Tag Archives: overseas aid

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!





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.


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)

Dinner with the PM

All of us who are involved in the Timor Leste Dental Program are very excited. As all our friends and supporters are well aware, we have been looking for funding for Troopie 2, for a new compressor and for the general running of the program. Knowing this, the fabulous people from the Chatswood Rotary Club have taken it upon themselves to organise a fundraising dinner, with our dental program as the major beneficiary! The icing on the cake is that the Honourable Tony Abbott, MP, Prime Minister, will be speaking at this excellent event. The fundraiser is on August 6th.

little boys in Maubara


The Generosity of Others

The Timor Leste Dental Program has just received another couple of generous donations.

The amount of funds raised now stands at $24730

I am humbled by the generosity of so many people, many of whom we have never met, but without whom this program could not survive. We are a small program and we are well aware of the lack of glamour and urgency associated with teeth, especially when compared with famine, war and natural disasters. Hence, on behalf of all Timorese people and the dedicated volunteers, I would like to offer my deepest thanks to all our supporters. Teeth may not be ‘sexy’ but – as many people have experienced firsthand – they have the ability to cause the most acute suffering. Your continued support directly contributes towards alleviation of suffering, increased health, and empowerment of the Timorese people. Thank you and thank you again.



Team 2 is GO!

Our second team to Timor Leste leaves today. Dr John Moran, Ms Sam Moran and newcomer, Dr Tony Hunt, all come from far flung Western Australia – too far to be thwarted by a little dust from Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia!

Once the team touches down in TL, they will have to face other immediate challenges – the old Troopie is blowing hot air out of the air conditioner and has lost its roof racks for good, and they will have to relocate our dental compressor, which had to have a last minute repair in Dili…somewhere….

The team’s program has them in Maubara/Liquiça subdistricts for the first week and in a new location, Bazartete, during the second week. But who knows? Things change in an instant in TL. Good luck, Team!

April Team returns!

David, Carolyn and Peter with the old troopie
David, Carolyn and Peter with the old troopie


Another successful trip. Locations attended: Maubara Clinic, Maubara High School, Ediri School, Lebotelo School, Railaco, Nasuta, Railaco Leten, Tocolulu

The team spent their first week in and around Maubara, the second around Railaco. This team consisted of dentists, Peter Shakes and David Digges, and Carolyn Digges, working as the team’s dental nurse, and two of our mentored Timorese dental therapists, Aida, who works in Liquiça and Maubara, and Tino, who is currently stationed in Gleno, as well as Louis, the driver who doubled as the sterilisation nurse. Sr Filomena coordinated the work around Maubara, whereas Fr Bong and Sr Rita coordinated in Railaco.

"Aida the extractor"
“Aida the extractor”

The Troopie was drivable this trip. Yaay! Nevertheless, as always, a number of small problems plagued the team. At Ediri School, the team almost expired from a heat that caused the generator to stall and the compressor to overheat  and, even worse, the emergency fan to die! Small repairs and adjustments to our sometimes temperamental equipment were carried out by Peter; he also organised the repair of the Troopie’s flat tyre in Railaco – we love useful, mechanically minded volunteers!

Tino and Carolyn
Tino and Carolyn on fire

Tino and Aida, both hardworking, enthusiastic and capable clinicians,  benefited greatly from working with two very experienced dentists. Peter was tireless in the support and training he gave during this visit. Like many before him, he noted that despite their impressive skills, lack of support from the Ministry of Health in terms of equipment, materials and facilities limits their capabilities to help the community.  Aida and Sr Filomena had already screened 2/3 of the massive Maubara High School prior to this team’s visit and they plan to return to finish the screening in readiness for the next team visit.

Overall, the team carried out 310 examinations, 332 extractions, 135 fillings, 87 preventative treatments – a total of 886 treatments! Well done to you all, and thank you for all your hard work!