Timor-Leste Project Changes Lives & Builds Community 

 

IMAGINE a primary school where over a thousand students had to share just 8 classrooms - forcing them to attend in shifts so everyone could learn. Unfortunately that is the harsh reality in some primary schools in East Timor. 

 

That’s the challenge that Aimutin Escola Primária, a school in East Timor’s capital Dili, faces every day.  With 18 teachers taking shifts to work together, there are simply not enough resources, teachers, classrooms and facilities to service the school population.

 

Children at Aimutin Escola Primaria

 

Enter the Timor-Leste Partnership Project – a collaboration between Scouts in Australia and Timor-Leste, Rotary Clubs in Dili and Australia , and the Centenary of Canberra's "Dollars for Dili" campaign. Whilst being an alliance between these organisations, it has also been a partnership between Australian and Timorese young people from Scouts and Rotaract.

 Key Members of Timor Leste Partnership Project

A core part of the project is Timor-Leste Scouts and Rotaract taking a major part in identifying different schools in the area to find one that could benefit most from the aid, and then bringing in their Australian counterparts to help in the service on the ground.

 

The Timor-Leste Ministry of Education in Dili is also involved.

 

Twenty three year old Rover Scout Lauren Tubby from says that the project has made an enormous difference to the school.

 “It was a fantastic project where we were able to work together with the local Scouts and have created strong bonds together. I’d totally do it again and recommend it to others to do,’ she said.  “It’s great to see the work we could do for the school and lovely to see how much they appreciated it.”

 

Lauren joined Rovers from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia and Rotarians to travel to Timor-Leste in July, with funding from Dubbo South Rotary Club, the ACT Government’s ‘Dollars for Dili’ campaign and Scouts Australia as well as a significant financial contribution from each of the team members.


The scheme is also supported in Dili by Toll Remote Logistics, Scouts Timor-Leste, the Timor-Leste Ministry of Education and the local Rotaract and Rotary Clubs of Dili.

 

The project has been working to improve the school’s health and sanitation, where there are currently only four toilets servicing the entire school’s population. The project has signed on a local contractor to build another eight toilet cubicles for the school to improve the school's situation.

 Toilets are scarce in this school

Team Leader and ACT Rover Chris Malam says that the project provided a great opportunity for Australian and Timorese youth to work side by side.

 “Friendships were formed and strengthened, as well as the learning of each other’s culture, language and experiences,” he said. “As a young person it is a truly amazing experience to be able to lead a project of this nature and magnitude and to help the development of one of the world’s poorest and newest nations.”

 

Scouts Australia’s National Projects Commissioner Graeme Fordham AM agrees.

“It’s great to see a partnership between Rotary, Scouts and government leading to an outcome like this,” he said.  “It’s important that our young people in Australia can be directly involved in making a difference for other young people in developing countries. The Timor-Leste Partnership is an ongoing scheme and the Aimutin Escola Primária  project has been a very successful pilot.  We look forward to more of them.”

 

Kathy Radoslovich, funded by AusAid as an Australian Youth Ambassador is also assisting the Timor Leste Scouts to set up their national office and processes over the next 9 months. She has found this experience a life changing, busy and enjoyable experience. She said, "My first two weeks in Timor have been a busy and enjoyable start to my trip, and I am sure there will be many adventures to come."

 

For more information about the Timor-Leste Partnership, go to http://www.scouts.com.au/main.asp?iMenuID=18464305

 


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