PROJECT NO 33/2014-15
Outreach to Oecusse District with H.E Xanana Gusmao  Timor-Leste
August 2020
On Tuesday 18 August 2020, our manager Dede da Costa and two members of our Centre (Paulo and Bento), caught the boat to Oecusse District with H.E Xanana Gusmao (Former President of East Timor) and his team. As our Patron, Xanana often frequents our Centre and was keen to help our staff with their outreach programs. Dede had a meeting with Xanana at his home prior to traveling to Oecusse . Xanana donated rice, food items, books and pens to go with our donations. The boat arrived at 5am on the Wednesday and Xanana’s bodyguards, police, media, military, Dede, Paulo and Bento loaded 15 boxes of Days for Girls sanitary kits, clothing, blankets, beanies and Xanana’s items onto trucks that Xanana had organized.
PROJECT NO 33/2014-15
Outreach to Oecusse District with H.E Xanana Gusmao  Timor-Leste August 2020
Xanana then rallied his media, local police, bodyguards and was filmed telling the story of how our Centre began. He talked of 2 female AFP women who decided to build a private Centre with the help of Rotary and how he was asked to be our Patron. He also told everyone that he had his second office at our Centre and he works there sometimes (we put a sign “Xanana’s office” on the front security box as we had an ongoing joke that if Xanana got free membership to our gym he had to do volunteer work as a security guard). He delights in sharing this story with people and on several occasions bringing them to the Centre to see his office!
Xanana continued to say that he had some items to take to Oecusse and knew our Centre did too, so he amalgamated the things to deliver together. He stated that his trip to Oecusse was not because of him but because of our Centre. Xanana spoke of how beautiful our Centre is, having a gym, an English school and sewing centre. He told everyone that you can attend the Centre, partake in an interview and if you pass you may obtain a free membership, as long as you help look after the Centre.
Bento, Dede and Paulo
Our manager Dede da Costa had told Xanana a few years ago that we have 4 rival gangs in our area and that they all use our gym. They have become friends and training mates and there has not been a gang murder or machete fight in our area since we opened in 2016. Xanana then relayed this story. Xanana and Dede then proceeded to 4 different orphanages and convent, along with an entourage of bodyguards, police, staff and media. The goods were gratefully received, especially as the District is in the far west of the island and often miss out on visitors and assistance.
                Dede da Costa handing items to the Director of the orphanage
 Sister explaining about our donations and the generosity of all involved
Dede presenting the nuns with items
I am so proud of all our staff and members with how they have run the Centre during COVID and although I am unable to travel at this stage, I am confident the Centre will continue to operate well. Our older members have been a great support to Atisi (Centre Assistant) and Dede (Centre Manager) during these times.
I would like to sincerely thank H.E Xanana Gusmao and his team for organizing our outreach to Oecusse District and the ongoing support that H.E always shows our Centre. I am pleased he is as proud of our Centre as we are.
Thank you to Dede and Atisi for organizing the logistics and Atisi for keeping the Centre open whilst the others were in Oecusse. Thanks to Paulo and Bento in assisting Dede and for all the donors that help our Centre – Days for Girls, Gabbie’s Angels and all the Rotary friends and the individuals who have donated and made products for the people of Timor-Leste. Even during Covid we have received many financial donations from Rotary clubs and individual members to keep our Centre open. We continue to raise funds both in Timor-Leste and Australia.
To everyone – thank you from the recipients in Oecusse, people of Timor-Leste and our members and staff. Stay healthy and safe.
Libby Bleakley
Rotary Club of Blackheath
District 9685 Australia
Sentru Formasaun Ba Juventude no Comunidade
Centre of Learning for Youth
& Community
RAWCS Project:33-2014-15