In August 2017, Peter and Helen Newton visited Klibur Domin for two weeks. It was Peter’s eighteenth visit and Helen’s fourth. Neither had travelled to other than the capital Dili, Tibar village (where Klibur Domin is located) and a few other remote villages to observe Klibur Domin’s outreach programs. The rest of Timor-Leste was a closed book to us.
On this visit, the Home Manager, Joaquim Soares and his wife Maria decided to take a week’s leave and drive us 855 km around their beautiful country, much of which Maria had not seen, and there were even a few of the places we visited which were new to Joaquim. It was a voyage of discovery for Helen and me and opened our eyes to the delightful Timorese people, the extreme poverty in the remote villages, the great natural beauty and the tourist potential of the country. However, much is needed to improve the roads and communications and to provide suitable accommodation and restaurants before a tourist boom could occur.
Our first week was spent at Klibur Domin where we were impressed with the tremendous progress made since our last visits. Ryder-Cheshire and Rotary have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past five years to undertake essential improvements and maintenance work which has significantly improved the facilities at the home and its operation.
In the same period, Klibur Domin has acquired a grant of A$400,000 from the Global Fund to set up a second Mobile TB Team to detect and treat TB and to educate village people on how to avoid contracting this potentially fatal disease. With nearly one percent of the Timorese population having TB, Timor-Leste has the highest incidence of the disease in Asia and among the highest in the world.
To serve the transport needs of this second Mobile Team, a new Toyota 4WD vehicle has been purchased with funding from the Rotary Club of Ballina, together with matching Rotary District and International grants. Ryder-Cheshire has worked closely with Rotary in the 17 years since Klibur Domin was established and many of the improvements over the years have been funded by Rotary.
Two years ago, one of the inpatient wards for TB patients at Klibur Domin was found to have serious structural faults due to shoddy workmanship by the original Indonesian contractors in the 1990s. The ward had to be demolished and a new ward constructed. This work is nearly complete, and shortly Klibur Domin will be able to accommodate 22 additional TB patients in a purpose built facility with every bedroom having an ensuite bathroom.
Recent statistics have revealed that Multi-Drug Resistant-TB (MDR-TB) is on the increase. Klibur Domin has the only facility in Timor-Leste for the long term treatment of MDR-TB, so it is an essential player in combatting this most serious strain of TB. MDR-TB patients often spend eight months in the isolation ward at Klibur Domin before the disease is cured. Sometimes they have not survived. With money generously donated by Ryder-Cheshire Canterbury in New Zealand, Klibur Domin is now constructing a second isolation ward for MDR-TB patients.
The Medical Clinic at Klibur Domin had been inadequate for many years and needed to be expanded. With funding from Ryder-Cheshire Australia, the size of the Clinic was doubled and, at the same time, a Dental Surgery was added.
In July this year, Klibur Domin introduced a trial Dental Care Program with two retired dentists from South Australia (Ian Ridley and John Denton, both of whom are Rotarians) treating more than 100 patients in a two week visit. Some technical problems arose with the dental chair and these will be fixed by another Rotarian, Brian Summers, who will travel from Melbourne to Klibur Domin later this year. Once the Dental Surgery is fully operable, the plan is to seek volunteer dentists to travel to Klibur Domin for two or three week periods to treat thousands of Timorese villagers, virtually all of whom have never seen a dentist.
We were delighted to see another Rotary funded project completed which had ensured the power and water supply to Klibur Domin. A second water bore and new pumps, piping and tanks means that Klibur Domin now has an assured water supply. And a new generator and an improved electrical reticulation system have significantly improved the notoriously unreliable power supply for the home. Rotary Clubs in Mount Gambier, together with matching District and International grants funded these major improvements.
The winding up of the Ryder-Cheshire Home in Singleton allowed $130,000 to go to Klibur Domin and will fund major repairs to Ward Two (already completed), major extensions and renovations to the Volunteers’ Cottage (nearly completed), the purchase of a new 4WD ambulance (presently being negotiated) and the resurfacing of all the roads in the complex (to be completed when all the other major building projects are finalised). Once this is done, the intention is to seek a volunteer horticulturist from Australia to go to Klibur Domin for several years to design, implement and maintain a landscape plan, including new trees, shrubs and grassed areas. The aim is to make Klibur Domin as relaxed and peaceful as possible to aid the recovery of the patients.
The recruitment of Fabiola dos Santos to be the General Manager, working under Joaquim Soares, has made a big difference to the management of Klibur Domin, with Fabiola handling day to day matters and Joaquim concentrating on strategic matters, programs and projects. This year we have been fortunate to have had some excellent volunteers, including four teams of Rotarians who have each contributed enormously to Klibur Domin. We thank them all for their tremendous support.