School Library Project

School Library project, Chai Village, Los Palos Region Timor Leste

Beginning with an open request for assistance from the Head of Primary School No.15 of Chai,
Ladeslau de Aguiar, in January 2018 the Rotary Club of Darwin (RCD) was approached by PDG Joanne Schilling to determine if we were interested in partnering with the Rotary Club of Darwin South (RCDS) to build and equip a small library for the school. RCDS had funds to fit out and equip the library but not for the construction phase. The initial design was for a 20sqm single room building with a construction estimate of $USD6000.

Having been involved in a number of projects in Timor Leste since the early 2000s, including in a similarly remote location; having sponsored the Rotary Club of Dili; and with continuing involvement in the creation of the Rotary Club of Dili Lafaek (RCDL) and the training of Rotarians and Rotaractors in-country, the Board of RCD determined to proceed subject to due diligence on the project and the establishment of a partnership with a local Rotary Club and appointment of a suitable Project Manager. We were also keen to ensure the building was of adequate size for future use.

Accordingly a coordination meeting was arranged in Dili for March 2018 to coincide with District training with PP Ray Fauntleroy and PP John Palamountain attending for RCD, Rtn Adilsonio Da Costa on behalf of the Chai community (having brought the proposal to RCDS initially), and with PE Bete Fatima and PP Herculano Amaral (Acku) all from RCDL.

As a result, Adilsonio agreed to take on the role of Project Manager (PM), RCDL agreed to act as in-country coordination and the building was increased in size with an additional computer room added and of course the budget was increased accordingly, now estimated at $USD10,000 for a 37.5sqm building plus costs for the PM. The RCD Board accepted the amended proposal at their April meeting and the project was launched, however given the nature of conducting projects in Timor Leste real work did not get underway until July/August.

Further challenges were imposed by the poor road infrastructure, Dili to Los Palos is approximately 240km and takes an average of 7 hours to travel, Los Palos to Chai is a further 15km but taking 1.5 hours! Then of course there was the wet season, making the road impassable, and the builders brick making machine breaking down (all bricks being made on site!) with parts having to come from Dili.

Notwithstanding the building was completed in mid-2019, with the official opening on 4 October 2019 attended by PP Ray Fauntleroy RCD, PDG Joanne and Percy Schilling RCDS, Rtn Adilsonio for RCDL and as is evident from the photos it is well received and appreciated by the staff and students, and more broadly by the whole community as it will be a resource for many.

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