Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Working Life in Timor-Leste

COUNTRY: Timor Leste
PROGRAM: Faculty Placement
PROJECT: Health Science
WRITTEN BY: Conor Rock, Rebecca Parker and Jantje Lezius

Botardi! (Good Day!)

This week, UQ students further connected with CNR staff which resulted in joint plans for a weekend outing with one of our favourite staff members, Physiotherapist Tomas. We are also embracing the inter-professional nature of our teams, thus optimising client outcomes. Whilst still a challenge, the language barrier is slowly disintegrating with the help and support of CNR staff, as well as exploring creative ways to communicate, such as using Tetun songs and music to engage and motivate our clients. We spend one day a week in each department, Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, and use our teamwork to holistically treat children and adults with a variety of conditions.

Every day, one team gets the opportunity to be a part of the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) team within CNR. Each team of students from Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy travel to a client’s home with an educator and members of the CBR team. There is no greater insight into a patient’s life than sitting in their home or on their front porch. Although sometimes the situation was somewhat confronting, our hearts were warmed by the friendliness, humility and grace shown by the clients and their families for our help, as simple as it sometimes seemed to us. It’s very rewarding to be able to try and improve the lives of those who may not be able to get to the CNR clinic.

We started the long weekend on Independence Day Friday by visiting the Santa Cruz cemetery which was made infamous by the massacre in 1991. After lunch, we sampled the local gelato and some of the group headed to the Taise Markets on the way home where we bought lots of bags and other items that featured traditional Timorese weaving and craftsmanship.

In the afternoon, we went to visit the sacred place where Timor-Leste’s independence was declared at a midnight mass on the 20 May 2002. Pope John Paul II congratulated Timor-Leste on joining the list of “the free nations of the earth” and urged the nation’s people to use their new freedom to build a just and peaceful society. As a result, a statue was constructed on top of a nearby mountain in order to pay respect to the Pope, which we climbed that afternoon and enjoyed scenic views over Dili.

On Saturday, our friendly CNR host for the day kindly took us to our first stop Liquica, a tourist beach. We enjoyed the day playing beach sports and swimming, which was complimented by a hearty picnic lunch of fish and local veggie sandwiches. In the afternoon, we went to Maubara, a local beach where we quickly made new friends: local children, who joined us in our beachside play. We showed them some English songs (e.g.,Hokey Pokey as well as Heads, shoulders, knees and toes) in exchange for some new Tetum songs which we all performed together. Children and students enjoyed playing grip ball, marbles, clapping and ball games as the afternoon seemed to fly by. We left them with gifts so the fun would not stop when we left. We had made our own community for the afternoon, then and there on the beach in Maubara.

It’s hard to believe that we are half way through our trip, but it is safe to say that we are continuously learning more about ourselves and Timor-Leste.

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