Our Volunteers: Tim and Corinne Lawther volunteering in Timor-Leste

Ahisaun Foundation, Timor-Leste

Fr Adrian Ola, the founder of Ahisaun Foundation, with some of its members.
Ahisaun provides housing, outreach and training for young people with disabilities. Ahisaun works out of a house in Comoro, Dili, the capital of East Timor. Currently 14 young people live in the house (active members), supported by three volunteers. Ahisaun also supports many disabled youth in the community (passive members).

Their house is also used as a training centre for both its active and passive members. Ahisaun has recently undergone expansion, and for the first time they have a place that they own. Ahisaun recently opened a new facility with a residential capacity for 28 members (both male and female) as well as two carers. The organisation has also acquired two lots of agricultural land, each a short drive from Dili.

Senor Mario Cardoso, the Director of Ahisaun Foundation, placed a request with Palms Australia for volunteer Activity and Project Coordinators to work closely with local staff and volunteers to improve their capacity to manage Ahisaun’s projects, including food security and income generating projects to ensure Ahisaun’s future sustainability.

Tim and Corinne Lawther

Palms Australia recruited Tim and Corinne to meet Ahisaun’s requests for volunteers.

Tim brings expertise in Business and International Relations, including in organising training programs and advocacy and campaigns in international development.

Corinne has qualifications in Child care and International Studies. She has been involved in planning and implementing developmental programs for young people, including working with the broader community.

Tim and Corinne will spend one year working with Ahisaun Foundation as part of Palms’ ongoing partnership, including past volunteers Michael and Cheree Flanagan, Daniel Gilfillan, Lukas Rajnoch and Kristina Gunawan, and “reverse immersion” participant Angelino Benevides.

The partnership has richly rewarded both organisations and all the volunteers and staff involved and Tim and Corinne’s placement promises to further improve the services provided by Ahisaun Foundation to people with disabilities in Timor-Leste.

Tim and Corinne’s placement costs are partially supported by AusAID’s volunteer fund, but Palms Australia needs your support to cover the remainder of the costs. Please use the donation link on the right hand side of this web-page to contribute.

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.

A tour of Ahisaun Disability Foundation in Dili, Timor-Leste

December 2, 2011

In this video tour, Tim briefly shows a variety of the activities of life for the members Ahisaun, including hospitality, music, horticulture, computers, small groups for skill development, prayer and seeking grant funding for further activities.

Click here to read the full article

Video: A tour of a volunteer’s home

September 13, 2011

A video blog from Tim Lawther, sharing some initial thoughts about Timor-Leste and showing the accommodation he and Corinne will stay in as volunteers for Ahisaun Foundation.

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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The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. - Rumi