Tag Archives: David Digges

All work and no play….

Enroute to Maliana - DD, LE, AF
Enroute to Maliana – DD, LE, AF

If it is true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the six members of Team 4 must be exceedingly fortified after their stint in TL. Headed by frequent flyer, Dr David Digges, the team consisted of first-timer, Dr Ashley Freeman, our translator, Mr Bonifacio Cardoso Martins (Bony), and tag-teamers, Mrs Liz Eberl, Ms Aisling Digges (both on their 2nd trip) and Dr Geoff Knight (on his 4th trip).

flagThe team spent the first week in Maliana, which is a 5 hour scenic drive west from our base in Maubara. On their way, they stopped at the historic village of Balibo, where they had lunch at the restored Balibo Fort and visited the newly opened dental clinic, managed by the Balibo House Trust. They are also looking for volunteer dentists and the accommodation is 4-star!

Bony's family
Bony’s family

Bony and Tino  had organised the team’s accommodation and program in Maliana well in advance. The team were met by the welcome party of Bony’s family, who live in Maliana, and stayed in a lovely guesthouse surrounded by mountains, with sweeping views over rice paddies. They spent the first 2.5 days working at the hospital, where they were able to spend some time upskilling Jose, the resident dental therapist. Jose used to work with Australian-trained dentist Dr Amelia Barreto, but like many professionals, she quite rapidly shed her clinical position, moving to Dili to work in the Health Ministry.

liz-post-op

bony-and-the-masses-2
Bony and the masses

The work became a battle when the team moved to the largest conjoined primary and secondary school in Maliana – 1500 children.  This is Bony’s alma mater and three of his siblings still attend school there. Team 4 was treated to their first full Bony experience – given a microphone, Bony launched into his usual routine – an encouraging speech, oral hygiene demonstration and the ‘Brushing Song’. No one can withstand his natural charm and enthusiasm!

dd-and-af-in-malianaNotwithstanding the fun atmosphere, the team was in for a gruelling 2.5 days. They treated so many children that the days passed in a blur! Surprisingly, all the equipment held up under the stress, with only one thing marring the otherwise seamless week – Someone locked the keys in the car. This necessitated the convening of a village think-tank and a search through the underbelly of Maliana for one with the necessary skills to retrieve the keys.

The middle weekend is important to the teams. It is the changeover weekend – of people, equipment and locations. It gives us at least a day to recharge ourselves, to effect any urgent maintenance and repairs, and restock our depleted supplies for the following week. Team 4’s weekend was filled with visits to the Maubara orphanage, to the ‘head office’ convent at Fatuhada, showers and internet in Dili (aaaahhhh!!), and lunch with our mate, Mimi Chungue (who found Bony for us – thank you Mimi!). They farewelled Liz and picked up Aisling and Geoff, then headed into Week 2 on the  flawless  3 year old road to Railaco.

Railaco clinic
Railaco clinic

The teams who have worked with Geoff Knight have always commented on how much they learn from him, especially with regards to using Silver Fluoride/Potassium Iodide to save teeth from the bucket. With continuing donations from SDI, which markets AgF/KI as Riva Star, our teams have enthusiastically added this product, and the treatment protocol developed by Geoff, to our dental ‘toolkit’, both in TL and at home. We are deeply grateful to both Geoff and SDI for their support.

Hence, while the Team sorely missed the presence of Tino, whose baby was hospitalised at the time, they continued to benefit from Geoff’s expertise – Geoff even treated David’s mortally wounded finger with AgF – preventing amputation or worse!

A clinic with a view
A clinic with a view

The team shifted a lot this week. The first 3 days they were hosted by the indefatigable Father Bong, who organised the team to work on someone’s balcony in  Nasutu the first morning,  then spend that afternoon and the following day in Railaco Clinic. The third day the team worked on the back deck of the church in Railaco Leten, which is reached by a very steep, very windy road with stunning views to be enjoyed by everyone except the white-knuckled driver.

cheeky-boysThe last 2 days the team was sent back down the hill to Kasait, which is near the shipyards on the way to Maubara. The Jesuits have been busy building a clinic and a school there. The team was coddled by Sr Eliza, who is also a registered nurse, and were wined and dined by the Jesuits up above, in Montserrat, a monastery that, like the original, has stunning views over the coast. The team treated both community members and school children, and was ably  assisted by a young Jesuit intern, Brother Francisco from Portugal. Again, their seemed to be no problems with equipment this week. Yet again, only one thing marred the seamless nature of the operation – Someone (and I think it was the same ‘someone’) was a tad lackadaisical in the packing of T2, which resulted in the totally preventable breaking of the Bundy bottles and an obscene wastage of good rum!

The team worked their fingers to the bone. Their massive effort saw 973 examined, 427 extractions, 353 teeth filled, 18 cleans and 227 preventive treatments. Well done Team 4! Luckily, they seemed to have also had a fabulous time, hence, they are in no danger of becoming dull anytime soon.

At Black Rock
The last hurrah at Black Rock

Thank you again to SDI and also to Henry Schein Halas, who also give us huge amounts of materials throughout the year – we would quickly grind to a halt without you. Thank you to all our supporters and to Sr Filomena and Father Bong for organising us while in TL. Our last thank you goes to Bony – whose enthusiasm, good humour and sheer hard work has helped each and every team do their job more effectively this year.

 

 

Last Team for 2016

Yet again it is Dr David Digges’s team closing our volunteering year for us! The team leaves this Saturday 24 September and is another tag-team – the first week it consists of David, second-timer, Liz Erberl (a registered nurse and David’s sister), and newcomer, Dr Ashley Freeman, who hails from Darwin; the second weeks farewells Liz, and welcomes Aisling Digges and Dr Geoff Knight to the fray. The Plan (much-revised) is for the team to head to Maliana the first week (the Sisters in Bobonaro are renovating, so no Bobonaro this year) and then to Railaco the second week. Bony and Tino have spent a lot of time organising the accommodation and the program in Maliana, and it’s always fun in Railaco, thanks to the ebuliient Father Bong, so the team should have a rip-roaring time! As the last team for the year, Team 4 has the responsibility of doing the end-of-year maintenance, making sure that the equipment will be ship-shape for the next year. Good luck Team 4!

Welcome Home Team 5!

Team 5, headed by Dr David Digges, arrived home on the weekend, safe and sound. We await their report with much anticipation, however, it may be awhile – we received an unusual call from our lovely Sr Filomena on the day that the team left. The team worked very hard, she reported, and were very tired. What dedication! Well done team and welcome home!!

Last team to TL

Hot on the heels of Cowboy and Snake, TLDP’s last team for 2015 leaves Sydney today. After overnighting in Darwin, they will hit TL’s shores on Saturday. The team is a conglomerate of first time volunteers and seasoned TLDP-ers. Carolyn and David Digges will be joined by yet another member of the intrepid Digges family, David’s sister, Elizabeth, as well as newcomer dentist, Charmaine White. Geoff Knight will also be adding his considerable experience to this team in the second week when this team heads out to Bobonaro. Have fun team!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE TLDP

As 2014 draws to a close, one naturally reflects upon the year which has passed so rapidly. It has been an exceedingly busy and exciting year for all of us in the Timor Leste Dental Program. We have welcomed a whole bunch of new volunteers and said our sad goodbyes to those who have called it a day. It has been a year of outrageously intense fundraising and thanks to all our supporters, we managed to not only achieve our goal of buying a new Troopie – T2 – but we have been able to raise money that will carry us forward for the next few years. Your generosity and support has been overwhelming and we are grateful not only for your financial support, but also for  your ideas and advice.

Sr teachingAs this goes to press, we are preparing to transport a second hand dental chair  (donated by Dr David Sheen) to our new partners, the Jesuit Mission in Railaco. This chair will  be useful when our teams are in Railaco and we are hoping it will also be useful for Father Bong, a medical GP, for procedural work. With the chair goes a second portable suction unit, donated by Dr Gordon Howe of Manly, and a portable dental unit as well. We are also hoping to sneak in 119 boxes of gloves with the ‘package’ so the teams don’t have to lug around so much luggage next year. Fingers crossed! The ‘package’ will be sent to Melbourne by courier, to be placed on the next shipping container to Dili.

church bellWe have had an unprecedented number of volunteers putting up their hand for 2015, and I am happy to report that our increased profile has allowed us to send 5 teams in 2015 – we may even have a 6th! Our volunteer year kicks off in late April with Team 1 being lead by David Sheen, who will be accompanied by the super enthusiastic Peter Shakes and equipment guru Keith Mentiplay. Team 2, lead by John Moran and his talented daughter, Sam, will head out in early June.  Newcomers, Dr Mary Tiutuinnik and Beth Bowen  will join Team 3 in late July, with  Blanche Tsetong and jack-of-all-trades Wayne Pearson. Team 4, lead by super chilled David Digges, with dental legend, Geoff Knight, will leave late August. Team 5, consisting of Andy Moran (Snake), Gordon Saggers (Cowboy) and Alan Christie (Agatha) will head to TL in mid- September and will be the first of our teams to work in Railaco only. For advice on those nicknames – I am reliably told it is secret Railaco business – apply to Father Bong.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, our long-suffering families, our friends and supporters for everything you have given to the program this year. We wish you all a safe, very happy Christmas and a super new year! See you all in 2015!

MONEY MATTERS

On behalf of all us who volunteer for the Timor Leste Dental Program I would like to offer a sincere thanks to the Chatswood Rotary Club for throwing us that marvellous bash earlier this year. Drs David Digges, David Sheen and Blanche Tsetong were invited to one of the club’s meetings at the start of this month. After giving a presentation to the attendees, they were handed a cheque for $53 000 – a significant amount of money that will help keep us going for the next few years. This is in addition to the generous donations we have received, and are continuing to receive, from our fabulous supporters.

So what are we planning on doing with the dough? We at TLDP central are planning on buying a new compressor, a new portable dental cart, paying off our loan for Troopie 2 and generally getting on with the job at hand. Thank you for your support! We could not do it without you!

A few fun facts about the program.

We sent 7 dental teams from Feb 2013 – Sept 2014

We treated 2895 Timorese people.

We extracted 2071 teeth, placed 1189 fillings and performed 1490 preventive treatments.

A conservative estimate of the cost of this treatment is $848 260.

We are in the midst of planning 2015, which is shaping up to be another exciting year! We have a whole new line-up of eager volunteers, thanks to our raised profile, and are planning additional trips!! Keep you posted!

(Picture from left: Club President, Dr Tony Basten, Dr Peter Kindred, Dr Dick Abbott, Dr David Sheen, Dr Blanche Tsetong, Mrs Coleen O’Neill, Mr Michael McQuillon, Dr David Digges)

 chatswood

ROTARY FUNCTION SUCCESS

Those of us who attended last night’s function are still stunned by the sheer grandeur of the event. The huge attendance, the generous support from donors, and the fabulous MC, all contributed to making last night’s event a huge success. A MASSIVE THANK YOU to Chatswood Rotary Club, for putting in the hard yards for this program. Thank you also to David Sheen and David Digges for their hard work in putting together their tightly woven speeches, and to Sam Moran for a video that cemented into the minds of the viewers an idea of what it is we do over in Timor Leste. We are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister, The Hon Tony Abbott for sparing us some time out of his busy schedule to join us last night and also to the Hon Joe Hockey MP, and other dignitaries, for their support and goodwill. A heartfelt thank you to the Consul General of Timor Leste, Armandina Gusmão Santos and her admin officer, Ligia Ximenes for their grace and friendship. They were wonderful company last night.

chatswood

It is too early for the final figures to be finalised, but rest assured, dear friends and supporters, the fabulous, super efficient folks from Chatwood Rotary have thrown us an event that has raised us more funds than we originally anticipated! A BIG thank you to all of you who attended last night, who spent up big on those auctions and raffles, and to those of you who continue to support us from afar.

(Picture from Left: Dr David Sheen, Dr Blanche Tsetong, Timor Leste Consul General, Sra. Armandina Gusmao Santos, Prime Minister The Honourable Tony Abbott,  & Dr David Digges)