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