As our many friends and supporters know, the TLDP has been supporting a young Timorese lady, Ana Paula Dos Santos Tavares Salgado, in her dental studies in Fiji National University for the last 2 years. (Above Pic: Ana Paula and her good mates, Patisepta and Mena.
Ana Paula hit the shores of Fiji in February 2019 – right at the beginning of the pandemic – and has been stuck there ever since. University study is hard enough, but studying in another country, away from family and friends, in a foreign language is even harder. The difficulty is heightened even further with Covid factors; there have been periods of extreme isolation, and much helplessness and distress due to separation from sick and dying family members.
It has been a very hard 2 years for Ana Paula.
Nonetheless, Ana Paula is determined and resilient, and she has had staunch support from Australia; Dr David Sheen and John Tweedie have had almost-weekly WhatsApp meetings with Ana Paula throughout her time in Fiji, and have taken on the responsibility of her welfare in Fiji, while Dr Geoff Knight and Dr Stephanie Shields have provided academic aid. Ana Paula is much-loved by all our team members and many of us keep in touch with her.
Fiji finally opened its doors last week, and David Sheen flew over to touch base with Ana Paula. She has garnered some amazing supporters in-country, and David was able to spend some time with her friends and tutors, as well as check out the dental program at Fiji National University.
David found that Ana Paula has now settled into student life and regards the rest of the course with positivity. She has supportive friends and is well liked by the university staff and people she meets. Ana Paula is now studying second year Bachelor of Oral Health subjects, and with a credit average, she will be able to transition into the Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
And with a bit of luck, she will be able to head home to Timor-Leste at the end of this year. Stay tuned!