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Transport for East Timor

Vehicles & Volunteers Needed
Small country, up and a bit to the left, needs help

The wet is about to start, and houses are in short supply. To rebuild, vehicles are needed. Much of what transport Timor had has been destroyed.

Drovers is a newly formed volunteer organization, two weeks old, set up to provide aid transport for people in crises such as this. We are calling for unpaid volunteers to work either in Australia or in East Timor, to help collect, transport, maintain and run a fleet of vehicles, to help in the rebuilding effort. If you are willing and able to assist, we would appreciate your help. We are not fussed about qualifications or experience, as long as you are willing to and can do the work. There is unpaid voluntary work for anyone who wants to help.

We particularly need mechanics (qualified or not), auto-electricians, tyre fitters, drivers, office people, kitchen people and competent organisers. There are no bosses here, only harassed fellow-workers. People are needed at our base near Samford, 45 km NW of Brisbane, to repair and service cars, trucks and bicycles before they are despatched, and in Darwin for further repairs and servicing where needed.

In Darwin we will hand the vehicles over for use by Timor Aid, who will ship them to Dili. Timor Aid is running the East Timor Mercy Ship, a 300 tonne barge, between Darwin and Dili. We will be setting up a base in Dili as soon as we can, so that Drovers vehicles can be serviced and maintained while in use.

Whatever your expertise, location and time availability, if you are prepared to volunteer your services we will be able to find you something useful to do. If you would like to do something real to help the Timorese people, this is one way to do it.

We need two volunteer mechanics to work in Darwin, asap. Food and accomodation will be provided by AFAP (Australian Foundation for the People of Asia and the Pacific). We will be setting up a base in Dili as soon as possible, which will also need mechanics and drivers. This will not be not a safe operation, and there will be no guarantees for personal safety, or for vehicles. If you are worried about insurance, this is not for you. We may not be able to get our vehicles back for a long time if at all. There is no pay, but if that can be arranged later it will be.

If you have a servicable but not neccessarily registerable vehicle, that you can afford to be without, please ring us. We particularly need 4x4's and 2 to 7 tonne flatbed trucks. Also 1.5 to 5 Kva generators, bicycles and wheelbarrows. Utes are needed, and cars, but the wet is about to start, and these may not be usable till it is over. Rust does not matter, nor doors or windows, but vehicles must be repairable to running order. Please, no write-offs as we cannot act as your waste disposal service. Vehicles do not need to be registered to pass into East Timor.

We also invite people to start and run independent Drover or similar groups in their own communities, call them what you like, and to help run the existing groups. Two, Samford and Mount Nebo, are operating.

Owner-drivers willing to go to Timor and drive there for the aid agencies and able to fully support themselves should contact us before setting out. Vehicles should be supplied with spares, tools and camping equipment such as swags and tents. Once there, food and fuel will be provided to the best of our ability. If willing to go to East Timor, take your passport, or documents sufficient to get one in Darwin.

Overseas Help: First, funds are needed. Much appreciated if you can help there. We have got this far on $980 of cash, and the kitty is as low as ever. Next, if you think you can get enough people to help collect and ship a container full of bikes, wheelbarrows, carts, vehicles, and such, please try. Also, anyone able to find or provide transport such as planes or shipping, please contact us.

[UPDATE, 7-10-99: Two vehicles, a 2 tonne tip truck and a small 4x4, and the first ten bicycles, have just reached Mount Isa, courtesy of Q-Link. They will be going from there to Darwin, courtesy of Finnemores Transport. Another 4x4 is in the railyard, waiting to go, thanks to the RACQ. A mechanic and an organizer are working at the Samford base camp, a vehicle is going around picking up donated bikes. The first school to pitch in, Hillcrest Christian College, on the Gold Coast, is collecting bikes. About fifteen people are doing things part-time.

The RACQ have offered to pick up 6 vehicles around Brisbane, for delivery to our base camp or to the Acacia Ridge railhead, and Q-Link (Queensland Rail) have offered free freight from there to Mt Isa for 10 vehicles. Finnemore's will bridge the gap to Darwin. Please note, folks, these are good outfits, support them in turn when you can.

SBS is considering seconding a volunteer to Timor Aid, to work for Drovers, on full pay for six months (see if your company will do the same, if you have a job, but wish to go).

A vintage Morris Z is also being sold in Samford for $3000 to raise funds, so if interested please contact by phone or email.

If you would like to and can help in any way at all, please phone either 07-3289 4470 (Samford Drovers), or 07-3289 8159 (Mount Nebo Drovers) or 08-8985 5529 (Timor Aid, Darwin).

If you have trouble getting through, please keep trying. Only one phone line till more funds available. Expect delays and disorganization. This is a crisis.

Contact Peter Ravenscroft. Phone (07) 3289 4470 or email

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