TUBERCULOSIS is nearly unheard of in Australia – in East Timor it is rife.
The smoking rate is high and education about health and diseases is poor. A group of Damascus College students will see the huge disparity between Ballarat and Ainaro, East Timor when they visit in coming months.
The school has established a long standing relationship with Santa Maria College. Damascus raises money throughout the year to donate to Timor Leste, the school and other areas.
On Friday the director of health facility Klibur Domin in Tibur visited students to share some of the most pressing health concerns facing the area. Kilbur Domin was established in 2000 by Ryder-Cheshire Australia and is a Timorese NGO providing inpatient care, TB treatment and community based rehabilitation for those with disabilities. Joaquin Soares was in Ballarat to attend the Ryder-Cheshire National Conference to discuss the centre’s plan and challenges.
“We are facing big challenges,” Mr Soares said.
“(The high rate of) smoking is causing a lot of diseases. There is Malaria which is a concern, and a lack of knowledge of different times of disease. (Lack of) education is a big challenge.”
Mr Soares answered students questions. He is looking forward to seeing them in Timor.
“I have been showing them the effects of disease and explaining what tuberculosis is and how it impacts people,” Mr Soares said.
Student Tom Robertson said he was looking forward to travelling to Timor.
“I an looking forward to experiencing difference cultures and seeing how others live,” Tom said.
Assistant principal for catholic school culture Tony Haintz said the program had been a unique and essential part of the school culture for a considerable time.
“In some ways it’s made us a new school … putting us in touch with our new neighbours,” Mr Haintz said.
“It helps develop the students and gives them an appreciation of how others live."
The program has been in place since 2005. Students and staff will travel to East Timor on June 16.
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