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The Camino Project

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Last updated: 6 June 2004


Aims of Camino Project

June 2004 Update

Letter from Shirley Williams (April 2004)

Letter from Diane West (September 2002)

The aim of the Camino Project is to send self-funded volunteer Natural Therapists from Australia to East Timor via the Bairo Pite Clinic to assist in provision of health care, and learn from the East Timorese people. Such disciplines of natural therapy include; 

  • Naturopathy

  • Herbalism

  • Acupuncture

  • Reflexology 

We know from experience that the Timorese respond very well to traditional practices as the women were the natural healers in the community in days gone by. Our vision is to once again empower these women to practice both preventative and therapeutic healing methods within their own family and communities by encouraging them to carry on the practices. This can be done by documenting practises, actively encouraging a dialogue with natural healers and facilitating education of others.


This is the vision of Dr. Dan Murphy and ourselves for a combined Orthodox and Preventative Medicine Clinic. We believe this will work extremely well and may well forge the way for other Third World country's to follow suite.

Diane West and Shirley Williams (from the group "Women in Healing Arts") are the organisers and co-ordinators of a pioneering Project they have called The Camino Project. Camino is a Spanish word for road or path and has been used for this project to represent the path to healing. 

Diane and Shirley have both worked with Dr. Murphy at Bairo Pite Clinic. Dr Murphy, who works in collaboration with traditional healers, agrees with our belief that traditional health practises can assist in answering the problems of healthcare for the poor in Timor.

Shirley Williams (left) with Diane West

On return to Australia, Diane wrote up an letter published in the Traditional Medicine Journal raising the idea of self-funded volunteers working with the East Timorese. The response was encouraging and so the dream grew. In 2004, the first of the volunteers will travel to Bairo Pite Clinic.  In the meantime fundraising for the Project remains the priority. The Project is totally dependant on Donations and Sponsorship from the public and natural health care practitioners. 

If you have any enquiries please email

Diane at diane.west@bairopiteclinic.org.tp

Shirley at Soulhealer_sw@yahoo.com.au

General enquires should be sent to camino-project@bairopiteclinic.org.tp

If you are interested in supporting the Camino Project you can help out in the following ways;

  • Volunteering your services as a qualified Traditional Medicine Practitioner.

  • Donating money for set up costs and equipment etc.

  • Sponsoring the Camino Project to help with on going running costs.


Australian Foundation for Peoples of Asia and the Pacific Limited

PO Box 12, 

Crows Nest NSW, 

Australia 1585. 


1800 007 308 (Toll Free).

email afsp@mpx.com.au


Christine Carberry

Financial Manager

02 9427 0958

02 9427 3222(fax)

0419 22 1672 (Mobile)

Donations by credit card can be made by calling the Australian Foundation for Peoples of Asia and the Pacific.

Click here to open a document that you can print off and send with you donation.   

All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible for Australian taxpayers.

It is important to mark your Donation; BAIRO PITE- TRADITIONAL MEDICINE, CAMINO PROJECT.

June 2004 Update

I first met Dr. Dan Murphy, director of the Bairo Pite Clinic, 4 years ago. I was visiting my husband, then the commanding officer of US Forces on East Timor, in July 2000. As the US mission was strictly humanitarian, my husband, Mike, was showing me locations of schools and medical clinics that were under reconstruction or already had received repairs to the building complexes destroyed by the retreating Indonesian army as they left East Timor. I wanted to see first hand what had happened to this country even though the country was not quite safe. The UN Peacekeepers and US mission support personnel still carried weapons wherever they went.

Bairo Pite Clinic had received repairs to their buildings, along with washing facilities, besides teams of visiting medical, surgical, eye specialists and dental teams that helped with the medical side of things. As Mike introduced me to Dr. Dan, the first words addressed to me by the good doctor were, “Do you have a medical background?” I told Dan that I was a Reiki Master Teacher (ancient Tibetan technique of healing). He said that he needed me if I could spare the time. Usually Western doctors are not aware of this alternative form of healing so I was prepared for Dan to present a blank look. On the contrary, he said that he needed me as the Timorese were very open to what I was as their ancient culture was deeply embedded in animism. My time on East Timor permitted me to volunteer mornings at the Bairo Pite Clinic and Kuluhun (at that time, it was a place for terminal Tuberculosis patients). I not only worked on in-patients but those whom Dan did not have the proper lab equipment for correct diagnosis, so he would send them to me. As Reiki works on four levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, we saw many healings take place in one form or another.

At that time, Dr. Dan had mentioned that he would like to eventually open a complex of buildings that housed sections for alternative forms of medicine, midwifery and a teaching facility. Time, the medical professionals and lots of money to make this all happen were somewhere in the future! I did not forget Dan’s comment. I saw great potential if one could get the right mix of people, knowledge and energy with everything falling into place as well as could happen in East Timor.

I returned a second time in September 2002. By then, my husband, Mike, had retired from the US Marine Corps and was working in Australia. We moved to Canberra. I met Diane West, another holistic therapist, from New South Wales. Diane, a Reflexologist and infant massage therapist, felt drawn to work in a third world country so I proposed that we volunteer at the Bairo Pite Clinic and see how it would work with the possibility of accomplishing part of Dan’s goal for an alternative modality clinic. We could only spend 5 days in East Timor as I was already scheduled to travel to San Diego for my annual teaching of Reiki workshops and giving treatments.

Due to unforseen circumstances, I had an emergency hysterectomy and Dianne had family commitments that delayed a return to the clinic. However, I returned to East Timor mid-March 2004 with the intent of teaching Reiki. It would be a first with Timorese giving Reiki treatments to other Timorese. There have been those who know Reiki but no one had proposed to teach this simple form of therapy. I spent a month between the Bairo Pite Clinic and Klibur Domin, the home operated by the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation in Tibar. If anything, the Reiki would be useful as a relaxation technique and a form of preventive medicine.

 The second night I was in Dili, Dan and I discussed how we felt Reiki would work at the clinic. All I knew was that Reiki would evolve, take a life of its own and that I would need to be flexible and adaptable with teachings and treatments. I have given over 800 treatments and taught numerous small workshops and not one has been the same. I have students in Vietnam, Okinawa, Japan (two of my students have opened the first Reiki Centre on that island), the United States, Australia, and now East Timor.

I discovered that teaching at Bairo Pite Clinic was frustrating at times due to Timorese culture, their sense of time (Timor time is different from the rest of the world’s concept of time) and commitment. My classes were ever-changing. The first week I started with 4 students on the first day. Three were on time with the 4th arriving 2 hours late. The next day I had two students (2 from the first day never reappeared at the clinic), one came down with malaria and the other student arrived several hours late. I was expected to start over again when the late student arrived. If I had been aware of the delay, I would have been able to continue Reiki treatments among the patients, however, so I would wait patiently. As I would consider taking my lunch somewhere, that was when the late student would arrive. I became accustomed to the concept of Timor time and would carry food in my backpack.

The second week was better with several new students, including a few staff members, two Australians and a male who had no job and spent his time gossiping with anyone who had the time. I had several translators to help me among the students. Again, there was the concept of Timor time and any serious intent among the Timorese to learn Reiki. I abbreviated the history and other aspects of Reiki to conform to the feasibility of sustaining Reiki as a viable alternative form of therapy.

As my students progressed each day, I had them practice on patients to see how the flow of energy would affect each person. This is when I ran into cultural differences. The two Timorese staff members, a nurse and the manager of Bairo Pite Clinic, refused to work on any patients unless they came from their village. Dan had mentioned earlier that Timorese staff are not interested in seeing a patient get well unless they are from the same village. It is the village that wants the patient to get well so they can become an integral part of their community again. To paraphrase a quote from Hillary Clinton ……it takes a village to heal a patient! The nurse outright refused to practice Reiki until one day, someone from her village in the TB section, was given a Reiki treatment by me. She quite happily worked on the patient. The manager of the clinic only wanted to practice on her family and that is why she took the class. I had great success teaching Ina and Isa Bradridge and June Flanagan (Isa and June are Australian and Ina is a former freedom fighter who fought along side Xanana Guzmao.) All three understood the value of Reiki and how it would relate to the Timorese.

Ina and Isa Bradridge have opened an orphanage in Gleno. They hope to do Reiki treatments in that village once the orphanage is working efficiently.

June Flanagan, a volunteer at the Bairo Pite Clinic gives Reiki treatments every day to the patients and those that overflow Dan’s reception room. While there, we have worked on such a variety of illnesses and diseases to include, leprosy, tuberculosis, cancer, malaria, gastro-enteritis, stroke, Black Magic, even a case of scleroderma, and more. We have also treated cases of depression as many Timorese have been sadly affected by years of Indonesian rule. There are virtually no social workers on East Timor who can deal with the patient caseload. The Reiki helped them feel better about themselves.

In comparison, I spent weekends at Klibur Domin, the Ryder-Cheshire home in Tibar, to teach Reiki to staff members there. Klibur Domin is different in that the staff and patients live on the same compound. The patients are not ill enough to be in hospital but might require physiotherapy or outpatient resources that can be accomplished at the home. Klibur Domin is, in fact, a small village of its own so it is beneficial that ‘the village’ heals the patient. The staff at Klibur Domin then returns the patients to their home villages once they are released from their care.

I received positive feedback from the staff. Patients asked the staff how they could do Reiki to themselves once they left Klibur Domin. They thoroughly enjoyed the treatments.

The Bairo Pite Clinic has a tremendous turnover of patients and with so few beds available in the cramped wards; the nursing staff do not have the luxury of focusing all one’s time on individual patients. Typical of a third world country, the family also accompanies the patient so one is not only working on one member but also the entire family. With Reiki, we attempt to give the patient the individual attention that they deserve with respect and dignity. Each day, patients looked forward to receiving treatments. We had no trouble getting patients into the Reiki room, as all looked forward to their time with the Reiki practitioners. If the Reiki room was occupied for immunizations for babies, we would treat patients in the wards. All present gave that individual their due by keeping quiet while each received a treatment in turn.

Is Reiki successful and sustainable? Yes! I am enthusiastic in promotion of Reiki as a complementary medicine to any other technique that might be taught to the Timorese. I fully intend to return to East Timor next year and teach new students and further the advancement of those I taught this year. With the first step taken towards Dr. Dan Murphy’s goal to initiate alternative forms of medicine in practice, this has been accomplished. With those who wish to empower Timorese to help other Timorese, the presence of others with like vision, will evolve over time.

Submitted by Shirley Williams, Reiki Master Teacher March/April 2004

Diane's letter published in the Traditional Medicine Journal 

In September 2002, Shirley Williams and I were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to volunteer our services in reflexology, infant massage, and Reiki to the people of Dili in East Timor at the Bairo Pite Clinic.

An American doctor, Dr Dan Murphy, has run the clinic for four years in a suburb of Dili. Dr Dan as he is fondly known, operates Bairo Pite Clinic with minimal equipment but still sees in excess of 300 patients per day.

The Dili experience has left an indelible mark on our memory and will remain in our hearts forever. These people from the poorer areas of Dili, surrounding villages and mountains cannot afford medical aid. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress, malnutrition, tuberculosis, respiratory conditions and emotional problems along with regular medical conditions. The clinic provides its service free to these people.

On our arrival at the Bairo Pite Clinic, I began reflexology on a 10-year old girl with a abscessed jaw. She lay in the fetal position by her mother's side and was very timid. In time she settled into the treatment and enjoyed it immensely. By the week's end she was playing with her friends again with no sign of an abscess. A hypotonic baby, who had previously been unable to support herself. There was no known reason why she could not support herself. After a reflexology treatment and a lot of prayers, the next day she was again able to sit up.

An older lady who had a stroke laid curled up in bed, very sad and not talking. After a week of reflexology, she was sitting in a wheelchair, with a big smile and looking very much better. He grandson massaged her feet at home as he had seen me do with coconut oil. Unfortunately she not regained her speech before I left. 

Shirley has success with Reiki on a 35-year old man who was suffering from post-traumatic stress. He had lost his sight, but by the end of the week was able to see colours once more. Many tuberculosis patients benefited from Shirley's touch. 

Many patients suffered from emotional causes and complimentary medicine was very success in treating this problem. 

As time past we gained the people’s trust. Mothers lined up to have their babies massaged and more importantly were keen to learn how do it themselves. Their keenness and gratitude I will never forget. On one occasion, there were fifty mothers with their babies crowded into one small room. It was “magical mayhem” but a beautiful example of the benefits of infant massage and bonding. Our stay was over before we knew it and it was home to the “lucky country”.

We promised Dr Dan that when we get back to Australia we could do our utmost to obtain much needed funds and denotations to help him with his work and to start of register of potential traditional healing volunteers. This is what we are attempting to do now. 

My suggestion to Dr Dan was a simple one. In order to alleviate the necessity of having the clinic to obtain large quantities of expensive drugs on a long-term basis which it cannot afford he would allow use to send from Australia complimentary medication.

Dr Dan is open to all forms of healing as he has been first-had the results what can be sone without drugs He was quick to welcome this suggestion and said he looking forward to the leaning and the experience. 

The clinic a grass root-level work. The clinic buildings themselves may not be what we are used back at home but the staff do a magnificent job at providing care for their patients even without access to many modern amenities that we would be able to use. 

We experience first hand how we can made a difference in the lives of these wonderful people. The East Timorese can still managed the biggest smiles even after being subjected to atrocities such as killings, rapes and destruction that we can only imagine. East Timor, although independent is desperately trying to rebuild itself. We believe that the people of East Timor respond very well to traditional methods and healing and in fact prefer it and it is through our visit that we have been inspired to continue to assist.

Letter from Shirley Williams 

April 2004

I have just returned from volunteering at the Bairo Pite Clinic where I was teaching Reiki, an ancient Tibetan technique of healing, to several Timorese and Australians. I also gave treatments every day in between the teachings. I taught several staff members but found, to my dismay, that they would only give treatments to those of their village and no one else.

This is my third time at the Bairo Pite Clinic since 2000. My husband was the commanding officer for US forces on Timor for 9 months from Jan-Sept 2000. This time I volunteered for almost a month. The Reiki will be sustained by an Australian whose husband works for East Timor Construction. She is volunteering 5 days a week at the clinic while her husband’s contract is active in the Dili area. 

There is an Australian volunteer, Marie Françoise who is wonderful and doing the best she can. Mrs. Celeste, the clinic administrator, relies on her assistance in many things. Marie Françoise is there for a few more months and then returns to Australia. She gave me a list of supplies that they desperately need at the clinic. I queried Dr. Beaumont this morning and she said to contact you.

The Clinic needs Doppler gel for ultrasound purposes, lancet needles and glass slides for malarial testing. 

Dan Murphy continues to be busy with patients.


Shirley Williams