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Bairo Pite Clinic

Timorese Medical Students

When East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, East Timorese medical students faced an uncertain future. They were away from families, now on a foreign soil and had to face the potential hostility from Indonesians. Financial support for their ongoing was in doubt. Those that returned to East Timor found a country destroyed by the anger of Indonesian troops and the militias. Some found a place to work at Bairo Pite Clinic alongside Dr Dan. Many still wanted to finish their degrees and with the assistance of BPC and generous others, some have been lucky enough to find places in overseas medical schools. It is hoped upon their return they will be the able to care for their country alongside other East Timorese doctors.

Julia
Julia

Like hundreds of other Timorese, Julia's medical studies in Indonesia were interrupted by the events surrounding East Timor's independence vote in 1999.

Thanks to the generosity of an Australian family, Julia is currently studying medicine at Queensland University of Technology. Read more of Julia's story here.

 
Edia

Unable to complete her medical studies because of the violence of 1999, Edia is now studying medicine in Dublin supported by the College of Surgeon's.

She now faces the problem of the cold, rain and the funny way the Irish speak!

 
Yudi

Yudi (Iudiana soares de Deus) works at Bairo Pite Clinic is looking forward to continuing her studies to be a doctor.


She is hoping that through Dr Dan a scholarship may open the way for her to complete her medical studies. Even study in Indonesia takes a lot of money.


Yudi began her medical studies in Denpasar at Udayana University. But in 1999 with parent concerned about her welfare and safety she returned home to Dili.


The Indonesian government had told Yudi that it was okay to complete her studies in Denpasar, however she had also heard that militia from East Timor had plans to murder any Timorese students choosing to stay in Indonesia.


Now Yudi works at Bairo Pite Clinic in the inpatient ward with tuberculosis patients, with obstetric patients and sometimes in the pharmacy and emergency clinic.

 

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Julia's Story

From: Inside QUT, Queensland University of Technology Newspaper (Issue 212 March - April 2001) by Margaret Lawson

At first glance, Julia Magno may seem just like any other shy, first-year medical science student. But there is one thing that sets her apart. Julia (as she likes to be known) is a survivor from the East Timor conflict – and the journey from her homeland to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a remarkable story of her courage and the generosity of a Brisbane family.


Three years ago, Julia was one of several hundred East Timorese students who were studying at Indonesia’s Hasanuddin University when their country’s independence vote sparked the deadly conflict with Indonesian forces.

"When it began, all the staff and professors decided they did not want to teach East Timorese students again," she reflected quietly. "It became dangerous to be there (in Indonesia) … I was lucky that some Indonesian friends kept me in their home, but I couldn’t go outside by myself."


It was 18 months before Julia could safely return to East Timor, only to find that her home was empty and her parents, three brothers and extended family had disappeared. With no idea what had become of her family amid the devastation, Julia waited for two anxious months for news. "The whole time I didn’t expect anything," she recalled. "I just prayed and hoped, hoped that I would meet them again one day. Then, one day, my mother phoned and said they were staying in a safe place in West Timor and would be home soon." Julia vividly remembers the day she spent waiting for her family at the dock, desperate to locate them amid all the repatriates. "I waited all day for when they would come. My mother and brothers came on the first boat, but my father wasn’t with them," she said. "I was very worried, wondering where he was, and then the INTERFET boat came and suddenly he was there. I was so happy, so relieved."


With her family back together, but with no immediate hope of continuing her studies – the university in East Timor had been destroyed – Julia said she spent her days volunteering at a local clinic to help the many sick and injured East Timorese. Tuberculosis, malaria and dengue fever were major problems at the clinic and, under the instruction of Australian Air Force Warrant Officer and medical technician Peter Hind, Julia said she learned a lot about diagnostics and medical science. Before Warrant Officer Hind returned to Australia, he offered to help Julia pursue her dream of a medical career, studying in Australia. "At first I didn’t think it was possible," Julia said. "But Peter said that I could stay with his family and he would help me get into university, and that is how it has worked out. "He and Starr (Peter’s wife) have given me money, accommodation, meals, transport and books for university. "I miss East Timor, but I am so happy and lucky to be here at the same time."


Officer Hind approached QUT for a place for Julia in the Bachelor of Medical Science – a course often used as a stepping stone to medicine – and QUT Dean of Science, Professor Graeme George, stepped in to help with a fee-free place in the course. "If you send aid to situations like East Timor, you can’t always be certain it will go where it’s really needed," Professor George said. "But if you send back a person then, hopefully, they will be an inspiration to others." It will take Julia about seven years to complete her studies.


"If I become a doctor I want to go back to East Timor to help people," she said, reflecting on the constant medical shortage in her homeland. "Even with the war, there are only 19 or 20 doctors in East Timor and, when they leave, there will be problems. I would like to help other students like me to come to study so we can all make a difference one day."
Julia said Australians could sponsor students from East Timor like the Hind family had done by calling Warrant Officer Peter Hind for more information on 0407 210 689 or (07) 5461 1174.

 

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Bairo Pite Clinic
PO BOX 259, DILI, TIMOR-LESTE
Tel: +670 3324118
Email: aletisoares@yahoo.com.au

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