The 2019 Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools Dinner was again a huge success. It was fantastic to see that the event was a complete sellout. A true testament to our greater community’s dedication to our friends in Timor-Leste. To commence proceedings, we were delighted to officially welcome our newest committee members, Mrs Carmel Brown, Ms Fran Dorgan, Ms Heather Wallace and Louise Madden who has resided as Vice-President of the GVFS in previous years. We were also pleased to welcome some new faces to our community including many current and former students of Clonard College.
We extend our sincere thanks to Professor Glenn Guest for taking the time to speak and share his inspirational story working with and training Timorese medical professionals. Glenn’s presentation truely opened our eyes to Timor-Leste’s healthcare challenges. Since officially gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste faced many challenges as a new nation including the absence of a healthcare system and medical infrastructure. As Glenn explained, “Timor-Leste was starting from ground zero”. At this time, Timor-Leste only had 11 doctors with limited resources. Glenn, a newly qualified general surgeon at this time then began the mammoth task of working on the front line whilst training Timorese nurses and doctors. As the resident industry expert in the whole of Timor-Leste, Glenn was often required treat patients with a wide variety if ailments. This was a difficult task to manage as in Australia, patients are typically referred to specialists who specialise in specific areas of the body.
Glenn also discussed the challenges of the language and cultural barrier he initially experienced. Glenn explained that is was only after the six month mark that he felt truely valuable. At six months he felt that he could communicate effectively and independently in Tetun. Communication is an extremely important part of his role. Glenn’s comments allowed us all to reflect on the importance of maintaining a growth mindset when is comes to learning about Timorese culture and language. It is far easier and more beneficial for us as visitors to learn some Tetun than for the Timorese locals to learn English. With the support of his wife Lisa, team of international industry experts and dedicated Timorese medical professionals, it is wonderful to hear that progress has been made in Timorese healthcare. Wonderful news! We hope to hear of further progress in the near future.
Also a big congratulations to our raffle winners Jacky Hateley and Melissa Blake who went home with a prize hamper each featuring some beautiful Timorese products. Congratulations to Peter McMullin who won the Madden auction: a two night stay in a beautiful three bedroom unit in Lorne. Congratulations to Ms Jose Waller who won the Chapman auction: one night stay at a stunning Anglesea AirBnB.
All funds raised from the Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools 2019 Dinner go to a great cause supporting GVFS projects: Student scholarships, teacher training and more. Thank you to the Davidson Restaurant, the Gordon for supplying excellent service as always. Another great evening.
Image 1: Raffle winners Jacky Hatley (left) and Melissa Blake (right). Image 2: Presentation by Professor Glenn Guest. Image 3: Happy diners at the 2019 GVFS Dinner.