The club committed to the construction of a new school in the small village of Coitapa in East Timor in October last 2021 and in September 2022, three Rotary Club of Hall members travelled to open the new school building and toilet block.
After some challenges with flights, the team finally arrived in the Timor Leste capital of Dili on Monday 26th September. Where they were met by Kris, Nandi and Simon, the ‘Spend it Well’ team who managed the construction project.
The following day we travelled to Copita school and where we were treated to a traditional welcome before being taken on a tour of the school building that the Rotary Club of Hall paid for as well as a tour of our toilet block.
Roger and Chris both addressed the gathering, before all three Rotarians cut a ribbon to officially open the four-classroom block.
After lunch, after which we gave out some presents to the children. The Spend it Well team brought gift bags with books colouring pencils etc. for all the children.
We left the school to a great farewell with all the children standing in line down the street waving and headed on a 40-minute drive to Fort Balibo which was built by the Portuguese in 1656.
Over the centuries, the Balibó Fort has served as a garrison for Portuguese, Japanese, Indonesian and Australian soldiers. In the evening, we sat around a fire at the back of the fort and watched the sun go down over the Timor-Leste/Indonesian border and the sea beyond. I had a couple of glasses of gin and tonic and a scotch on ice.
They cooked chicken and fish on the fire for dinner and had a pleasant evening chatting into the night. Then the next day, the team went for a walk around Balibo with a local guide before heading back to Dili.
In the week the team spent in Timor Leste, they visited several Rotary projects, including a clean water project managed by Abundant Water in a small school near Dili. The teachers said that prior to having the water filters installed, on any given day, half of the students had dysentery.