Roger Bowen, a paramedic from Hazelbrook, who is volunteering with Palms Australia and Maliana Hospital in East Timor, was surprised last week to be visited by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.
“On the weekend I was fortunate enough to meet Jose Ramos Horta [Timor-Leste’s President] and Kevin Rudd and the Australian ambassador, Miles Armitage. They came by helicopter to visit the ‘Seeds of Life’ agricultural project.”
“AusAID wanted all the Australian volunteers to attend to meet Kevin. At the last minute Jose Ramos Horta decided to accompany K.R. so we all got to meet them both and have a quick chat.”
It was a fairly exciting experience for the volunteers who work with local partners to develop Australia’s closest neighbours, giving years of service with little reward.
In a country with few resources, volunteers help by bringing expertise requested by Timorese organisations. In his role as a Palms volunteer, Roger provides daily practical training sessions, for nursing staff/ambulance drivers and medical students, in the hope of building a sustainable health service for Maliana and the rural areas serviced by its hospital and ambulances.
Mr Rudd, as Foreign Minister, oversees the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). While Roger’s own placement has been funded entirely through the generosity of Palms’ donors, we are hopeful that Mr Rudd and AusAID will recognise the effectiveness of the Palms volunteers they are supporting and extend the partnership beyond its initial year.