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Teaching in Timor
Last July, a team of five volunteers from
the Rotary Club of Inverell, NSW, Australia, travelled to Timor Leste to
enhance the technology and numeracy teaching skills of local teachers. The
group leader was teacher Kerri Tom, who was inspired to return to Timor Leste
after visiting a school there in 2015 and seeing how deeply the children wished
to learn. “There were six little boys sitting on the bottom of a bookshelf just
so they could have a seat and be part of the classroom,” Kerri said. “That
melted my heart.” Students value education to the extent that many walk up to
two hours from home through rugged and rocky country, usually without shoes.
“It’s been so exciting to work with the kids,” said volunteer Lauren Holder,
whose aspiration has been to work with children overseas. “It’s been a huge
eye-opener to compare lifestyles of the Timorese and Australian children.” “I
am so in love with the country – the people smile with their whole faces,” said
graphic designer Meg Hanlon, the youngest Rotarian in her region and two-time
The group also delivered 500 handknitted
dolls made by Rotary volunteers for use by the local dentist as a treatment
incentive for children. The Rotary Club of Inverell has a longstanding
relationship with the area. The club has been responsible for numerous
construction projects, including a preschool, computer lab, orphanage and
teacher accommodation. They have also installed solar hot water in a hospital and
donated numerous computers, printers and laminators.
Retired principal and club member Bob
Neich, who is also Kerri’s father, has been the organiser and veteran of 13
Rotary visits to Timor Leste so far. He, with other members of a building team,
travelled alongside the teaching volunteers to work on a separate project in
the area: creating a new ablution block for the small hospital at Bairo Pite
Clinic, as well as upgrading existing facilities. The new bathroom, with one
shower and toilet, adjoins the new maternity ward the team built last year.
Previously, only one toilet existed for patients, meaning pregnant women
wanting desperately to use it had to queue – now the women have a choice of
three toilets. “I keep going back, because the need is so great,” said Bob.
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- First published in Rotary Down Under
- The opinions
expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of
Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff