Boramba kindergarten.

Well what a month Belinda and I have had. We spent 10 days visiting Bei Cala village and area, visiting schools and supporting the network of kindergarten teachers we are building.

Kindergartens in Bei Cala and Boramba and progressing well. Student attendance is up, with it being higher at the beginning of the week. Not much different to home. Thursday is market day and many students go with parents and who doesn’t want a long weekend on Friday. Despite this, I am confident that numbers are slowly building, with around 60 preschool age students having consistent attendance across the wider region.

The Grub Club was able to supply 2 computers purchased through computers4learning¬†a project of Rotary Nundah. One for each kindergarten. While they don’t have internet service they can write programs and keep attendance, it also allows the teachers to build computer skills and gives an opportunity for our teachers to get together and collaborate. While there I held some computer lessons with the help of Paolo Alves. Paolo was invaluable as my tetum is a bit scratchy. We were also able to hand over a few extra resources to both kindergartens.

A big thanks to Juela Da Costa Ramos, Zelia Maria Da Costa and Rosalia Da Costa from Boramba Kindergarten and Baselia da Costa and Sandra Maria Paco-Real from Bei Cala Kindergarten. These ladies are all volunteers and deserve my eternal gratitude.

While there, we also had the opportunity to visit Bobe. Bobe is the site of our third kindergarten. Bobe school is slightly isolated but also part of the Hatu Udo administrative area. The weather had been very mild and rainy, which we thought was going to prevent us from making it to the village, but the day before we left, roads had dried out enough to let us through. Thanks to Amalie, a very experienced driver, we visited and handed over the first down payment for the kindergarten. The kindergarten’s budget is USD$12000, which has to cover everything. This school should be finished within 6 to 8 months.

While there was plenty of rest time, with a visit to the beach at Betano, we also got to visit Suai. Suai is located about 2 hours driving south west. It is by the sea and the location of the new airport (I think there is 1 flight a day). There we stayed with Antonio Gomez’s family. Antonio is a serving member of the Australian ADF and works in logistics in Dili. He has been with the ADF for over 12 years. He is also translator and interpreter. We were lucky enough to meet Antonio last October and will now collaborate with his family to bring a kindergarten to Kammenos, Suai. Antonio’s sister (in Suai there is a matriachal relationship for inheritance), Emilia Da Costa and her husband Paolo Da Costa have donated the land. Antonio will head up the project and look after financials, his brother Mersu Gomez will be the on site project manager and another brother Ameu Barras a builder/carpenter will be in charge of the actual build. This is another family affair for which we are very grateful. They will build for a total budget of USD$12000 and are at present drawing up plans to suit their local site and environment. We envisage in 12 months time we will have a fourth kin

Bin playing with students at Boramba.


We were lucky enough to not only travel with Antonio and family but we met Lance Corporal Lisa White who also accommpanied us. Thank you very much, it was an absolute pleasure, thank you to Major Andrew March and Sgt David Marshall for allowing both Antonio and Lisa out of the office. I will be sending thank yous to all.

Finally, on our return we drove on a death defying road from Suai to Balibo. It improved slightly after that. Thanks to Bin (apparently it means big sister in Tetum) for driving, I certainly wouldn’t have, but I got to tick a bucket list item. I visited the site of the Balibo 5. This is a haunting place. The museum while small tells the story of the Australian journalists and more. It is one of those news items I can actually remember from 1975 and the following years. So much more to tell.

Well in a nutshell that was visit 2018. I look forward to my next journey to Timor Leste, probably next year.

  Teacher Juela Da Costa Ramos working with students at Boramba.

Teachers and Paolo at Bobe.

Kindergarten site Bobe.

A class at Bobe.