Veteran's Care volunteers distribute kits 4 kids sponsored by the Rotary Club of Brisbane to students in Timor-Leste

A group of Australian veterans recently conducted an 11 day Veteran Health program distributing 2,000 Kits 4 Kids in remote rural areas of Timor Leste. The program also involved a range of physical activities involving daily walks, some cycling, stretching and discussions on a range of physical activity options suitable for veterans. It also included inputs on nutrition, nurture of the mind, the soul and relationships, as well as developing a future life purpose.

Kits 4 Kids is a collaboration between the Rotary Club of Townsville and the Veterans Care Association based in Brisbane. Old Army buddies Bruce Scott from Rotary in Townsville and Gary Stone from Veterans Care Association arranged for the participants in the Timor Awakening rehabilitation programme to pack and deliver, in person to each child, a small education kit . The kits themselves are organised by the Rotary Club of Townsville and the costs are covered by various sponsors. The Rotary Club of Brisbane is proud to be the sponsor of a delivery of 2000 kits in September 2018.
We will let Gary Stone from Veteran's Care tell the rest of the story:

A Veterans and Rotary activity in Timor-Leste.

 
A continuing aspect of the Timor Awakening program involves the distribution of Kits4Kits packs to rural schools. These small education kits consist of an exercise book, a pencil, rubber, ruler and a Ziploc plastic bag to carry them in and are purchased in Dili by Rotary with funds raised in Australia. Of course the children and teachers are delighted to receive these resources, but the engagement with school children has a therapeutic effect on our participating veterans as well. Program Director Michael Stone says "There is as much joy and smiles on the faces of our veterans as there is on the children."
 
Timor Awakening # 7 was in Timor from 8 to 19 September 2018. Once again distributing the educational kits to children in the schools was a joyful experience for our veterans and greatly received by the children as well.
The traditional packing of the kits activity was greatly enhanced by the enthusiastic efforts of a dozen Dili Rotoractors who joined the veterans thereby reducing the packing time by 50%. What  an amazing group of young people the Timorese Rotoractors are – their enthusiasm was infectious!
After packing 2,000 kits in Dili on 10 September, the team commenced their journey to remote parts of Timor Leste distributing kits as they encountered schools.
At the Dare School the group encountered some quizzical looks from the young students until they realised the 500 kits4kids packages were for them – it was then smiles all round with the veterans becoming a little emotional at the joyous responses.
 
Betano School resulted in a similar response when the team started handing out another 500 kits. Some of the students were dressed for a special occasions and warmly welcomed the veterans making a lasting impression and enhancing the veterans self esteem. Thank you Betano School.
The next call was Same where another 500 kits were distributed to the Junior High School.
The remaining 500 kits were distributed between the Bicou and Damlaren Schools at Atabae. On this occasion, after the students received their kits, the veterans were treated to a welcome ceremony which included a dance requiring them to join in. This was an experience few will forget.
This Timor Awakening activity was particularly special because Ian Hampel, a 95 year Commando veteran of 2/4 Independent Coy, who served in Timor and New Guinea in WW2, was one of the participants.
This was the seventh in a series of the Timor Awakening programs that have been conducted by the Veterans Care Association (VCA) led by DVA Men's Health Peer Education volunteer Chaplain Gary Stone.
The Timor Awakening program is much more than 11 days in Timor. It involves a three month preparation period and a six month follow up period where VCA Life Coach Michael Albrecht guides participants in implementing their Health and Wellbeing plans.
 
The Timor Awakening rehabilitation program was designed by 20 year Army veteran Major Michael Stone, who spent 96 months deployed in Timor over his military service. Responding to a series of crises over many years saw Michael himself diagnosed with PTSD and medically discharged from the ADF. The inadequacies of his treatment saw him and his a Father Gary - a 47 year Army and AFP veteran gather together a group of ex-service doctors, nurses, psychologists, chaplains and pastoral carers, to form the VCA and offer holistic health education to promote resilience and offer hope to veterans and families with complex health issues.
The 11 day Timorese Immersion utilises a diverse range of educative experiences - reflecting on the resilience of our WW2 forebears, hearing the inspiration of the Falintil guerrilla fighters in their battle for independence, formal educational inputs, small and large group discussions and reflection, community engagement, and the experience of the camaraderie of a group of veterans on mission together to see how they can improve their health and the health of others in the veteran community.
 
The Veterans Care Association continues to be amazed at how grateful the children are for receiving these basic gifts but also to have the contact with Australians who clearly show care for them. At the same time it was amazing to see the joy expressed by our veterans in being able to share the kits.
 
The Veterans Care Association is grateful to the members of Rotary for their commitment to funding and providing these kits. It is a wonderful way of showing the rural people of Timor, still living in poverty, that Australians still care for them. We acknowledge the support and financial contributions from the Rotary Clubsof Townsville (NQLD) and the Rotary Club of Brisbane (QLD). 
 
The next Timor Awakening activity will see a further 2,000 Kits 4 Kids distributed in February – March 2019.
 
Author: Gary Stone                                                                          Date: 14 Nov 2018
The Veterans Padre

Veterans Care Association Inc

Holistic Care for of Body Mind & Soul for Veterans, Families & Carers www.VeteransCare.com.au