Tag Archives: Gordon Saggers

Cowboy and Snake Ride Again

andy and gordon in prisonTeam 4 returned home last Saturday following an intensely busy 10 days in and around Railaco. It has been a while since Drs Andy Moran (Snake) and Gordon Saggers (Cowboy) have been to TL, so they really noticed the improvements in infrastructure, particularly in the quality of the main roads and the availability of electricity; as well as improvements in public health, especially the reduction in betel-nut usage which has been attributed to a public health campaign.

Andy and Gordon were charged with taking over the pressure cooker steriliser that the TLDP has just purchased from India. The fabulous Rotary Coordinator, Daryl Mills, provided us with a spare gas bottle and the boys bought a gas cooker from a supermarket in Dili and now the new clinic in Railaco has a steriliser that can sterilise a load of dirty instruments in 15 minutes!

The pair had a smallish set of dramas unique to working in this beautiful place – on finding that they had the wrong set of handpieces for the dental cart, they had to endure the 4 hour return trip from Railaco to Maubara to make an exchange. They wrestled with a recalcitrant generator, stemmed the flood from a leaky scaler and negotiated the goat tracks, otherwise known as secondary and tertiary roads with audaciousness and resolve. The roads to Tarasu and Leorema are particularly BAD.

andy, gordon and pt

Team 4 was kept extremely busy by the redoubtable Father Bong, treating patients in Railaco, Nasuta, Leorema, Railaco Leten, Gleno Jail, Daicerlaco, Tocoluli, Cocoa and Tarasu. Super-organised Father Bong had patients lined up and ready to go so the boys had very little downtime. He also organised two excellent support staff; a driver and interpreter, Victor, a Timorese who been a soldier in the Portugese army and had worked in Sydney as a cleaner in St Vincent’s Hospital and as a garbage truck driver in Liverpool; and Natalia, an ex-nun who was their nurse and interpreter.

In total, the team saw 335 patients; did 20 cleans, filled 353 teeth and extracted 425 teeth. As Andy puts it, “Not bad for a couple of old blokes”.

Many thanks to Henry Schein Halas who again stepped up to the plate and donated some much needed local anaesthetic to us, to Father Bong and Daryl, whose hospitality and efficiency we could not do without, and to Cowboy and Snake, for their sheer hard work. Fantastic job!

Team 4 ready

Our next team is ready to hit the road this Friday. The dynamic duo, Dr Andy Moran and Dr Gordon Saggers, is our Railaco-specific team this year. They will spend their entire 2 weeks in the company of the fabulous Father Bong and his merry crew. They will be taking over a new pressure cooker autoclave that we have just purchased from India. This autoclave will live in Railaco, which will mean that Tino (the super-dedicated Timorese dental therapist we mentor), who lives in nearby Gleno, can run a regular outreach clinic there. Good luck and have fun Team 4!


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!