Rotary Club of Eltham 13 July 2012
East Timor trip a life changing experience
“A truly life changing experience” That’s how 18 year old university student Laura McClusky describes her recent volunteering experience in East Timor. A past student of Montmorency Secondary College studying first year Journalism, Laura recently returned from a two week working trip to Dili with a 20 strong team from the Rotary Club of Eltham.
The group stayed and worked at the Dominican Sisters Orphanage in Dili, repairing and repainting the orphanage and constructing an accommodation block for boys at the orphanage farm 20 kms outside of Dili. Laura spent her two weeks painting and also bonded strongly with the children who are aged between 3 and 18 years. “We worked very hard in hot and tough conditions, but it was very rewarding to see the difference we made.” she said.
Project Leader, Eltham Rotarian Ian Toohill, who teaches at Montmorency Secondary College and is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve, was thrilled with the amount of work the group achieved. “I served with the Army in East Timor a few years ago and promised I would return to help the orphanage, which is one of many across East Timor. As well as the painting and construction work, we set up three computer pods for the children, which they loved. The computers will empower their learning. I plan to take another team back next July.” he said.
The group of 20 included people with a wide range of skills including building, construction engineering , plumbing, painting, nursing, IT, teaching and social work. The group ranged in age from 18 to 65.
The nurses, as well as working hard painting and building, provided health education sessions for the children.
The project cost was underwritten by the Rotary Clubs of Eltham, Mansfield and the Interact Club at Montmorency Secondary College. The college also donated 10 computers, while paint and equipment was donated by Dulux Paints. Another organisation also donated 10 computers. All the volunteers paid their own travel and living expenses whilst in Dili.
“It is easy to be overwhelmed by how much there is to do in East Timor” says Laura. ‘But we made a real difference to the lives of the 70 children at the orphanage in Dili and the farm. That was really satisfying” she says.
The Rotary Club of Eltham also supported a second international project this year, sending a group of people to Fiji to construct homes for the homeless outside Lautoka. This is an ongoing project supported by NZ Aid.
For further information contact:
Ian toohill on 0414 359 365 or Judy Sharp on 0417 309 232