Our Volunteers: Donna Furler volunteering in Timor-Leste

Bairo Pite Clinic, Timor-Leste

Former Palms volunteer Annette Joyce conducts a check-up in Railako
Bairo Pite Clinic was founded by Dr. Dan Murphy in 1999. Located in Timor-Leste’s capital city of Dili, provides free health care services to the local population. On average, the clinic sees 300 or more patients per day, with a strict policy that everyone must be seen.

Bairo Pite Clinic provides a variety of services, such as childhood immunizations, pre-natal care, dental work, emergency services and seeking diagnosis and treatment for the most serious health problems facing the country including malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever, leprosy and child mortality.

In the past, access to dental services has been limited or non-existent for many Timorese. While some facilities have been re-built since 1999, when many were destroyed, there is still a lack of awareness of the importance of oral hygiene and services do not yet meet the demands of the population of 1,000,000 East Timorese.

The staff of Bairo Pite Clinic, including a Dental Technician and Dental Assistant, has identified a need for a skilled volunteer to assist improve the quality of the Bairo Pite Dental Unit; focusing on the knowledge and experience of the current staff, implementing a public dental health promotion program and participating in mobile clinics. They placed a request with Palms Australia for a volunteer Dental Associate.

Donna Furler

Donna FurlerPalms Australia recruited Donna Furler, a dental hygienist from Mt Barker, SA, to work at Bairo Pite for two years. She will work closely with local staff, sharing skills and expertise and contributing to long-term sustainable development.

Donna has several years experience as a Dental Therapist and Dental Hygienist in South Australia, Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory.

In letters of recommendation, Donna has been described as “an active, committed and trustworthy person” who “has impressed both patients and colleagues with her diligence, willingness to assist others and absolute reliability.”

Donna will now contribute to reducing poverty in Timor-Leste, by improving dental services available both in Dili and areas serviced by the mobile clinic.

The Roadshow rolls on!

August 29, 2011

Donna Furler spoke in Orange of her experiences as a volunteer dental hygienist in Timor-Leste.
After 50 years of humble service, Palms finally decided it was time to blow our own trumpet. Usually, we get access to a parish here or a school there at the discretion of the local priest or principal and the patience of people who sometimes, understandably, feel fatigued.

We felt, though, that our Golden Jubilee warranted a national appeal, so last year we asked the Bishops Conference to show their support for Palms and endorse an appeal in each of their dioceses.

Our Jubilee Roadshow started in Rockhampton in June. Roger O’Halloran flew to join Barry Hinton, our Timor-Leste In-Country Coordinator and ‘boy from Rocky’, to speak at weekend Eucharists and an information session. Barry also lent a hand, cooking 200 sausages at a primary school!

Brendan Joyce flew to Townsville for the July leg of the ‘Jubilee Roadshow’. Brendan was joined by Marie Radford, returnee (Kiribati) from Townsville in speaking at the weekend Eucharists and several schools. Working hard behind the scenes were Len Horner and Rebecca Ryman from the Diocese.

The ‘Roadshow’ literally took to the road in August – through Wagga Wagga and Bathurst Dioceses.

In Wagga Wagga Diocese, Tony Doyle, returnees Anthony Steele (Madang, PNG) and Mary and Peter McPhee (Rabaul, PNG) joined Marie in speaking.

The appeal in Wagga Wagga coincided with the Solemnity of that Diocese’s patron – St Mary Mackillop. Reflecting on this remarkable woman’s  commitment to the poor was a great lead-in to the information session.

After speaking at two high schools – including giving the address at one school’s Mary Mackillop liturgy – the Roadshow rolled into Orange.

Marie visited several schools in the Bathurst Diocese – at Orange, Lithgow, Mudgee and Dubbo.

In Orange, Donna Furler, returnee (Timor-Leste) gave the information session. She and Marie spoke at the weekend Eucharists, while images Donna had taken in Timor-Leste were shown.

Goodwill has been abundant – from the encouragement of Bishops Heenan, Putney, Hanna, McKenna and Wilson, parish organisers, collectors doing extra duty at the door and helpers collecting appeal envelopes to the generosity of returnee speakers. Volunteering with Palms is definitely not – never has been – only an overseas thing!

The next stop: Adelaide in November.

Letters from the field: farewell Donna

December 3, 2010

Rosita works as a dental assistant and has learnt to clean teeth and do dental screening. She has become a very close friend, it was really hard saying goodbye knowing that I won’t see her again for a very long time.

Click here to read the full article

Donna Furler’s CommUNITY News no. 1

March 12, 2010

The time has absolutely flown and it’s been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Having the opportunity to live amongst people of a culture different from my own, in a rural area where Timorese culture and tradition are very much alive, is an education and such a humbling experience.

Click here to read the full article

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Population: 1,292,755

Area: 15,007 sq. km.

Median Age: 21.5

Literacy: 58.6 %

Languages: Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian, about 16 indigenous languages

A brief history of independence. mid 1500s – Timor colonised by Portugal 1859 – Portugal cedes West Timor to the Dutch 1942-1945 – Japan occupies East Timor 28 November 1975 – East Timor declared independent from Portugal 7 December 1975 – invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It is estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 were killed […]

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All people desire peace but only few want the things which result in peace. - Thomas of Kempen