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In just one week…

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Annette Howard

The huge smiles, the bubbling of excitement and look of happiness on the faces of the Timorese, sums up the amazing week of achievement for the 2018 CWA Dili Work Party. This is the second year the Country Women’s Association of WA has provided assistance to Dili, East Timor. Under the warm guidance of Sara Kenny, CWA of WA State International Coordinator, ten enthusiastic CWA members and four very energetic husbands, all at their own expense, travelled to Dili to complete an incredible array of projects. Kilos and kilos of lovingly- made Indonesian style reusable nappies, Days for Girls packs, babies’ clothing, toys for waiting rooms, educational supplies, sporting equipment and two food processors provided by CWA members from all over the state, and the odd drill or two were innovatively packed in suitcases to meet the 20kg allowance.

Maluk Timor is the NGO that CWA of WA worked through, with guidance from doctors Bethany and Jeremy Beckett. Bethany is from Badgingarra. Local capacity building is the focus of Maluk Timor, while strengthening training and support to provide sustainable pathways to tackle health problems facing Timor. These health issues are huge – rheumatic heart disease; stopping the spread of tuberculosis; managing HIV and AIDS; building, educating and empowering women on maternal health and gender-based violence; reducing malnutrition; dental health and training Timorese doctors and nurses.

At the Kids School Ark in Hera, the work party made two soccer goals and supplied nets; made, painted and installed four blackboards, gave a talk on tooth cleaning; repaired verandah tiles; donated soccer balls, blackboard chalk and educational supplies. Murals were painted in the Paediatric Ward, the ward where the new mums and bubs rest after birthing, outside the antenatal ward, the nutrition ward and in the children’s TB consulting room at Vera Cruz Clinic. Made screens were erected for the HIV/AIDS treatment area and plants and a pot purchased to beautify the area. More murals were painted in the waiting area and three consulting rooms at Formosa Clinic. Repairs to a consulting room included relining and painting. 29 benches were constructed and painted for use at various outpatient clinics.
Casa Vida is the home for abused girls and women. In empowering these girls, a small coffee/shop restaurant open to the public has been set up. The girls participating in the hospitality course were very grateful for the two food processors and the Sorbet lessons that followed. Sewing lessons to a different group of girls on how to make Days for Girls reusable pads was another success story. Many of these girls sew gorgeous Timorese dolls that are sold through outlets, so they were thrilled to make something for themselves.

At Maluk Timor an undercover area to shelter motorbikes in the wet session was constructed. Removing a tree stump saw many different techniques as there is limited machinery available. The Australians tried to burn it out, then came the crowbars, however the most effective tool was a machete. With Maluk Timor being the hub for much of the construction, the local staff were involved in all processes and had the opportunity to learn how to construct the benches and use many tools. While painting the murals many nurses assisted and some even created their own designs. This week was capacity building at its best.
CWA branches throughout WA also generously donated money. This money was used to fund all the materials necessary to complete the projects. Much of the nappies, clothing and Days for Girls packs will be delivered to remote villages by Maluk Timor staff.

It was an inspiring, unforgettable week, nothing working quite as planned, with plenty of sweat, fried banana, laughter and team debriefings. What was completed in a week of time was nothing short of incredible, with the memories and friendships priceless.

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