Our Volunteers: Rebecca Blundell volunteering in Timor-Leste

Fundação Lafaek Diak (FLD)

Fundação Lafaek Diak (FLD) is a small local non-government organisation working for community development in Baucau, Viqueque and Lautém districts of Timor-Leste.

FLD’s programs cover four areas of community development; community-based health care, small business development, education and training and agricultural development. Its primary project is the running of the Triloka clinic which provides direct health care to around 10 remote villages in the Baucau district. As a grass-roots organisation of local staff, FLD is dedicated to participatory development methods and to working towards self-reliant and sufficient communities in Timor-Leste. FLD has requested an Organisational Development Officer to work with FLD’s local staff to improve the capacity of the organisation.

Rebecca Blundell

Rebecca BlundellPalms Australia recruited Rebecca Blundell to fill the position of Organisational Development Officer for Fundacao Lafaek Diak.

Rebecca is an experienced Executive Officer, having worked in high level administrative roles at the state government level. Rebecca has been described as “being passionate about community development work” and as a person who displays “diligence, diplomacy and integrity in all that she undertakes.”

Rebecca will assist with system development, personnel and programs, and will work closely with local staff to develop their skills in these areas.  She will also work with local staff to correspond and report to English speaking international donors, further enhancing the capacity of the organisation to access support, enabling it to further develop its programs and project reach in remote districts.

Please click “donate” above to assist us work with FLD. The effects of your donation will be multiplied many times through the skills and training passed on by Rebecca.


australianunity Palms Australia gratefully acknowledges the support of Australian Unity towards Rebecca Blundell’s placement.

Change can and does occur

August 14, 2013

Monica Morrison volunteered for 2 years at the Catholic Teachers’ College in Baucau, Timor-Leste. She returned for her former students’ graduation.

Having not been back to East Timor since leaving at the end of 2010, I wondered how much had changed and whether I would again be confronted by the poverty. Would I be accepted as a visitor this time? Back then I had been working with the staff towards gaining their Masters of Education degrees and now graduation was near and I had decided that I would like to be there to see them receive their awards.

Monica and Anche
From the moment I left the plane I felt as though I was returning home. Walking across the tarmac, the familiar heat hit me in the face and I saw the wide smile of Anche Cabral (left), one of my former students who now works for Air Timor. This amazing young woman, who represents East Timor in international cycling events, gave me a royal welcome, wrapping me in a warm hug and escorting me through customs and immigration. This visit was going to be wonderful!

My former colleagues, the Loreto sisters, drove me to Baucau. Baucau seemed different somehow and much quieter, perhaps due to the fact that the UN have now moved out. The downpour which met our arrival made everything look rather sad and a landslide had destroyed several of the roadside market stalls.

I was cheered next day by the return of the sun and of the many welcoming smiles of recognition I received and the general feeling of excitement in the air in preparation for the graduation the next day. Mops, brooms and banners were being carried down to the hall, speeches were being practiced and Marie Emmitt and Professor Jude Butcher from Australian Catholic University (ACU) arrived. Invitations for family “festas” were issued including one for me from Assis, and many joyful reunions occurred in the marketplace as former third year students, now all practising teachers, arrived from their villages for their graduation day.

The highlight for me was when my former students received their Masters of Education degrees. I could not stop the tears of pride and joy, and cannot imagine how their own parents felt. I recalled the earlier words to me of Cris, whose own mother died when he was a child: “My mother has come back for my graduation” he said with a hug. What better reward could a volunteer hope to receive than those precious words! I felt proud to represent all the Palms volunteers who have contributed to CTC, acknowledged by the Director Br Fons van Rooij in his welcome speech.

Perhaps more importantly on this occasion, I sat there reflecting that this day was evidence of tangible sustainability. For the first time, the students received their Bachelor of Teaching degrees from the fully accredited Institute itself with only the Masters Degrees for the staff being awarded by ACU. It has taken many years to reach this point—a Teachers’ College fully staffed by trained Timorese, and graduates fully employed in Timorese schools.

Monica (right) and Rebecca
Later, visiting Rebecca (right), a current Palms volunteer in Baucau district, I listened to some of her concerns. I was able to assure her that what she would do over the next two years was very significant indeed. Change can move so slowly when one is in the midst of volunteering. It almost seems imperceptible, but it can and does occur. My graduation visit was important for me not only to join in the celebration with my Timorese friends but to realise that the whole volunteer experience over those two years was all so worthwhile.

Monica will lead Palms Encounter East Timor in September 2013. Contact Palms immediately on encounter@palms.org.au or (02) 9518 9551 to reserve your space.

New faces

February 18, 2013

Brief profiles of 10 of our volunteers taking up placements in Zambia, PNG, East Timor and Kiribati.

Click here to read the full article

Palms’ 94th, my first

By the end of the course, our understanding and knowledge had risen exponentially. The bonds and commonality of participants had strengthened as well. I have no fears now about going to East Timor. I am just excited to meet all my new colleagues and friends that I will discover during my journey.

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

The end of extreme poverty is at hand, within our generation, but only if we grasp the historic opportunity in front of us. - Jeffrey Sachs