Our Volunteers: Margaret & David Hall volunteering in Timor-Leste

Atabae Parish/FPET, Timor-Leste

President Ramos Horta tests a Connect East Timor radio
Located near the border of West Timor, in the Bobonaro district of East Timor, Atabae was one of many areas that felt the brunt of the 1999 destruction.

In the years since Timorese independence was granted, the Atabae community has made slow progress in its development. Problems still exist with the health and education systems. Agriculture and infrastructure projects are working to increase the quality of life.

Fr Marsellus Baonule, SVD, placed a request with Palms Australia to provide volunteers to work with and train local Timorese staff in the Atabae community. In particular, Fr Marsellus has asked for a nurse and a community development officer.

Margaret & David Hall

Margaret & David HallPalms will place Margaret and David Hall to work at Sao Francisco De Assis, training for two years.

Margaret will work in midwife/maternal and child health with a small nursing team led by Snr Alfredo Manuel. She will assist with skill development in clinical care and health education, particularly for women, and planning and managing community based health services.

As community development officer, David will develop skills among youth towards effective community participation, provide training and support to the indigenous nurses and staff in health promotion, community education, water supply maintenance and project management. David will also network between the Atabae parish and the “Friends and Partners with East Timor”, a Brisbane parish (The Gap) which provides resources to Atabae to assist in building the capacity of the community.

A Grassroots Approach to Development

August 10, 2012

Palms staff Barry Hinton (left) and Christine (centre-right) with volunteer John Chang (centre-left), Fr Angelo (third from left), Sr Angelita (third from right) and other staff from Dili Diocese.
In Timor-Leste three-quarters of the population living below the poverty line reside in rural areas (Australia-Timor-Leste Country Strategy 2009 to 2014 p.3) Palms Australia continues to receive requests for volunteers from grass roots communities and organisations to assist build capacities across the health, education and agricultural sectors.

During a recent trip to Timor-Leste, I met with the Teachers, Principals, Community Representatives, Parish Priests and Sisters in Uatacarabau, Natarbora, and Hatubuilico where volunteers have been requested to provide mentoring and training for English and Computer teachers at the primary and secondary schools and within the wider community. Whilst the teachers that we met strive to provide a comprehensive education for their students, they are often limited by the lack of resources, infrastructure and expertise in some areas.

Having the assistance of Palms volunteers will enable opportunities for new skills to be developed, both in schools and in the wider community, providing more inclusive development opportunities for women, young people and people with disabilities.

Further requests for volunteers to assist in training and mentoring in maternal health and dental programs have come from the districts of Ermera, Baucau and in Dili city.

The communities and organisations with whom Palms works with discern and identify their own needs and priorities. In partnering together, we are able to establish a common understanding of what can be achieved and how.

This year our volunteers in Timor-Leste have been training and mentoring in Maliana (Margaret Fogarty, Marilyn Tangey and Melissa Martin), Lolotoe (Thuy Nguyen), Atabae (Margaret and David Hall, Anne Chapman, Sharon Hearns and Ian Gray), Hatubuilico (Damian Rake and Miriam Buchhorn), Baucau (Heath Thompson) and Dili (Corinne and Tim Lawther and John Chang).

Palms hopes to continue responding to and supporting communities and organisations who are determining their own needs and sourcing solutions to build their own capacity relevant to their context.


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Timor-Leste

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 […]

More on Timor-Leste

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. - Arundhati Roy