An Australian Team of Dental Volunteers visited Timor-Leste in July 2018.

This is Their Story!

Our Dental Team of Dentist Dr John Denton, Hygienist Lyn Carman, and Dental Assistant Jodie Billinger, arrived in Dili full of excitement and anticipation. We were met at the airport by Joaquim Soares, Director of Klibur Domin, and Patricia McDonell, our Rotary Team Leader. Joaquim shepherded us through customs with our 90 kilograms of dental instruments and supplies. We had each filled our cases full of dental stuff and carried all our clothes for the 10-day adventure in our back packs. We quickly made ourselves at home in the new, very comfortable, Klibur Domin volunteer cottage.

Next morning, we were keen to meet our new local Dental Therapists, Efi, Luis and Maria. Luis and Maria graduated from Dili University, and Efi did a similar course in Indonesia. Their training enables them to perform simple diagnosis and treatment of dental diseases, including fillings, extractions, Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) use, scalings and oral hygiene instruction (OHI).

Dr Ian Ridley and I were very pleased when these local clinicians came on board the KD Dental Clinic Project. Co-operation between Maluk Timor and KD has advanced the KD Dental Project three to four years ahead of our projections. Our Australian volunteer dental team roles have changed from us doing everything, to doing some of the operating and much more mentoring; a role we found very satisfactory and satisfying. Efi, Luis, Maria and Juvita, a student Dental Nurse, were very keen to learn from us and eager to help us with translating and support.

Our first day’s work was split between two teams, comprising local and volunteer clinicians. One team went to Tibar Upper School for dental screening, SDF treatments, oral hygiene instruction and distributing toothbrushes and toothpaste. The other team treated patients in the KD Clinic. We convened at the volunteer cottage for lunch and compared notes. We were reminded of the differences in dental practice in Timor-Leste and Australia and celebrated our new experiences. We were in for a steep learning curve, but were up for the challenge with a smile on our faces. We met with Joaquim after lunch, then we returned the Clinic and the Tibar Lower School. We also met Martin Moignard from Melbourne who worked with Joaquim on administration, budgets and business strategies for KD. Martin became an important part of our team.

The next day we did more dental screening at schools and treating patients in the Clinic. We found the clinical skills of the local Dental Nurses to be very good. They had a good knowledge of their dental stock and sterilising procedures and good hand skills in their operations. All very impressive.

On Wednesday we split up again and did screening and some extractions for staff at Tibar Upper School. In the afternoon we did specific mentoring including extractions, SDF use, and scaling. Lyn is a great tutor and the locals benefitted from her expertise with the ultrasonic and hand scalers. All this was very appreciated by Efi, Luis and Maria.

Jodie Billinger raised $650 through a crowd-funding exercise toward the cost of the new fridge to store dental perishables and 1000 doses of local anaesthetic. Well done Jodie! We also received a donation of $200 to print and bind some excellent oral health care education material, kindly made available to us by Kose Nehan, another Aussie volunteer dental program in Timor-Leste.

The team spent Thursday in the clinic treating patients. We had a lovely thankyou afternoon tea with Joaquim and the Staff at KD. We were each presented with colourful tais and a big bag of coffee! After dinner that night, our team worked in the dental clinic stocktaking equipment and supplies. Donated equipment and consumables needs to be well targeted and useful.

We held our final Dental Clinic on Friday morning. As is often the case, when trying to finish a dental clinic session at a specific time, the last extraction procedure is a difficult one. Today was no exception! I am pleased to report that the offending broken down upper wisdom tooth eventually came out! The patient was still smiling! We said our goodbyes after an important debriefing with Joaquim and another great lunch. All our meals at KD were fantastic. We said our goodbyes to KD.

We were fortunate to visit Dili University Dental School. We had a meeting with the staff and students and viewed facilities. We came away with the hope and ideas to be able to help them with ongoing issues of aged and non-working equipment. Only 1 of 10 dental chairs was working! It validated our decision to use simple equipment at KD, to minimise down time through break down.

We spent our last evening discussing dental volunteering and the challenges and joy it brings to all those who are willing to open themselves up to that wonderful experience. We will be back!

Dr John Denton

Vale Cheryl Germaine Nesbitt

I first met Cheryl at the beginning of 1968 in Sydney when my cousin brought her along to a Raphael fundraiser event. It was a Japanese luncheon prepared by Jenny at Barbara Coleman’s home in Sydney.

Cheryl joined Ryder-Cheshire for the next 50 years. She was a Director on the NSW Foundation for 12 years. We met again when she moved to the Hunter Valley and she joined the Singleton Ryder-Cheshire Support Group where, for many years, she was our President and Public Officer, maintaining her support of the Ryder-Cheshire NSW and the National Foundation. She sold copious Christmas cards.

With a background in Real Estate and Banking, her expertise and competence were invaluable. She was compassionate and generous, and had a unique balance of firmly standing up for what she believed was right, coupled with a sense of fun. She could turn her hand to anything, even running up the curtains forLocksley, the then Ryder-Cheshire Home in Singleton, NSW. It was under Cheryl’s watch that we incorporated and eventually wound up the Singleton Home, distributing the funds to other Ryder-Cheshire projects. She was delighted with the progress reports of that money being promptly utilised where needed.

She managed to make a mark with other causes as well; St. Michael’s Church and community groups in Wollombi, Family Support in Cessnock, St. Patrick’s Church baptisms in Singleton, St. George Bank Foundation and the National Party to name some, but Ryder-Cheshire was her favourite charity. Her hobbies were many; a talented artist, cook, gardener and perfect hostess.

A devout Catholic, her battle with cancer extended over four uncomplaining years. We saw her as brave, beautiful, and positive. In detail, she calmly organised her affairs so that her family would not be unduly burdened, attending to any maintenance issues. A fortnight before dying, she told a tradesman that he needed to expedite the job as she was going away soon, travelling.

Cheryl was an inspiration, a dependable friend. She shall not be forgotten. We all miss her deeply.

Anne Boyd

Time at Klibur Domin

RCA Volunteer Martin with Klibur Domin staff in July 2018

I recently returned from six months volunteering at Klibur Domin, from February to July 2018. It was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience and I would strongly encourage anyone with even a short amount of time to make the journey to Timor-Leste to see Klibur Domin (KD). I spent most of my time supporting the administration, although every day was a little bit different and over my time there I ended up with great variety of activities both in and out of the office.

I have been thinking about what really grasps me the most about Timor-Leste and KD. The solidarity and teamwork of KD’s staff and the passionate efforts of supporters have been inspirational, and the beauty of the country, its mountains, its coastlines and its oceans have all had a great impact.

Klibur Domin’s Community Based Rehabilitation program manager Gregorio and physical therapist Manato walk along a mountain trail to reach a house which is inaccessible to vehicles.

Going out into the community with KD’s Tuberculosis (TB) and Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) teams made clear the scale of the work KD is undertaking to address healthcare needs in Timor-Leste. It is easy to underestimate the distances and the time needed to reach patients in Timor-Leste.

A large proportion of the communities impacted by KD are in the mountains and as a result there is a tremendous logistical component to KD’s community work. To illustrate the vertical scale of Timor-Leste’s mountainous terrain, the ocean trench off the coast is 3,000 meters deep, and the narrow island rises to 3,000 meters above sea level at its peak. This makes it both a beautiful and challenging country.

The local area around KD is flat and hot during the day but driving inland with tremendous gains in elevation in the first few kms, the temperature drops rapidly. It is too simplistic to think of Timor-Leste as a small country in the context of delivering healthcare to those in need, as well as in the ability for the sick to reach medical attention when they need to. In reality the overwhelming expanse of mountains and valleys make the country vast.

Issues around transportation weigh heavily in the minds of program staff, with regard to reaching those patients already identified, as well as the knowledge that there are other areas which are in need of contact; issues made even more challenging during the wet season when roads become increasingly difficult. Facing these challenges, the perseverance of KD’s TB and CBR outreach programs to reach these villages by 4WD, on motorcycles, and by foot, are truly praiseworthy.

KD is making significant contributions towards the global effort to identify and treat TB. This disease is a very serious issue in Timor-Leste, having one of the highest rates of infection worldwide. The reasons are manifold, with living conditions and access to appropriate healthcare leading the list of many stresses. What really sets KD apart is the active case finding strategy to seek out those who have TB in remote communities combined with an in-house directly observed treatment program; the best of its kind in Timor-Leste.

A weekend excursion to the beach with Klibur Domin staff and patients

There is a vital link between the work that KD does in community outreach and the inpatients program that will help free Timor-Leste of this high burden of TB in coming years. The recent completion of additional facilities at KD to treat more TB and Multi Drug Resistant-TB patients has been a necessary investment towards this global objective.

Every day at KD ensures that patients complete their treatments and have activities to keep them physically active and prepared to regain their livelihoods when they return home. A family I met in the community said that they could never thank KD enough for treatment which cured them of TB, and that it was their hope that KD’s presence will continue for many years to come.

As KD expands beyond TB and CBR it has been very exciting to see the Dental Clinic up and running. It is a program that is bound to have lasting impact. There are so many people who have had little to no dental treatment in their lives, and the amazing contributions of the volunteer dental teams are making serious inroads into dental health in Timor.

The efforts of the Dental Clinic both in treatment and education is truly magnificent. Through the efforts of KD in partnership with Maluk Timor, many people come through the Dental Clinic for treatment. With this helping hand, they can focus on achieving their ambitions without the burdens associated with dental complications.

It was great to have so many visits from Ryder-Cheshire and Rotary volunteers while I was there, catching up on news from back home and feeling the brightness and motivation of everyone who made it to KD. We had many memorable evenings in the volunteer cottages. Amazed by the common connections I found with many of the volunteers, I was reminded of what a small and interconnected world it is that we live in.

Broni and Snr Joaquim Soares discuss the use of water and fertilizer to care for new plants at KD

Hearing about the worsening drought facing Australian farmers was concerning. It is an experience shared with the Timorese.

By the time I was preparing to return to Australia, it was well into the dry season and the fields around KD that were so productive earlier in the year were becoming very dusty and bare. A large proportion of Timorese are involved in small scale agriculture but even in the more built up areas around KD, people generally make full use of their land with crops, fruit trees, and livestock.

KD is right on the edge of the rural and urban environments and while there is still a strong sense of biodiversity in the area, increasingly there are the flow-on effects of the rapid urban development of Dili. KD is working to ensure positive environmental outcomes, paying close attention to our own waste, water and energy use. A recently completed incinerator has given us an effective method of medical waste disposal, we have installed our first solar hot water system, and the Garden Program will help to address food security at KD in coming years, providing leadership for staff and patients to improve horticultural practices, and further reducing our carbon footprint.

Carmelita leads the way at Tybesi Market, which is Dili’s largest fresh produce market, where we collect KD’s food for the Inpatients program. KD is making progress to supplement purchases with on-site food production.

And it says something about KD’s success that through the years the tireless efforts of volunteers working hand in hand with staff have helped maintain the vision and momentum. We are achieving so much every day for the relief of suffering and it really feels like there is a prosperous future ahead for KD because of these unwavering commitments.

Coming back to that initial question of what really captured me in my time at KD, I would have to say it is the resilience of the Timorese people and their long history of struggle and determination that is truly inspiring. The strength and positivity of the Timorese people is a testament to the spirit of human endeavor and it has been incredibly rewarding to be part of this amazing team that is contributing to their future.

Martin Moignard

Josie and her Family at Raphael


We went as a family to volunteer at Raphael (Ryder Cheshire Foundation) in Dehradun, India. It was Molly’s idea which then took hold.

Molly (20), was on summer holidays from university, Roland (17), had just finished school and did not wish to take a gap year but accepted this challenge; I was eligible for long service leave from Maternal and Child Health Nursing and Rick, a self-employed builder, could manage his time. As well as volunteering with special needs children and assisting with a humanitarian orgaisation, we hoped to experience India in a true and meaningful way.

As Raphael was closed for Christmas holidays, our month of volunteering there would start mid-January. So, we planned three weeks of travel and sight-seeing beforehand. It was winter time in India. Our journey started in Kolkata so that we could spend a few days with our old exchange student, Deeksha, and her family. They were wonderfully hospitable and introduced us to the food of West Bengal, took us to a wedding celebration and to New Year’s Eve events in Kolkata. It was a happy start to our holiday. Continue reading Josie and her Family at Raphael

A Second Home in Mt Gambier called Cheshire

The Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Board has long known that if we could build a second home on the vacant block of land next door to the current home that there are sufficient in the region who would like to become residents. We have already received a number of enquiries.

Last year we submitted an application for funding under the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund program.

We would not have been able to apply if it had not been for the generous donations from Ryder-Cheshire Australia of $100,000, $100,000 from the Ryder-Cheshire Support Group at Singleton in New South Wales, $50,000 from Ryder-Cheshire South Australia, $30,000 from the Evans Family Trust, $20,000; plus significant donations from the Rotary Club Mt Gambier West and others. We were fortunate to receive the profits from the catering for the Rotary D9780 District Conference in early April 2018. This was the combined efforts of Soroptimists, Lionesses, Rotary, Red Cross and the Ryder Cheshire Catering Group.

Together with accumulated funds it was deemed feasible to arrange for a building loan from the Police Credit Union.

On 4 August 2017 Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, as Minister for Regional Development, announced that the Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Board’s application for funding under the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) had been approved.

Our architect, Stephen Herbert, steered the tendering process. It was decided that the Board would accept the cheapest tender as this was from the same builder who had built the first home. The architect concurred. Continue reading A Second Home in Mt Gambier called Cheshire