Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sorting through Stuff


We have been getting a number of donations of materials lately from a number of different sources.  All this stuff needs to be stored and sorted and packed for delivery to a destination where it can be of most benefit.  Sometimes its time consuming, heavy and dirty work.  But sorting coloured pencils is fun.  Our house looks a bit more like a storage area sometimes with lots of stuff coming and going. 

Israel and seed

We have also been receiving seed prepared in Los Palos as part of a small business agricultural project.  The challenge is to find ways of marketing farmers produce so that they can derive an income.  This is connected with the silo project last year and part of the income from sales of seed is used to repay the cost of the silo.  It is hoped that we can then use that to buy another silo and continue the process.  Its about sustainable development rather than handouts.



Tobias has been a faithful worker.  Besides running the boat trade route he gains employment doing odd jobs that I come across and assists me in various ways on our projects.  Here he is learning some metal work modifying electrical fuse boxes to secure electrical components of weather stations.  Learning how to punch a hole in metal, control the speed and pressure of the drill and avoid snapping the drill bit is all a bit of a challenge.  You cant be too precious about tools in this country as they get a hammering from learning hands.


samuel and donations

Books, pencils, clothes, first aid kits and medical supplies being delivered.

Monday, October 15, 2012

War Games

Over the last week or so the US Navy has been doing some training with the Timorese Army.  This has meant a lot of helicopters and other strange machines such as massive hovercrafts and ferries etc.  All of these things somehow launch out of a big mother ship.  Very interesting for us and very strange for the Timorese (and bringing back some memories for them)

ferry This ferry is carrying vehicles which it can transfer to the beach.  Soldiers are sitting in the back truck fishing off the back of the ferry.

 hovercrafthovercraft small 

The hovercraft was very noisy and a strange looking beast – bit of a technological leap from the dugout canoes in the foreground.  Why are there such differences between two nations?


Big fancy US helicopters which can carry vehicles and other gear to deliver out the back.


All this stuff comes out of the mother ship – you can see one of the helicopters sitting on the back.

I’ll think again before I declare war on these guys – I guess thats partly what its about – showing off the toys!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Wash your Hands in a Developing Country


Washing your hands is one of those things that a person in a rich country is taught from an early age. Its usually pretty easy to do with clean water coming out of a tap and soap nearby. In a country without things like this it can be very difficult. Water may need to be carried for a long time, stored in dirty containers and often there is no soap. Even if water is available, it doesn’t come out of a tap. In Timor Leste, like most Asian countries, to wash your hands you usually have a dedicated scoop for the purpose. The rule here is to never dip your hands into the container storing the household water. Instead you need to scoop a little out with another container and tip it over your hands letting the water fall to the ground. So, if you can imagine it, you scoop the water with one hand and are left wondering how to wash the other hand on its own. You can make the hand wet, quickly put down the scoop and rub your hands or try to make some other fast manoeuvre to make the most of the water – usually somewhat inadequate. People are starting to invent ways of washing your hands in a world without taps and where water is scarce. What follows here is a simple description of a place to wash your hands set up at a little restaurant on a beach on the south coast of Timor Leste.

You take something like a sturdy 5L bottle. Here they use the bottle that cooking oil is commonly sold in. It has a handle at the top. A cordial bottle in Australia would perform a similar function.


Put a 3-4mm hole in the lid of the bottle. Thread in a sturdy, 3-4mm thin rope and tie a not in the end so it wont pull back out.

Put a 5mm hole below the lid about 8cm down and on the opposite side of the lid to where the handle of the bottle is.

Fill the bottle with water and set it up with a stick through the handle sitting up about 1.2m off the ground.

Tie another stick about 60cm long to the other end of the string coming from the lid of the bottle so that the stick rests on the ground at one end but the string holds the other end up off the ground about 15cm. You may need to adjust this to get it right.

Put the lid on the bottle. Now the thing is set up.IMGP0017

To wash your hands, gently place a foot on the stick to tip the bottle and a stream of water should come out of the 5mm hole in the bottle.

With a little practice you get good at it.

You’ll soon realise that now you’ve got a hands free system with your foot controlling water delivery and you don’t waste heaps of water spilling over your hands and lost to the ground.

Very cool and very cheap and easy to set up.

For people in fancy countries this would make a great kids activity at school or a fun thing to set up on a family holiday camp.