Tag Archives: East Timor

The Power of Many

Team 2 has returned home safe and sound. In the past couple of years, our teams seem to have become quite large as a general rule, as our Australian volunteers are matched in numbers by Timorese employees. This team consisted of Australian volunteers, Dr David Digges (Team Leader), Dr Henry Gilkes, Ms Liz Eberl, and the tag teamers – Dr Geoff Knight and newcomer, Dr William Hariman. The Timorese contingent consisted of Ana de Jesus Barreto Tilman (AT), Ana Paula Dos Santos Tavares Salgado (AT), Nicolau Tolentino Faria Pires (Nico), Isabel Noronha Pereira De Lima Maia (Isa), Bonifacio Cardoso Martins (Bony), and Diamantino Correia Morais (Tino). Hence, at any given moment, this team had 3 dentists, 2 or 3 dental therapists, a dental assistant/steri nurse and 2 translators/dental assistants/admin officers. A massive team!

DD, HG, Isa, AP, AT, LE, Nico, GK

The team spent the first few days hosted by the Sisters in Bobonaro. The girls got to stay with the Sisters themselves, but the boys were housed in the Sisters’Tuberculosis clinic  – we suspect that they will be looking for some new digs next year! The team spent the first 2 days operating in the meeting room of Gumer Primary School, with the nearby High School kids walking over. Gumer is an isolated valley between Bobonaro and Maliana and  there are 800 children in these 2 schools, many of whom have very poor oral health. The team soon realised that on Day 1, but were able to broaden their scope on Day 2. 

The fabulous GK in action with the equally fabulous Isa

For the remainder of the week, the team shifted accommodation to Maliana –  this is the Big Smoke in this area, and the team gets to enjoy a little luxury. Isa’s Mom runs Restaurant Maliana, so the team is well-fed when they live here. Day 3 and 4 saw the team working out of a very impoverished village called Memo, 30 minutes west of Maliana and within spitting distance of the Indonesian border. They found it a little unerving to be able to see an Indonesian Military checkpoint from the school where they set up. The villagers here had never seen a dentist.

Tino and the omnipresent Ana Tilman!

Day 5 was changeover day – the team started working out of Maliana Hospital. Bony and Tino arrived together on what would have been a very long, dusty and bumpy tandem ride from Dili. Bony still managed to look immaculate coming off that bike – some people just have that knack! Geoff headed back to Dili – any team lucky enough to have Geoff with them benefits from his wealth of knowledge, especially with Silver Fluoride, which we use extensively in our work over in TL. William had been picked up from the airport by one of Isa’s friends and was put straight on the tools when he arrived in Maliana – no problem for William!

The team spent the next 2 days treating the community as well as students from the High School. This team is impressive with its logistics. They split into two teams, with screening and transportation of the students carried out by Bony, Willian, Tino and Liz, and treatment carried out in the hospital by Nico, Henry and David. Translation, sterilisation and patient marshalling were efficiently handled by AP, Isa and AT. After working late, the team had sunset drinks on the rooftop terrace – a last hurrah with Isa, who is now employed by Maluk Timor as the Oral Health Coordinator for all the dental charities that come to TL – we wish her well, but are very sad that she will no longer be spending so much time with us!

Week 2 was spent closer to our home base, Maubara. Three days were spent visiting Loes Orphanage, which we have never been before, Loes School (one of our regular schools) and Tapamanolu School (last seen in 2012 – very hard to get to). This involved a commute of 40 min along the crumbling coast road. The last 2 days were spent in Ediri School, one of the schools in our program.

The team with HG, WH and DD on the tools

What a hectic schedule!!! The team did a fabulous job – there was heaps of mentoring for Nico, Tino, Ana Tilman and Ana Paula, a whole stack of work got done, and they all had a great time! Henry did a super job of keeping us updated on social media. What more could we ask for?

Back in Maubara with Sister

The TLDP is exceedingly lucky to have so many dedicated volunteers who continue to come back year after year. We are even luckier that we are supported in our work by dental companies such as Henry Schein and SDI. And we are the luckiest to have so many enthusiastic, hardworking, talented  Timorese people working with us. We are immensely grateful in particular, to our primary partners, The Carmelite Sisters, who smooth our way through the bureaucracy of TL. Our program has carried on unabated despite constant changes in the Ministry of Health over the past few years.

The home team watched over by Henry

Nico and AT have become an excellent home team. They are in charge of the Maubara Clinic and our school dental program – Nico is an excellent operator and has the confidence of the Sisters – that is a HUGE endorsement! Although we initially employed Ana Tilman as a dental assistant, she too is trained as a dental therapist and so is now also benefitting from mentoring within the team environment. Her skills are on the up!

We are especially lucky to have an unofficial Timorese Committee of bright, young people – AP, AT, Nico, Tino, Bony and Isa – they are expert problem-solvers and can-do people. They are unstoppable!

Henry trials the new hand washing unit

Team 2 itself was pretty lucky – there were minimal repair issues, although they did get a flat tyre on the way home from Maliana – changing tyres in the dust and heat could not have been fun. They also were the first to try out our brand new custom-made portable hand washing unit – for all those places with no running water (it was a hit! Conceived in the Sunshine Coast, Made in Grafton), and they were the first team to wear our new spic uniforms!! 

Overall, the team examined 1350 people, they extracted 467 teeth, placed 770 fillings, and carried out 722 preventive treatments. Well done Team!

GO TEAM 3!

This Monday marks the arrival of our third team in TL this year. The team comprises team leader, Dr Wayne Pearson, boomerang volunteers – Dr Karen Sloan and the hardcore supernurse, Mrs Sally Stephens; as well as new blood, Dr Marius Mocke and Ms Abbey Notley; the eastern states of Australia are well-represented here – Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland! Along with Nico, it’s a BIG team! They will be spending their outreach week in the offshore island of Atauro – and braving the big boat – the ‘Nakroma’ – which we have previously used to get to/from Oecusse. The team will be taking 2 vehicles over to Atauro, and the Nakroma is the only boat big enough to carry them. We are a little apprehensive – the last time we put a car onto THAT boat, it nearly fell into the sea! Have fun Team 3! Hope you have red skies at night…..

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!

Team 3 is GO

Team 3 will converge on Brisbane Airport early tomorrow morning  as they start the journey to TL. Consisting of Blanche Tsetong, Wayne Pearson and super-excited newbie, Eve Shepard, the team will be in Tl for 3 weeks in the Letefoho, Maubara subdistricts and the beautiful island of Atauro.

The team has finally taken delivery of our brand new Forrest Dental Cart which is intended to replace our ageing and increasingly unreliable ADEC unit. WE are very excited! They will also be taking over much needed donations of dental materials from Henry Schein Halas, Queensland and Northern Territory Health and from Fitzroy St Dental Practice in Grafton. THANKYOU to all our fabulous supporters.

Final 2014 Team READY!

The last team of 2014 is now on-track to depart from Timor Leste in a couple of weeks. It has been a bit of a ride for this last team – administration problems, recalcitrant passports containing one too many numbers for online forms and scary health issues have all contributed to the stress of preparation for this team. Nevertheless, they are still going! You’ve got to admire the dedication!

The last team consists of returning clinicians Dr Hans Raets from Northern Territory and Dr Geoffrey Knight from South Australia, as well as three eager new volunteers – Dr Yvonne Huijser Van Reenen and Ms Breanna Martin, who also reside in the balmy NT, and Ms Anneli Knight, Geoff’s intrepid daughter. It is fabulous to see that this program has true national support, with dentists participating in the program hailing from all states (except Tassie – too far for them to travel, perhaps?).

The team will arrive in Dili on the 6th September. Their first job will be to fix the portable suction unit which was discovered to be leaking on the last day by the July team. Unfortunately, Team 3 possessed neither the tools nor the hand size for the job – thankfully Team 4 consists of taller people and has had the chance to head to Bunnings!

The team will, as usual, spend the first week in the Maubara/Liquiça subdistricts and then will be heading out the hills of Bobonaro for the second week. Lucky them! The area around Bobonaro is exceedingly beautiful and Sr Fatinha and her fellow sisters will make them feel right at home. The only downside are the bells…and the dogs….a very early wakeup call. Fair warning!!

NB: This video was taken from bed. Note it’s pitch black!

 

 

 

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)

Team 2 report summary

Team 2’s visit in June was littered with challenges. An erupting volcano threw travel plans into disarray, a missed turn in the road meant an unplanned trip into Railaco, and  broken compressors and dodgy repairs limited both the work done in the first week as well as the team’s movements. Unfazed, the team – John, Tony and bilingual Sam, with our Timorese partners, Sr Filomena and Aida, the Timorese dental therapist – were able to visit the school in Dair and Liquiça Hospital, as well working in the Maubara Clinic. In total they carried out 829 treatments! Well done team!

Tony Hunt and child in Dair