Greetings Fellow Consortium Members and Supporters,

We are now able to report that a very successful visit to Timor-Leste has been completed on behalf of the Consortium to view the progress made over the past two years on this project. 

Our small Team comprising John Walmsley and Justine Paragreen from the RC of Camberwell left Melbourne at 6.00am on Friday 30th September and arrived in Dili mid-afternoon. We were met by Mario De Jesus from Rotary's Dili office, who helped to purchase local SIM Cards and then drove us to EDS from whom we had arranged to hire a vehicle from the following day. We then went on to Vinod Patels which is a large hardware supplier to check and pay for goods and other materials that we had pre-ordered before being dropped off at our accommodation at a Dive Centre on the Dili waterfront. 

The following morning, we were picked up by our driver in a Toyota 4x4 Troopie, after which we returned to Vinod Patels to collect our various supplies before taking the coast road to the major city of Baucau, which is approximately 160km east of Dili. This road used to be in very poor condition but has recently undergone major reconstruction by the Chinese and is now a well-constructed 2 lane highway which halves the journey time. We stopped briefly in Baucau for lunch and then headed to Baguia which is only around 60km away but takes over 2 hours to reach due to the road being extremely rough in parts and basically a 4-wheel drive track for most of its length, with many dubious bridge crossings.

On arrival in Baguia we were met by Ms Leopoldina Guterres who is our principal in country coordinator and also a member of the Rotary Passport Club of Melbourne. "Mana Leo" as she is known throughout the district is an extraordinary woman who apart from being the principal of the St Joseph's High School is a director of 8 regional Primary Schools and is deeply involved in many other major Rotary and non-Rotary programs. She had arranged accommodation for us in a renovated Portuguese Fort that provides food and clean accommodation. 

The next 3 days were spent visiting vehicle accessible locations where Water Tanks and Toilets had been constructed over the past 2 years by local villagers using their own labour and with our Consortium paying for materials such as sand, cement and galvanised Water Tanks etc.

During our time in Baguia we visited many villages including the very remote village of Loiulu in the Viqueque region south of Baguia where we were given an extremely warn reception by the community which included much singing and dancing and a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open their new school Toilet. This was quite an emotional experience and a demonstration of the gratitude of the community for their new Toilet and Water Tank.

At the community of Rabilai, a polypipe had been laid from a spring to the Water Tank but approval from the local Water Authority was awaited before the connection could be made. Only one toilet cubicle had been completed but the local Police Commandant, on whose land the Toilet and Water Tank are positioned, advised that the other two toilet cubicles would be completed as soon as the connection of the Water Tank had been approved by the local Water Authority.

All the other Toilets and Water tanks that we inspected had been well constructed with the community Toilet in Bubuha even having a tiled floor. 

During the 3 days that we spent with Leo Guterres visiting schools and communities in the region, numerous other welcomes were received, and notes taken of suitable locations for new Water Tanks and Toilets as well of any repairs needed to existing pipes and taps etc. A change in the weather at the end of our third day in Baguia caused us to return to Dili one day earlier than originally planned to avoid being trapped by heavy rain as the Wet Season was beginning and because we had a long list of Project purchases that could only be obtained in Dili.

These included things such as plumbing fittings, polypipe and blocks of soap for use in connection with the ongoing WASH (Clean Water & Hygiene) program which is part of the Consortium's activities as well as other non-Consortium purchases such as boxes of A4 Paper for use in upcoming school examinations. The decision to return early to Dili was vindicated by the fact that it took us the whole of Thursday using our hired vehicle and driver to complete these purchases and to leave them with Judite Mar Martins, Rotary's Dili office manager, who kindly agreed to arrange transport of them to Baguia after our return to Melbourne on the 7th October. 


Due to Covid 19, this was the Consortium's first Team Visit for nearly 3 years and it was very pleasing to see how well Water Tanks and Toilets had been installed and constructed entirely by local villagers using skills imparted to them by previous Rotary Volunteers. 

Local communities and schools have willingly provided the labour required to complete the construction of Toilets and Water Tank Stands and our role has increasingly become that of a Facilitator, along with "hands-on" activities for any visiting Rotary volunteers who would like to participate in the construction activities.

As previously mentioned, the main purpose of this visit was to view some of the 20 Water Tank installations completed under Stages 1 and 2 as well as to see how far the Stage 3 construction of 3 Toilet Buildings had progressed.

The second purpose of the visit was to locate sites where more Water Tanks could be installed and where more Toilets could be built using local labour and materials. 

Because there is an enormous continuing need for Clean Water, Toilets and Hygiene Training in the area served by this Project it has been decided to drawn up a new Post Covid budget for the installation of 20 more Water Tanks and 10 new Toilets each with 3 cubicles. 

We therefore appeal to all Consortium Members and Supporters to renew their previous Pre-Covid donations with new Post-Covid donations for the 2022-23 financial year so that we can reach the above target and deliver 20 new Water Tanks, 10 Toilets and WASH Training to the very needy and appreciative people of this remote eastern region of Timor Leste.

Donations of any amount will be gratefully received and Individuals, Schools &/or Clubs are also welcome to sponsor:-

  • $3,000 Water Tank 
  • $5,500 Toilet
and to have their sponsorship recognised by a small plaque on the Tank or Toilet.
We hope that you will be able to continue your support of this most worthwhile project which generates considerable International Goodwill and Understanding. Rotary Team members would be delighted to come and present at your upcoming Club meetings on the Project and the recent trip.

If you have any questions or would contemplate participating in a "hands on" Toilet building project visit to Timor Leste around August/September 2023, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

With Kind Regards, 

John Walmsley 

Project Manager 


Vijay Susarla 

Deputy Project Manager