Our Volunteers: Roger Bowen volunteering in Timor-Leste

Maliana Hospital, Timor-Leste

The 2009 Millennium Development Goals report for Timor-Leste describes the under five mortality rate as being an indicator for the general social and economic conditions of society, along with the possibilities for people to living in a healthy, hygienic and comfortable environment.

East Timor has been improving health outcomes in areas like under five mortality rates, however there is still significant work to be done to achieve the MDG targets for health in East Timor.

There is also still a significant divide between the health services available to those living in urban areas, as opposed to those living in rural areas.

Maliana is the capital of Bobonaro district and is 4-5 hours drive South-West of Dili. Its hospital and ambulance service are responsible for providing care and health education for one of Timor-Leste’s poorest districts.

Palms Australia received a request from Dr Vitorino Bere Telo, for a volunteer paramedic to work with Maliana Hospital’s ambulance service to improve the health services available to the people of Maliana.

Roger Bowen

Palms Australia recruited Roger Bowen, from Hazelbrook NSW, to meet this request.

Roger has over 30 years experience as a paramedic in Australia, with training and experience in risk assessment and triage,  and managing casualties in remote, hazardous or hostlie environments, including land, sea and air rescues. He also has experience in providing training in First Aid and on-road paramedics.

Roger will work with Timorese colleagues who have some theoretical training to ensure the people of Bobonaro district receive quality care during transportation or professional remote treatment as required.

Palms Australia are proud to continue their relationship with Maliana, through Roger’s volunteer placement. You can support this work, by using the donate button on the right.

An anniversary, the Tour de Timor and sharing skills

September 27, 2011

Roger at work
The two Timor Leste public holidays for the anniversary of the 1999 Referendum were very quiet in Maliana, there were no obvious memorials or celebrations, just very quiet. Margaret and I walked up to the big white crucifix half way up the mountain, which overlooks Maliana. We found a well cared for “grotto” in a cave below the cross with a large copied sculpture of Michelangelo’s sculpture “la Pieta” in St Peter’s Basilica Rome.

There was a 2 hour Church lead remembrance service on the 8th September, and held in the grounds of the Maliana police station, (8th September 1999 – Maliana police station massacre), there were several wreaths placed at the foot of the black cross, near the flag pole, in the police station grounds. The police station flag however remained at full mast. There are a number of black Crosses throughout Timor Leste, one that is particularly well known is in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili. There is no Christ featured on the black crosses and I think it is because they were erected for the relatives as a remembrance shrine to remember their loved ones who disappeared during the Indonesian occupation and whose bodies have never been found and formally laid to rest.

Margaret and I travelled down to Dil with Deo from Encouragement house who gave us the use of his double cab ute to bring the “8” boxes of donated goods, back to Maliana. This coincided with the final day of the Tour de Timor which was declared a public holiday in Dili. The Tour de Timor commenced on the 11th and Peter Murphy, the U.N. Aussie policeman here in Maliana, and his mate Manfred from Brisbane participated in this very tough event. There were about 450 riders in all. The Tour de Timor is approximately 550 kilometres of rugged mountain roads and tracks all covered in 6 days, with the riders camping in tents overnight with a mobile support crew of medicos, trucks and supplies setting up camp and feeding the riders.

The ride finished at the presidential palace in Dili on Friday 16th. It was a big event for Timor Leste and most of Dili’s roads were blocked and the airport closed on the 16th for the day. Margaret and I were there to see Pete, the Man, and Dave Natoli (Ambulance Dili), cross the line – a tremendous effort and feat of endurance by all. It looked as if most of riders had fallen off at some stage and they all looked pretty exhausted, sore and sorry. There were a large number of Timorese riders and they all finished the race. There was an unfortunate incident with a truck crash involving an Australian Army Tour de Timor support truck overturning and one soldier dying as a result with others injured. It was a sad ending for such a great event, but always a possibility on the T.L. roads.

Last Sunday I was able to demonstrate the use of an Intraosseous infusion needle for the administration of IV fluids in an 8-month old infant needing urgent resuscitation, after multiple attempts of IV cannulation had failed. In Australia the intraosseous infusion needle is used by ambulance paramedics and in A&E depts for babies and infants requiring IV fluid resuscitation in life threatening situations when intravenous access has failed or is not possible. The needle is inserted directly into the bone at particular points of the lower leg (tibia), and the fluids/drugs are absorbed through the venous network of the bone marrow. It is a very old technique, effective but brutal in comparison to intravenous cannulation. Dr. Moniz the medical director here, was unfamiliar with the use of this device as it is apparently not available through the health dept., here in T.L. Cook Medical Australia based in Brisbane produces these intraosseous infusion needles so an email requesting the donation of a quantity of intraosseous needles for Maliana hospital has been sent, in the hope of a favourable response.

Food for thought

    This brief letter speaks of remembrance of past challenges, endurance through sporting trials and ongoing challenges in meeting the health needs of people in East Timor.
  • In what way are these things connected?
  • How is each element an important part of Timor-Leste's growth as a young nation, post-colonisation?
  • What other activities are important in ensuring ongoing peaceful development?

Kevin Rudd visits Maliana

August 29, 2011

On the weekend I was fortunate enough to meet Jose Ramos Horta [Timor-Leste’s President] and Kevin Rudd and the Australian ambassador, Miles Armitage.

Click here to read the full article

Passion and Politics

August 8, 2011

“On the weekend i was fortunate enough to meet Jose Ramos Horta [Timor-Leste’s President] and Kevin Rudd and the Australian ambassador, Miles Armitage. They came by helicopter to visit the Seeds of Life agricultural project.”

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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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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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. - Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe