Subject: Salesian Bulletin: Kiwanis Dairy Project

Salesian Bulletin March 2003

Salesian Missions Timor Leste: Kiwanis Dairy Project

The Australian Salesian Missions Office has played an important role in assisting the Salesians in Timor Leste (formerly East Timor) contribute to the rebuilding of their nation. Assistance has been in the form of:

• Cash;

• Goods (school furniture and classroom materials, relief goods such as bedding, clothes and cooking utensils);

• Education and training of East Timorese in Australia; and

• Involvement in the setting up income generating activities.

The establishment of a Dairy in Don Bosco Agricultural School, a project of Kiwanis Australia and supported by numerous groups including AusAID and Australian Volunteers International, has been a major achievement. It is an investment in excess of $500,000.

The following article is from Kiwanis, Magazine November/December 2002, published By Kiwanis International, Indianapolis, USA.

A Kiwanis Team for Timor Leste

"Got milk?" In the Fuiloro District of Timor Leste, they do. But getting it was no small task. The Kiwanis Club of Brighton, Victoria, Australia, and the Australia District led the charge, joined by New Zealand-South Pacific District Kiwanians and businesses, community groups, and government leaders.

Paging through recent history, you may recall that Timor Leste (formerly East Timor) citizens voted for independence from Indonesia in August 1999. Anti-independence militants countered with a violent rampage, killing civilians and destroying what little infrastructure there was. The United Nations stepped in to end fighting and stabilize the region.

Now, after centuries of Portuguese colonization, civil strife, and more than two decades of Indonesian rule, Timor Leste is on its way up.

Last May, Timor Leste officially became an independent nation, and the tenacious Timores are rebuilding their country. Virtually every component of a modern-day society is needed, including a proficient agricultural system. That's why Kiwanians supplied 30 heifers and two bulls for a fully operational dairy farm at Fuiloro, College, the only agricultural training facility operating in Timor Leste, and the only organization capable of providing basic training in dairy operation, a secure home for the herd, and the capacity to distribute milk to children. The college also supports 500 farming families in six villages by constructing water-supply systems, cultivating land, and establishing poultry and pig projects.

Brighton Kiwanians first learned of Timor Leste's dairy needs when Abel Guterres, East Timor's ambassador to Australia, spoke at their club meeting in July 2000. Abel, who since has joined the Brighton Kiwanis dub, pursued independence for Timor Leste for nearly a quarter-century.

"A simple challenge was put to us (by Abel)," says Australia District governor-elect Kevin Wood, coordinator of the dairy project. "Could we do something to help re-establish a school, or schools, in Timor Leste? And would it be stretching the friendship too much if we could get a few cows over there to provide some milk for the kids who walk two to three hours to attend those schools?"

Action was swift. The club adopted the cattle project in two weeks, and shortly after, cows specially bred for the tropics were purchased and delivered to Geelong Christian College, where a new Builders Club was organizing. The Builders jumped on board, helping the school's staff and farm managers raise the cows. From there, the project expanded to building an entire dairy operation, and it wasn't long until the cows were transported to Timor Leste. Along the way, there were many logistical details.

For hands-on help and financial support, Brighton Kiwanians; rounded up a winning combination of organizations and people. The Australia District approved the initiative as a district project in March 2001, with dozens of clubs providing funds. New Zealand Kiwanians also bankrolled a portion of the effort. Australian Volunteers International sponsored two experienced dairy farmers to set up the facility and prepare it for the cows. The Financial Planning Association of Australia donated funds, and a grant from AusAID covered freight and shipping costs for the cows and machinery.

Machinery? Indeed. The complete milking facility requires a refrigerated vat, a hot-water system, a diesel generator, a two-ton refrigerated truck, fencing, and stainless steel containers, to name just a few items. Delivering the cattle required a portable stockyard, a cattle loading ramp, trucks, and water transport. Private donors and organizations provided much of it, and the Australian Army helped unload the cattle after arrival in Timor Leste.

The result? Today, milk flows, and more than 200 Timor Leste children drink it daily. When the delivery truck arrives in villages, kids run from houses yelling "Susubeen!"- the Timorese word for milk.

And the AUD $500,000 project isn't over yet: twenty-two additional heads of cattle are slated for delivery next June, and a teacher training unit is in the works to complement 26 shipping containers of school equipment and supplies provided by the Salesian Network, another partner. In addition, Kiwanians are addressing the need for fishing nets and boats in seaside villages, where malnutrition is common.

"They have fish out in the ocean but no boats to go get them," Kevin says.

The ongoing commitment represents an intense effort to serve children, with a major emphasis on health and nutrition.

"Kiwanis has a vision to be the world's leading organization engaging youth and adult volunteers," Kevin says. "In keeping with the Kiwanis mission to serve the children of the world, this project develops food and nutrition programs for children and families."

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