Subject: Balibo 5 Brother Paul Stewart launches national campaign to help disabled East Timorese kids

Balibo 5 Brother Paul Stewart launches national campaign to help disabled East Timorese kids

Saturday, 15 August 2009, 13:40 (EST)

With the national release of the award winning film 'Balibo' (the story of five Australian journalists murdered in East Timor in 1975) Paul Stewart, brother of Balibo Five journalist Tony Stewart, launches a national appeal to help raise money for children with disabilities living in East Timor.

Paul Stewart who has been an active supporter of Timor-Leste for 25 years has turned his support toward helping hundreds of children with disabilities by raising vital funds to purchase essential equipment for a small group of Timorese Nuns working in the region.

"Raising a disabled child is tough enough in Australia, but in one of the world's newest and poorest nations, it's just a nightmare," said Paul Stewart.

Four Nuns of the ALMA Order ('Asossiasi Lembaga Misionaris Awam' meaning Association of Lay Missionaries for the poor and the disabled) are inspired by the work of Mother Teresa.

"In their inspiring work looking after disabled children of the former Portuguese colony, these four amazing women are fighting a constant battle against the odds to treat the number of disabled Timorese children who, in their society are described as 'the lowest of the low','' Stewart said.

"Until recently, physiotherapy was not available to these kids and so the Nuns have a good deal of work cut out for them," he said.

All fully qualified physiotherapists, in addition to providing free therapy the ALMA Nuns are also teaching parents basic physio techniques to enable them to continue to help their own children to improve movement and flexibility.

The ALMA Order Nuns travel around Dili on a single motor scooter, struggling to provide hundreds of children with disabilities with free, essential physiotherapy in the hope that they can improve mobility and the quality of life for these children and their parents.

However, because of their limited means of transport, the care the ALMA Nuns are able to offer and the number of children they can help, is limited. They desperately need a car to transport the children to and from their clinic; treat more children from a wider geographical area and offer more comprehensive care to help improve mobility for these children.

"What we have now is hundreds of disabled children, four nuns and one tiny motor scooter," said Paul Stewart.

"But with the help of the Australian people I know we can raise the money needed to purchase of a suitable vehicle as well as essential physiotherapy equipment to help the Nuns in their vital work in Dili, East Timor," Stewart said.

Unfortunately, the Sisters say they cannot keep up with the huge demand for their services. East Timorese Alma Nun Sister Justine said the order had only the use of one tiny motor scooter.

"If we had a four wheel car with a tray we could do a lot more work,'' said Sister Justine. "We could even get out into the countryside to visit the really disadvantaged disabled children. It would be a miracle if Australians could help us get a vehicle. Not brand new just one to help us with our work.'

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