In the month of October 2016 Vitál de Jesus from the ATLAS Woodwork Project, visited Australia for ATLAS Timor Time 2016 Luncheon, some woodwork training and promotional work for ATLAS. On arrival Vitál was pleased to catch up with old friends Sr Josephine Mitchell and Sr Susan Connelly who gave him his first opportunities to learn skills and get employment. The first Sunday was spent with a visit to the Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters. Vitál was surprised on arrival at the Three Sisters, as he had imagined we were going to a convent to visit three sisters. A wonderful day was had with Vitál and Sr Inacia (also visiting from Timor-Leste) sightseeing in this beautiful part of the world.
During Vitál’s stay in Sydney he visited a coffin manufacturer Key Industries at Wetherill Park where he met the staff and observed how coffins were manufactured in Australia, especially the painting of the coffins and the final touches made to them before going to funeral homes. Key industries paint the funeral crosses that Vitál manufactures in Timor, so he had the opportunity to ask questions and see how the process takes place. A special thank you to Craig Hale from Key industries who spent time with Vitál.
Vitál also travelled to the Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria at Rookwood, here he met with Mr Peter O`Meara CEO, Lauren Hardgrove Director of Client Services, Patricia Thomas Bereavement Support, Nancy Murdocca & Rosanna Kleckin from Client Support Services, who put on a morning tea for Vitál and Gerald Kenneally ATLAS Chairman.
The bereavement support team purchase holding crosses from Vitál via ATLAS for their work with the many families who have lost loved ones. Vitál shared his story of his woodwork business and how appreciative he was to the staff for purchasing his crosses which supports his education and training in Timor-Leste. Vitál presented the staff with the traditional Tais as a sign of gratitude.
Vitál also met Graham Johnson from Southern Cross Traders. Graham has shown a real interest in Vitál’s work over the years and was very humbled to meet him.
During Vitál’s visit an opportunity was taken by Chris Scharf ATLAS Woodwork Project and Gerald Kenneally ATLAS Chairman to have Luisa Marques (an Honorary Member of ATLAS) act as Tetun translator and discuss with Vitál the future direction of the Woodwork Project.
Vitál and Chris Scharf then spoke at the ATLAS Timor Time 2016 Luncheon about the need to assist Timor-Leste one of the poorest nations in the world. Vitál gave an emotional account of his life in a Timorese village, orphaned at 16 years of age and how funding from ATLAS for support and training has helped him, his wife and two children.
A day of leisure was had by some of the ATLAS committee who along with Vitál and Sister Inacia went for a boat ride down the Parramatta River to Sydney for a short walk to the Opera House and some other sites, then by ferry to Watsons Bay for a lovely lunch.
Like a true male one of Vitál’s trip highlights was a visit to Bunnings. It took nearly 6 hours to take in all that was available. Hardware shopping in Timor-Leste is somewhat less enjoyable, as it usually will involve visiting four to six different shops all over Dili to find the right, tools, hinges or screws that you’re looking for.
Vitál was very keen also to visit Taronga Zoo. He was amazed at seeing for the first time many animals that he had only previously seen on his small TV or in books, particularly the giraffes, elephants, and chimpanzees. Our own kangaroos and koalas also impressed and the size of the emu quite startled Vitál when he came face to face with one on a pathway.
The final event for Vitál was the Moorebank Fete, a fair of this proportion is rare in Timor-Leste and Vitál had never seen the show rides before. Vitál was totally immersed in the Trash and Treasure stall and loved looking for the bargains, which is very familiar to a market experience in his home city, Dili. At the fete he was able to help selling his crosses at the ATLAS stand.
Chris Scharf has been a great support for Vitál both during his time in Sydney and also in Timor-Leste.