About a year ago, our family was staying at a hotel on an island opposite Dili, for a weekend away with friends. As we waited for lunch one day i started chatting to another lady in the line. We discussed why we were in Timor, what we did and spoke for some time about the centre at Hera and my involvement there. She took my email address and began to talk about ways that she could help us.

Several months later, two boxes of goods arrived in Dili for us to use at Liman Hamutuk in Hera. As we’ve used the items, I have been trying to remember to take photos to show the enjoyment the students have had with the items. Have a look!

Through the web of connections that you make when you live in a place like this, we came in contact with a group called Timor Containers. They bring shipping containers full of goods from Australia to Timor-Leste for the use of charities and other not for profit organisations. Many of these items have been donated from schools in Australia. We were given several boxes of goods that we have been able to use in Hera and in our MAF care packages for patients who fly on our planes. Other goods we have passed on to organisations who are setting up preschools in remote areas of Timor-Leste where the children have no access to early childhood education. Jason and i travelled an hour and half out of Dili, straight up the mountain to a place called FatuMasi to deliver some of these goods to a preschool associated with our church in Dili.

Another donation, came to us a box of wooden trucks and cars, all handmade by a group in Australia. Each item was wrapped to be a Christmas gift for a Timorese child. Somewhere in Australia, people are making these precious toys and our students at Hera are loving them.

Because of the generosity of strangers and some of our friends here in Dili, we have set up a toy library with our students at Liman Hamutuk. This was a new idea for the families and initially many families resisted the idea of borrowing a toy, for fear it would get lost, damaged or broken. Other expats warned us that the items may not be returned, but we were willing to try. We explained, with lots of charades and acting, while some translated in Tetun, how the borrowing system worked, how you needed to care for the items, but emphasised that we understood that sometimes something would break or get lost. They just needed to tell us about it. Please don’t stop coming because of a toy. Friends with children have given us items as they left the country. Other organisations in Dili have passed on items that are not being used anymore. Six months in the students are loving having toys to borrow and play with at home. Yes the toys are getting beaten up and dirty, but that means they are being used! And with more donations, we can replace the items that are damaged or unusable.

Some of these donors we know, so we can pass on our thanks easily. Others, like the donors who put together the boxes which are shipped to Timor by Timor Containers or Rotary Australia, we may never know who they are. But we are so thankful for your generosity and the way your gifts are helping our friends in Timor-Leste learn and grow.

Thank you!