For the past five years Tatura’s Glenys Stockdale and Noreen Smith have worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes supporting the people of Dili in Timor Leste.
The pair said they became aware of a need to support the neonatal intensive care unit at Guido Valderes National Hospital in Dili after Glenys’ daughter Vanessa visited the country.
‘‘She was horrified by the conditions there,’’ Ms Smith said at a recent morning tea in Tatura where the women spoke to guests about the ongoing project.
‘‘She saw a need.’’
Vanessa had travelled with Rotarian Tony Favaro, now referred to as the women’s ‘‘main man in Dili’’ who the pair continue to liaise with.
And so Ms Stockdale and Ms Smith began sewing and knitting items for the premature babies housed in the hospital with the Country Women’s Authority also coming on board to support the pair.
‘‘They didn’t have any cot sheets or pillow cases,’’ Ms Smith said.
She said the mothers were required to bring these items if they wanted the luxury of clean linen.
Ms Smith and Ms Stockdale listed a seemingly endless amount of necessary items they had constructed during the years.
Among the many things the women and their helpers created were waterproof cot mattresses, carry cots, privacy curtains, dirty linen bags, four immunisation mats, theatre drapes and pinafores for newborns.
‘‘They usually send a list of stuff they need,’’ Ms Stockdale said.
After three years behind the sewing machine, the women said in 2015 they decided it was time to travel to Timor Leste and see the situation first-hand.
‘‘We took 70kg worth of luggage and not much of it was for us,’’ Ms Smith said.
Attending the morning tea as a guest, the pair heard from Mooroopna’s Tom Dumaresq who said he spent four years in Timor Leste working to help the community.
Mr Dumaresq stressed how important Ms Stockdale and Ms Smith’s contributions were.
‘‘I think (Australians) should do more in Timor,’’ Mr Dumaresq said.
‘‘They’re our closest neighbour and our poorest neighbour.’’
Mr Dumaresq said the population faced difficulty because of the fact there was largely no older generations to guide the younger ones and highlighted the poor treatment of women.
‘‘We’ve got to support these projects because women are being treated shockingly,’’ he said.
‘‘It does tear my heart up a bit and that’s why I’m here today.’’
Ms Stockdale and Ms Smith were pleased to announce they had recently been donated funds — by an anonymous benefactor — to purchase two slow-combustion stoves for an orphanage and agricultural college in Timor Leste.
The pair said they had also begun their latest project — making trauma dolls for the 10 to 14 people that were required to be evacuated to Dili via plane each month.
The women thanked all those who had helped them in any way with the Timor Leste Project and Ms Smith recommended that people attend the country.
‘‘It really is a little paradise, but when the Indonesians left, they wrecked everything,’’ she said.
Ms Smith also noted that the death rate of babies had continued to improve in the country.