Bondia from Timor-Leste (Pt 4)

Adeus Dili, Hello Australia!

As we sit in Darwin airport, we finally have the time to reflect on the past four weeks of non-stop therapy, activities and the excitement of Timor-Leste. After a fast-paced last week, it is hard to believe this placement and inter-cultural experience has come to an end.

This was a nostalgic week, as we knew that each day would be our final time in the Speech Pathology, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy rooms - along with the Community Based Rehab staff. Each session reflected the culmination of all our experiences, combining our interprofessional knowledge with the Centre of National Rehabilitation (CNR) staff to deliver quality therapy. Throughout this placement, the process of sharing our health and cultural perspectives has provided everyone, both students and staff, with more ideas to expand our practices than we could have ever imagined. We will always remember how our friends at CNR are able to deliver such effective therapy with such limited resources, and we hope that the ideas and knowledge that we have shared with them are useful now and in the future.

One experience which we will never forget was when we travelled just outside Dili to a place called Hera. Our whole team joined in the weekly gathering of people, of all ages and abilities, to participate in group therapy and to promote inclusive communities. The highlight of the trip was to get to see the local volunteer students continuing work with the client’s using ideas and activities which we had taught in the group therapy session – all our hard work had paid off and we had genuinely made a difference in the lives of others.

Inspired by this, all the teams were up late most nights finalising the resources and presentations we planned to leave behind for the CNR staff. It was a long process to brainstorm, gather materials, construct, type in English, and translate to Tetun, but, we did have many laughs with the CNR staff while they kindly helped us check our translations. All the effort was worth it when each group presented their topic to the CNR staff and the whole room was full of lively discussion.

We were reluctant to leave CNR after our team’s final therapy sessions, however, we were excited to represent UQ and attend a reception at the embassy as guests of UQ alumnus Peter Doyle, Australian Ambassador in Timor-Leste. This was a great opportunity to celebrate the New Colombo Plan, to meet other health professionals working in Timor-Leste, and enjoy many delicious canapés.

Our final night was celebrated with our in-country partner Paulo and his family, after he invited us for dinner in a beautiful beach-front restaurant. With good company, many unforgettable memories and big smiles, we watched the sun set on our time in Timor-Leste.

Written by Laura, Jemimah and Aleysha.

In case you missed our previous updates, see here for week one, week two and week three summaries. 




Last updated:
22 June 2016