Diplomacy in action: Australian Volunteer Leader visit Timor-Leste projects
Order of Malta member and volunteer leader, Dalton Fogarty participated in a recent visit to Timor-Leste at the invitation of the Order’s Ambassador, Terence Tobin KC.
The opportunity enabled Dalton to visit the Order’s works to investigate potential volunteering opportunities and allowed him to gain some insight into the role the Order’s diplomatic relations play in supporting our work to serve our Lord’s poor and sick. He shares his experience in the following report:
In late August, Timor-Leste has its first Cardinal, HE Dom Virgilio da Silva SDB, newly appointed at the consistory in Rome in late August.
The Sovereign Order of Malta’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Terence Tobin KC, his wife Consoeur Bernadette Tobin and I were invited to attend the celebratory Mass held before a vast congregation on the 5 September at Tasi-Tolu, the site of the famous address by St John Paul ll, giving heart to a people under Indonesian occupation.
Whilst in Timor-Leste the we used the opportunity to strengthen the Order of Malta’s diplomatic presence in the country during a five day visit ending on 9 September.
The mission, on this occasion based in Dili, focused on raising awareness of the Order’s considerable activities in the country amongst high-level dignitaries across the Church, Government and other foreign agencies. It also served as a moment of renewal for the local volunteering program that the Embassy had pioneered through the Creating Leaders scholarship program.
Included in the itinerary were meetings with the Cardinal, the Timor-Leste Minister of Justice, the head of UNICEF’s Timor-Leste Office, the Australian Ambassador, the Vice-Chancellor of the newly established St John Paul II University and the representative of Director General for Health.
Very productive meetings were held with two key partners in the Creating Leaders program which has been in operation for more than a decade: Brother Adriano who heads the Don Bosco Technical High School in Dili and the Director of St Ignatius of Loyola College Kasait, Fr Isaias Abilio Caldas SJ.
The Creating Leaders program is designed not only to fund the schooling of the poorest and the most promising of high-potential candidates but also provide extracurricular development, supported by the local volunteers. It’s through this well-rounded development that students then go on to succeed, and ultimately become volunteers themselves.
Time permitted only a quick visit to the Order of Malta’s Clinic in Timor Plaza. It is the linchpin of the Order’s work in Timor-Leste, delivering primary health care with special attention to expecting mothers and mothers with their newborns. It is the vehicle for delivering the First 1,000 Days nutritional program which is close to the heart of the newly inaugurated President, HE Jose Ramos-Horta, who declared it one of just two priorities for his five-year term of office. At least one leader of a world-wide UN agency commended the Order as the first in Timor-Leste to have launched such a program of its own initiative.
Overall, the mission was a great success, with many stories made, and most importantly warmer connections between the Embassy and the people of Timor-Leste