Timor Leste engineers integrate seamlessly into Pacific Partnership
21 July 2015
Five trade qualified members from the Timor Leste military (FFDT-L) have joined forces with Australian engineers from 6 CSR, 17 Construction Squadron to build much-needed infrastructure for Pacific Partnership 2015.
Accompanied by Australian Regular Army Sergeant Dave Duckett, engineer advisor to the Defence Cooperation Program in Timor Leste, the carpenters, plumbers and electricians are working on school buildings in two locations in Arawa, Bougainville.
Sergeant Duckett said a close bond was evident between the engineers as their work on Bouganville got under way.
"The Timor Leste engineers have little to no English and the same can be said for the Tetum skills of the 6 CSR personnel," Sergeant Duckett said.
"They are all working well together. Their construction trades are a common ground and with a combination of broken English, bad Tetum and hand signals, we are getting on with the project effectively."
Pacific Partnership is an annual United States led humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted in a number of south-west Pacific and south-east Asian host nations. Military partners from the United States, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Fiji, Timor Leste and Singapore are providing medical and engineering support to communities which are in desperate need of assistance.
FFDT-L Sergeant Sandro Antonio De Jesus Gomes was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the Australian engineers on the projects in Bougainville.
"I am enjoying working with the Australians as it provides us with the chance to compare our trades and give us more experience as a group," he said.
In between battling large rocks as they dug foundations for a new building at Piruina School in the hills behind Arawa, the Timorese engineers have also enjoyed the local surroundings.
Sergeant Gomes said his countrymen could relate to the living conditions that the Bougainville people endured, having come from a similar background themselves.
"I will tell all my friends back in Timor Leste that I was very happy to help build the schools in Bougainville.
"Years ago the people of Papua New Guinea helped us out so it is very good to give something back to them."
"I’m pleased that the people of Bougainville can see our good work and that the nations of Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea can work together towards peace."