Balthasar Kehi has been a member of the Friends of Suai Steering Group since 2000. He returned to Australia from Europe and America in 1999. After receiving his education in East Timor Balthasar continued his studies and work in the United States and Europe. Balthasar was born in Fatumea where many in his family remain living today. Fatumea straddles West Timor and East Timor having been divided by Portugal and Holland after they colonised the island of Timor. He is currently teaching Philosophy at Melbourne University.
Patsy Thatcher began her involvement with East Timor in 1981 when she began researching the history of Australian servicemens’ experiences in East Timor in World War II. Patsy is an anthropologist and nurse with a profound knowledge of East Timor culture and its history. Patsy enjoys strong relationships with Timorese people in East Timor and Melbourne. Patsy inspired the interview with Timorese WW2 veteran and criado to Tom Nisbet, Snr. Rufino Correia pictured here with Patsy many years ago.
Ann Wigglesworth has worked in the NGO development sector for 25 years, including seven years in Mozambique. She first became involved in East Timor during the period 1997-1999 through her role as Senior Program Manager for Caritas Australia, developing friendships with Timorese that have endured until this day. Ann recently completed her doctoral thesis entitled ‘Becoming Citizens: Civil society activism and social change in Timor Leste’ at Victoria University. She has been a member of the Friends of Suai Community Steering Group since 2004 and has several times visited Suai to support the work of the Suai Community Centre and the Covalima Youth Centre.
John Collins John Collins first visited Timor leste in 2005 but had been interested in Timor’s fluctuating fortunes since he published James Dunn’s “Timor – A People Betrayed”- in 1982. He joined Friends of Suai in 2006 and went again to TL – this time to Suai – in 2008 in order to teach some English to schoolchildren and to advise those at the Suai Community Centre on communications including radio. He is a retired publisher and university lecturer, a former Deputy Chair of the Literature Board and a former Councillor in Tasmania.
Elizabeth Walpole visited East Timor as a tourist in 2005 and included a trip to Suai in her travels. She was very impressed by the people she met there and joined Friends of Suai when she returned to Melbourne . She has worked as a nurse, a librarian and a teacher. She taught English to overseas trained nurses at RMIT University and Melbourne University. She became a member of the Friends of Suai Committee in 2007 after she retired from her work at RMIT.
Liz Milsom, who is an artist and a resident of Port Melbourne brought several interesting connections into the Port Phillip community to the Friends of Suai when she joined it in 2007. The oldest is her father George Milsom’s service in the Australian Army in WW2 in East Timor. Liz is also a member of the VEGOUT Community Garden.
Desleigh Kent joined the Friends of Suai in 2006. Desleigh makes a contribution by recording and typing up the minutes of meetings and assisting with tais market stalls. Desleigh travelled to Suai in 2008 to familiarise herself with Suai, and to give English lessons to students keen to learn the language. In late 2008 with the assistance of Jenny Green, she initiated the English Language Program that was implemented in 2009. Desleigh is a professional nurse.
Rosemary Patterson is a Sister of Mercy and Mission Co-ordinator for the Carmelite Friars of Australia and Timor-Leste in Zumalai. Zumalai, a very remote rural and mountainous area of Cova Lima, is West of Suai near to the West Timor border. The Friends of Suai partnered the Carmelites in setting up solar power for several clinics in 2007 and later helped them to establish the Friends of Zumalai in Kiama in New South Wales who raise funds for projects in Zumalai.
Glenn Staunton began his involvement with the Friends of Suai in 2009 after retiring from full time work as a business psychologist in private practice. He managed the Australian aspects of the English Language Program that organised 5 volunteer teachers to spend 4 weeks in Timor-Leste in Suai improving the English language skills of Cova Lima’s secondary teachers of English.
Lee Kirk was the Co-ordinator Friends of Suai from 2001 to the end of 2003. Lee brought to the group a sound knowledge of Cova Lima, Tetun Terik and the Suai community. Lee worked for two years in Suai prior to and after the referendum in August 1999. It was under Lee’s leadership that Bill Armstrong became the Chairman of the Friends of Suai and the philosophical direction of the group moved towards international community development principles and practices that underpin its work today.
Lee worked closely with the documentary-maker, Friends of Suai Committee member and resident of Port Phillip Jen Hughes who has followed the friendship since it’s first meeting in December 1999. Photo shows Lee on right and Jen.