Subject: Students learn to rebuild Timor

Moorabbin / Moorabbin Glen Eira Leader (Australia)

November 26, 2003 Wednesday

Students learn to rebuild Timor

By Rachel Kleinman

THE sounds of scraping, sawing and chipping cut through the air as men bend studiously over their workbenches.

For many students at the Salesian Monks' Don Bosco training centre in Comoro, East Timor, this year is their first opportunity to pick up tools and learn a trade.

Some were otherwise occupied during the 1980s or '90s as Falintil guerillas, wielding guns and hiding in the mountains as they waged a battle for East Timor's independence.

When the Leader visited the centre just outside Dili, 150 students aged 17 to 45 had recently started 10-month courses in carpentry, welding or electrical trades.

And they will benefit from a successful tool-collecting program carried out in Melbourne this year.

Working Tools for Timor was co-ordinated by Freemasons Victoria and the Knights of the Southern Cross, the first time the two organisations have joined forces for a statewide project.

Rotary groups, Bunnings stores, Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority stations from all over Melbourne pitched in to collect tools for the cause.

Almost one million new and second-hand tools, worth about $1.2 million, were collected and cleaned up.

Rotary clubs in Melbourne's southern suburbs were inundated with donations during the Working Tools for Timor campaign.

The Rotary Club of Glen Eira and Elsternwick collected an estimated 200 near-new and well-loved tools as part of their efforts to help the people of East Timor.

Rotary Club of Glen Eira secretary Ian Marks said it was good to see unused tools getting a new lease of life and being sent to people who really needed them.

He said the Rotary Club of Glen Eira was also involved in the Friendship Schools Project.

Last month, three giant containers finally sat in the grounds of Don Bosco awaiting a handover ceremony after a struggle to get them through East Timor customs.

Centre co-ordinator Brother Adriano De Jesus said some tools would be passed to East Timor president Xanana Gusmao for distribution to mountain farmers in desperate need.

Some would be used by apprentices at the training centre and others would be sent to a technical school in Baucau.

He said the importance for these men of learning a skilled trade could not be underestimated.

"Many have never been to school and are illiterate," he said.

The official handover of Working Tools for Timor to Xanana Gusmao took place in Comoro last week.

Freemasons and Knights of the Southern Cross representatives visited East Timor for the handover.

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