Tap of kindness

Liaholiho School in the village of Afalocai. (Provided)

Remote areas of Timor-Leste are getting improved access to clean water and working toilets thanks to a project managed by Rotary Club of Caroline Springs president Vijay Susarla.

The project is being delivered through Rotary International’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs, in which Rotary’s people of action mobilise resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change.

Since 2017, the Timor-Leste WASH project has delivered 62 water tanks and seven toilets.

Through late August and early September Mr Susarla with consortium member Justine Paragreen visited Timor-Leste on a scoping trip for the next stage of the WASH project to assess 12 potential sites for toilet blocks and water tanks in several villages, as the project expands from the Baucau District, into the Manatuto and Viqueque Districts.

In this next stage, the consortium is hoping to fund the installation of a further 20 5,500L water tanks and three toilet blocks – made up of three cubicles, with handwashing facilities and WASH training.

The team met with the chief of each village, members of the Ministry of Health and Timorese government, committees, religious leaders, teachers, and community members, as well as Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

Along the way, the team visited Manlala, where 42 of 124 houses which host an average of 20 residents were without toilets, and infection is common, as well as schools including Liaholiho School in the village of Afalocai which has no toilets, water or hand washing facilities for their 30 students.

Mr Susarla said his fifth trip to Timor-Leste was a a rewarding experience.

“It is a very tough place to travel around, moving 20kms can take three hours,” he said.

“It is a very hard area, but the reason we go back is because we are helping.

“People say they appreciate us being their to care for people in the remote areas…It is definitely rewarding, at the end of the day.”

Mr Susarla said he hopes construction will begin for the latest round of tanks and toilets by June next year.

-Liam McNally