Posted by Katrina Flinn on Oct 30, 2019
How much do you know about our nearest Asian neighbour?  
How is Rotary Club of Hawthorn involved in Timor-Leste? 
Clean water is a real challenge in many developing countries. Without clean water, disease and sanitation are extremely difficult problems to manage. Sadly, this basic necessity is still a little more than a dream in remote parts of Timor-Leste. Presently water is carried to homes and schools, mainly by women and children, from sources that can be several hours walk away. Supplying water to these remote village schools and communities hugely benefits these children and provide them with more time to sleep and study.
This is where  Rotarians have stepped in and formed a Consortium to assist the area of Baguia, a remote area in the highlands of eastern Timor-Leste. Access to water has been deemed the highest priority, as although the area has high rainfall, they have not been able to harvest the water.
Image courtesy of:
Baguia is about a 7 hour drive from the capital, Dili. The local population totals about 13,000 spread over 43 villages.
 Some of the villages can only be accessed by foot, some up to 3 hours walk from the road and some have river crossings.
The villages are spread out as mostly the villages are subsistence farmers with very little paid employment in the area.
When the Timor Rotary WASH Consortium was formed as a hands-on project providing clean water and sanitation in Baguia, the Rotary Club of Hawthorn was keen to participate. Other clubs in the consortium include Camberwell (the lead Club) and other local Rotary Clubs plus the host Timor-Leste club, the Rotary Club of Lafeak.
How are we doing?
The scope of the consortium was to build four toilet buildings and 29 water tanks, and provide WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) training in schools in remote villages of Baguia over the 2-3 years. With local co-operation, and three teams from the consortium, the planned installation of tanks and building of toilet blocks in schools and communities in the Baguia region have been completed.  While initially the consortium teams carried out ‘hands on’ work, their prime role was to act as ‘facilitators’, to provide local schools and community groups with the skills needed to build toilets and to install water tanks.  We are pleased to report that the local communities have responded enthusiastically to this approach and now have the skills and ability to carry out much of the manual work themselves with minimal supervision.
In addition to the toilets and water tanks, a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) training program has been conducted instructing students, teachers and parents about the importance of hand washing in the reduction of water borne diseases in the region.
This project is now almost completed.
So what’s next?
 In October 2019, Rotary Hawthorn Club members joined members from Rotary Club of Camberwell, on working party to Baguia, to research the most pressing needs of the schools and villages. 
We presented four laptops to the dynamic community leader, Mana Leopoldina, to be donated to the school of Larasula (photo) and a guitar, which was accepted with much delight and put to good use straight away. We also conducted some activities in the local primary & secondary schools, it was an absolute joy to interact with the students. Whilst not directly related to our mission, developing local relationships as well as building and trust are of the utmost of importance.
We also inspected recently installed water tanks and toilets, conducted water testing, assessed the effectiveness of WASH training .
However, it was the Community & school assessments that were the main focus of the trip involving numerous on site meetings with school and community village leaders to hear about their immediate requirements for water & sanitation.  These assessments will be the basis of the project work to be undertaken by Timor WASH Consortium 2. Going forward, any agreements for any new projects are based on the villagers providing the rocks and labour to build the tank stands, with the Consortium funding the materials, such as concrete sand, guttering, pipes and water tanks as well as the technical supervision. 
Once Timor Rotary Consortium 2 has its funding in place, there will be a need to send further teams to the Baguia region so we can continue to be part of such a productive project truly making a difference to remote communities, as well as to continue to build on our friendship with the local community.
This is where YOU come in 
Would you like to participate in a team visit? Or can you help in some other way?
To find out how you can contribute and/or participate contact Katrina Flinn or Pamm Robilliard at Rotary Club of Hawthorn Inc.
We have lots of ideas as to how we can support this remote community and develop further our friendships.