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.

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