Meryl

Klibur Domin provides In-Patient Care, TB and MDR-TB treatment, and Community Based Rehabilitation for persons with Disabilities.

Klibur Domin is located at Tibar, in the District of Liquica, 17 km from the capital of Dili.

On the 16th October 2017, I flew from Brisbane to Timor-Leste, arriving at Dili Airport via Darwin. The purpose of my travel was to undertake the role of volunteer at Klibur Domin.

On arrival at Dili airport, Fabiola, the Manager of Klibur Domin, welcomed me. That first day Fabiola and other staff answered my many questions about potential work, the sense of place, culture and expectations for a volunteer. I had become both extremely nervous and excited at the same time. I absorbed everything like a sponge. During the next couple of weeks, I was able to meet all the staff and residents. The staff were extremely respectful and it seems that it has become natural for them to engage with volunteers in every aspect.

During my tenure, I was encouraged to learn Tetum, one of the official languages of Timor-Leste. I found learning Tetum challenging but I was able to develop an understanding of simple words and phrases. The staff and I found ways to work around the language barrier and it was fortunate that many of the staff could speak English.

On Sunday morning, the Respite Centre holds a church service. It was here that I was able to engage with many of the long-term residents of Klibur Domin. One long-term resident, Fatima, who was 92 years of age, would shake my hand as she often walked past our volunteer’s house. I was impressed with how well Fatima was cared for by staff. She was able to wander the compound freely, it was clear she was relaxed, home and peaceful. I thought this was wonderful for Fatima at her age.

After introduction and consultation with the Director, Joaquim, and Fabiola, my roles and responsibilities were established. My role would be to deliver a beginners English class to staff, deliver sewing /crocheting classes, support the administrative staff and support Fabiola and Carmen who had many responsibilities at Klibur Domin.

Other important events included:
• a Rotary meeting with Joaquim at the Timor Plaza;
• assist with the design of a crocodile-warning poster in order to advise the community of the danger. Give some security suggestions as I have been in both the military and security work;
• visit by Minister of Health, Timor-Leste, and protocol staff;
• All Souls Day.
• a Graduation Ceremony of four (very proud) Klibur Domin students.

I was fortunate to work with a woman called Marta, also a volunteer but originating from the United States. We were able to bounce ideas back and forward. Marta was delightful. She reminded me not to worry so much about not having all the tools for preparing a lesson. “Just be creative, otherwise we miss out on the things that are important”. Marta taught me a lot. Mostly, to work within the perimeters of what you already have. Be creative and innovative.

I have taken this thought back home with me and it truly is the best souvenir. We all have something to give. We all have different skills to impart.

Another of my best memories was on a Saturday morning; I was catching a mikrolet to Dili. A young boy asked me if I would speak English with him. He said he was hoping to go to University. I sat with the boy for the afternoon and he was very eager to learn. As I left, I looked back at him and he was practising. He was so determined and it was so easy for me to give him my time.

My biggest frustration was not knowing enough Tetum. Next time I will take the time to learn more before I depart, in order to assist with lessons and show a greater level of respect to the people of Timor-Leste.

I am now looking at undertaking the TEFL (Teaching English Foreign Language) course to pursue further opportunities. I hope to visit Klibur Domin again in the future. We all have skills to impart but for the most part, we do not realise the potential.

It’s so easy to become homesick when we are away from friends and family. I found it much easier to focus on what I could achieve, that is not to say that at some stages I didn’t feel challenged and frustrated. But you soon get over it. This is where you learn a lot about yourself and make new friendships.

Every day is a different day so you brush yourself off and start afresh. When you are taken out of your element and when you are put into a less comfortable place it enables us to grow and learn a new way. It’s so easy for us to become fixed individuals. Going to any Developing Country puts things into perspective.

I departed on 18th December 2017 with sadness, I would recommend to anyone to do volunteer work.

In closing I wish to thank Ryder-Cheshire for giving me this opportunity, and I wish to thank all the staff and residents at Klibur Domin for their kindness, hospitality and support.

Meryl