Our Volunteers: Margaret Fogarty volunteering in Timor-Leste

Organisaun Haburas Moris

Haburas Moris is a Timorese non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to improve the lives of people in Bobonaro District in Timor-Leste. Their comprehensive programs include priority areas of agricultural development and food security; women’s development and health; and environmental sustainability.

Haburas Moris employs 22 Timorese staff and has previously hosted Australian volunteers from two other organisations. They have indicated that having had volunteer advisors previously, they are now “looking for a person who can integrate into our organization and help build capacity from within rather than act as an advisor only”.

The managing director of Haburas Moris placed a request with Palms Australia for a Organisational Development Officer to “embed best practice in organisational development and processes”. They sought a volunteer from Palms who would integrate into the organisation, rather than act as an external advisor.

Margaret Fogarty

In 2011 Palms Australia recruited Margaret Fogarty, an IT professional from Perth, to fill the above role with Haburas Moris.

Margaret brought years of experience in IT and computer systems to OHM, including analysis, systems management, programming, process documentation and quality assurance. She has worked in Ireland, U.S.A. and urban and outback Australia.

Margaret had volunteered locally with Mission Australia and Red Cross and was described in letters of recommendation as someone who “thrives on new opportunities and life experiences” and “enjoys immersing herself in different cultures”.

Having completed her placement supported by AusAID’s volunteer fund, Margaret has agreed to give a second year to OHM. With generous support, OHM and Palms Australia met the costs of this work.

Inspiring women drive change

February 18, 2013

Kevin (rear, left) and Margaret (rear, third from left) with Mana Rince (in front of Margaret), Mana Dina (far right) and OHM staff and volunteersMy role here involves working closely with the management team, in particular the Managing Director (Mana Rince) and the Finance Officer (Mana Dina), both females and founding members of OHM. The team are young, ranging from 24 – 37 years and work hard for their rural communities, training them in programs including agriculture, food and nutrition, water and sanitation, and building school kitchens. They are a very happy bunch and we have had lots of laughs together. While it is not directly part of my role, I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of the communities they support and see at first hand the great work they do which makes my time here all the more satisfying.

As with all non-government organisations (NGOs) funding is critical. While Rince has good English, the level of detail required in project proposals by many donor organisations means my technical writing skills have definitely been kept fit and well. OHM already had many Quality Assurance processes such as finance procedures, position descriptions, staff contracts, strategic plans etc. in place, so I have helped with suggestions to make them more practical to their programs.

OHM is the only local NGO still to be in operation in the whole of Bobonaro district (pop. 92,049). The others have not been able to survive more than 1 or 2 years due to lack of funding. 2012 was one of the toughest years for OHM. With the government and presidential elections, many donor organisations delayed or cancelled project funding ‘just in case’ or with a ‘wait and see’ approach. I did find that hard. We worked diligently on submissions – not knowing if/when the project might be cancelled. Some OHM staff became ‘volunteers’ themselves with others donating back some of their salary from their successful projects to enable the organisation to provide a basic allowance. I have the pleasure of working with a very committed group of people.

I have loved hearing stories from Rince and Dina about the early days of OHM and the challenges they faced in order to establish their NGO – like riding on the back of a motorbike for over five hours on an almost non-existent road, while 8 months pregnant! These inspirational stories put many of us to shame for our complaints about trivial things.

A Grassroots Approach to Development

August 10, 2012

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.

Click here to read the full article

Orientation Course #92

August 29, 2011

There is something very rewarding about watching such a group interact, sharing their own expertise while working through Palms’ cross-cultural program, refined over 50 years.

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 […]

More on Timor-Leste

Why you do speak so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying. - Bruno Hagspiel