Rotary Port Phillip in conjunction with representatives of Spend it Well, a local Timorese Government organisation, SABEH, and the Australian Government representative in Timor Leste coordinating the Australian Government response to COVID19, initiated a project to administer one dose of an anti-COVID vaccine to approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people over a two-week period. 

The team of 30 volunteers left Dili on Monday, 4th October; 22 of whom arrived at the Balibo Fort Hotel (a Rotary project) after midnight, having conducted medical check-ups at Batugarde during the day. The remainder of the volunteers travelled directly to several remote villages. The hotel kindly provided its conference centre as a vacation hub.

Along with vaccinations against COVID19, SABEH (Saúde Ba Ema Hotu) was able to conduct other medical treatments.  According to Dr Andre, Head of SABEH, the medical treatment SABEH conducted alongside the vaccinations was also very important. He stated that many people had preferred to live in pain rather than go to a health centre for treatment.  The visit also highlighted the need for a school health program due to many children suffering from malnutrition, tooth decay and vision problems.  As a result, many of those with dental problems were being connected to a dental clinic at the Balibo Community Learning Centre.

The accompanying photos show how Rotary members, partners, supporters and donors are “Making a Difference” and saving lives.


In the second week, the medical teams concentrated on communities on the Timor Leste/Indonesia border.


In eight remote villages in the municipality of Suai, more than 800 sick people benefited from the program.

In eight remote villages in the municipality of Suai, more than 800 unwell people in the community benefited from the program. One hundred percent of the leprosy patients in Suai were vaccinated.  The program time there was extended by a day due to the number of people wanting assistance. Whilst leprosy is mostly forgotten in Australia, it still exists, particularly in developing nations.

A detailed report with details on the numbers vaccinated, medical treatments given etc. will be provided to members.  Rotary Port Phillip has committed $5,500 to the project and Spend it Well $2,800.

The Next Challenge?

Now that the first vaccinations have been successfully administered, there is now a focus on raising funds for a second round of vaccinations.  Already $3,000 in donations has been raised but more funds are needed.

Rotary Port Phillip will approach potential sponsors. Members and friends can contribute to this worthy cause via tax deductible donations made to for Project Number 22, Year Registered 2014-15.