Leslie Admiring the view

Notes from the Edge – Dr Leslie Leong

You know that feeling when you flop down onto a chair, tired and exhausted from a hard day’s work, yet feel strangely rejuvenated and fresh? Timor gives me that feeling in the bucketloads. You might think that’s from piling through patient after patient. Through lifting box after box from the Landcruiser to the classroom cum clinic, setting up and doing it all in reverse by the end of the day. And some days you’d be right. Other days, I get that feeling from chasing kids around the school with a broomstick and squeezy bottle of water.

I get such a sense of family and community being around these amazing individuals. I first met Nico (the dental therapist) while filtering through the dental supplies to bring to Maubisse. Complete with the cheeky smile, tooth gem on his lateral incisor and tough guy exterior, Nico is the best problem solver. Repairs to the suction unit with composite resin comes second nature, thus earning the title Nico ‘sempre diak’ (translate: Nico always good). Learning Tetum, there is a definite ‘go-to’ Ana to ask for advice. Ana ‘diak’ (Ana Paula) will give you sound translations that had me somewhat conversing with my patients. Ana ‘la-diak’ (Ana Tilman) might have you buying lollies when all I wanted was a bottle of water.

You have to be ready to get uber basic when it comes to lifestyle habits. Fortunately, I love putting my technology away and find a certain joy in living and eating simple. One trip to the Maubisse market yielded the tiniest, reddest strawberries and plump avocadoes. As not to offend the sisters, who were accommodating and feeding us, I gifted both of these items to them. I found that evening they already had mountains of strawberries ready for us to stuff our faces.

Those avocadoes though, I never saw those again. Count me moderately devastated. Safe to say then, I’m coming back for those avocados.

(The indefatigable Leslie will be joining another team this year – he really wants those avos! – Ed)

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