Jan travelled to Timor Lestè in August 2013, with her son Mark. Their flight to Darwin, then Dili, was smooth and after a very short stay at the Hotel Timor, they settled very comfortably into the Beachside Hotel. (Which formed a superb base for their work in Dili and was a perfect place to meet people who were able to provide assistance and advice.)
The first few days in Dili were very busy for Jan and Mark.
Jan made contact with Daryl Mills (who is the contact for the container delivery in Dili) and was fortunate enough to meet his Finance Manager, Judite.
Judite grew up not far from Ailalec (so remarkably, she knows it well) and also attended St Francis of Assisi School. Thankfully, Judite understands the aims of AtTS, and is willing to act as a supporter and go-between to ensure operations run smoothly.
Jan was really disappointed to learn that the container, carrying most of the goods intended for Ailalec, had not arrived, and was most likely not going to until after they left Timor Lestè. (Fortunately Judite is willing to organize collection and distribution when it finally arrives.)
After several very challenging taxi journeys, Jan hired a 4WD, which Mark drove around Dili. They also went to the Dare War Museum, where Jan left photographs.
They took some gifts for Sister Domingas’ school. Jan told her of other goods intended for her school, which are yet to arrive on the container ship. The meeting with Sister Domingas was, as is usual, warm and very welcoming. She is very special, and working so hard to provide for the children in her care.
~ Her kindergarten has 218 students and the school, 4000, and their need is great.
After hiring a driver (translator) they set of to Ailalec and St Francis of Assisi, Wellaluhu.
The journey into Ailalec was uneventful, though still challenging. In the past few years, Jan has noted that the roads have improved, however a substantial 4WD is still required.
The villagers were aware of their arrival beforehand, nevertheless both Mark and Jan were surprised when a member of the Baretto family met them on the road well before Ailalec, to escort them into the village.
~ Their welcome was very warm and friendly.
This visit, Jan and Mark brought balloons for the children and Anzac biscuits for morning tea. The biscuits were given to the children, who were very appreciative. ~ There was such joy all round.
Jan had other gifts that she distributed, and explained that others were to arrive later on the container ship. Whilst their time in Ailalec was very full, she also spoke with members of the Ailalec Village Council, the Chief and the Ailalec Primary School Principal.
It was very emotional when Jan met an elderly villager who explained that she was a sister of Douglas (the orphaned creado who became the unofficial mascot to the 2/4thCommandos in East Timor, 1942/3). When Jan gave her a photo print (of Douglas in 1943), the elderly lady was overcome.
After leaving Ailalec, they journeyed to Wellaluhu, so they could visit St Francis of Assisi school. It was there that Jan was able to see where the children, selected for the Baretto/Nicolay’ award, would board and attend school.
Again it was a good opportunity for Jan to discuss the implementation of the Baretto/Nicolay Award.
All seemed to feel that it was best for children to attend the same school for all of their High School education, and Jan agreed that it would be best for the Baretto/Nicolay Award to begin at Year 7. Also a State sponsored examination of all Year 6s would assist with the selection of recipients.