Bondia from Timor-Leste (Pt 2)

Botardi! (Good day!)

Here we are at the end of week two of our four week placement in Timor-Leste. In case you missed our first post at the end of week one, click here to catch up.

We are embracing the inter-professional nature of our teams, and optimising client outcomes. Whilst still a challenge, the language barrier is slowly disintegrating with the help and support of CNR staff, as well as exploring creative ways to communicate, such as using Tetun songs and music to engage and motivate our clients. We spend one day a week in each department of the clinic; Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, whilst using our teamwork to holistically treat children and adults with a variety of conditions.

Each day one member from each team gets the opportunity to be a part of the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) team outing. We get to travel to a client’s home along with an educator and members of the CBR team. There is no greater insight into a patient’s life than sitting in their home or on their front porch and really seeing how they live. Although sometimes the situations can be somewhat confronting, our hearts were warmed by the friendliness, humility and grace shown by the clients and their families. They were so thankful for our help, even though it seemed so simple sometimes to us. It’s very rewarding to be able to try and improve the lives of those who may not be able to get to and from the CNR clinic.

This week, as we further connected with the CNR staff, we made joint plans for a weekend outing with one of our favourite staff members, Thomas (a physiotherapist). We started the long weekend ( for Independence Day) by visiting the Santa Cruz cemetery which was made infamous by the massacre in 1991. After lunch, we sampled the local gelato and some of the group visited the Taise Markets on the way home.  We bought lots of bags and other items that featured traditional Timorese weaving and craftsmanship - simply beautiful!

In the afternoon, we went to visit the sacred place where Timor-Leste’s independence was declared, at a midnight mass on May 20, 2002. Pope John Paul II congratulated East Timor on joining the list of “the free nations of the earth” and urged the nation’s people to use their new freedom to build a just and peaceful society. As a result, a statue was constructed on top of a nearby mountain in order to pay respect to the Pope.  We climbed the mountain that afternoon and enjoyed the scenic views over Dili. 

On Saturday, our friendly CNR host for the day kindly took us to our first stop Liquica, a tourist beach. We enjoyed the day playing beach sports and swimming, which was complemented by a hearty picnic lunch of fish and local veggie sandwiches. In the afternoon, we went to Maubara, a local beach where we quickly made friends with some local children who joined us in our beachside fun. We taught them some English songs (e.g. The Hokey Pokey as well as Heads and Shoulders Knees and Toes) in exchange for some new Tetum songs, which we all sang together. Children and students enjoyed playing grip ball, marbles, clapping and ball games as the afternoon seemed to fly by. We left our new friends with  some thank you gifts so the fun would not stop when we left. This is a memory we will never forget, we had made our own community for the afternoon on the beach in Maubara. 

It is hard to believe that we are already half way through our trip, but, it’s safe to say that we are continuously learning more about ourselves and East Timor. 

Written by students Conor, Jante and Bec.


Last updated:
9 June 2016