East Timor learns from North Coast
Given the massive destruction at the hands of the Indonesia occupiers, rebuilding the nation of East Timor has been no easy task. But with the help of friends around the world, this valiant nation of less than a million people has made significant progress since it gained independence in 2002.
Not the least of its challenges has been building and training a state bureaucracy, now numbering around 12,000, responsible for coordinating such vital services as health, education and security.
Central to this effort is East Timors Ministry of Planning and Finance, one of whose senior managers, Macario Sanches, the chief of human resources and capacity building, spent three days in Lismore recently.
Mr Sanches, born in the tiny town of Los Palos on his nations eastern tip, has been accompanied on his Australian trip by former Southern Cross University (SCU) staff member, Stephen Morris.
Mr Morris has been working as a ministry adviser in Dili, East Timors capital, for the past six months and had glowing reports about the determination of the East Timorese to rebuild their shattered homeland.
In Lismore the pair attended briefing sessions with human resources managers at SCU, the North Coast Area Health Service, St Vincents Hospital, Summerland Credit Union and Lismore City Council. The recruiting, training and motivating of staff were topics of common interest, despite the cultural and historical gulfs.
For Mr Sanches, a fluent English speaker who grew up under Indonesian rule, the trip highlighted the goodwill harboured by Australians towards the East Timorese. He was especially pleased to learn of the strong local support for his country, including the fundraising event held recently to assist the Alola Foundation, set up by Kirsty Sword-Gusmao, wife of the East Timor President.
He also welcomed the recent establishment of the Lismore Friends of Atsabe/East Timor group, which seeks to foster a sister city link between Lismore and the rural Atsabe district as well as establishing sustainable aid projects in the region.