Following are projects Whitefriars College has been involved with in Timor-Leste.

2003 • 2004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016


The staff included a return appearance of Peter Rennie accompanied by first timers Mr Michael Bohan, Mr Michael Calmer, Ms Lauren Cape, Ms Christine Haddrell and Ms Ali Rock. 

Students were Tom Arrowsmith, Mark Baker, Thomas Cantwell, Alex Haladjian, Mitch Inggall, Tom Kiraly, Lachlan Macaluso, Khoi Nguyen and Jack Schroder.

During the June – July break, Mrs Tracey Phelan joined Josh Vujcich teaching philosophy and theology to the Carmelite students in Hera. This was Tracey’s first trip to Timor-Leste.

Once again, the SRC financed a container to Timor-Leste. Once again, the response from the community was generous. This picture shows the Timorese, under the watchful eye of Father Bruce Clark, unloading the container. The goods from the container were shared, not only among the three Carmelite communities, and with many others. Nothing goes to waste in Timor-Leste.


The September trip included the return of Mr Peter Rennie and Brother Sean. Other staff members were Ms Lauren Mendes, Ms Punita Mistry and Ms Sandi Roget. 

Students were Christian Barrasso, Sam Cookes, Charles Dalziel, Tom Mercuri, Ben Roughsedge, Jarrod Sacco, Leyton Taylor, Mark Usatov and Daniel and Matthew Watkinson.

As in other trips, there was the English classes plus many adventures, which have created stories and memories.

In March 2015, Adam Given, class of 2010, spent three months working with the Carmelites in Timor-Leste. Most of his time was in Zumalai teaching English and working with the people there. He was able to visit with the Carmelites in both Hera and Fatuhada as well.

Adam’s trip was the first of what we hope will become an opportunity for many Old Boys spending time in Timor-Leste. 

During the June – July school break Fiona and Josh returned to Hera to work with the Carmelite students there.

In September, Whitefriars’ SRC sent its first container to Timor-Leste. Contents for the container came from many different people in our community. The truck carrying the container represented a new link between Whitefriars and Timor-Leste.


This year, we took a group of five staff members, including Kevin Lindorff, Peter Rennie, Roslyn Robinson, Jerry Freeman, and Sean Keefe along with nine Year 11 students. These are: Hayden Bowkett, Nick Bredhauer, Marcus Cantwell, Chris Dodds, Dec Gridley, John Laidlaw, Lachlan Mahon, James Reidy, and Ryan Young on the Timor-Leste trip. You can read some of their reflections on the trip posted around the room.

Besides the trip, we held three successful concerts to raise money for Timor-Leste. The first highlighted the talent of Steph Totino. The second feature John Abrahams and friends he invited to join him. The third included the talents of Heather Fletcher and Brenna Wee. There is a fourth concert coming up on 15 November, which will include former music captains and their friends.

The Walk for Timor-Leste this year generated over $33,000.00 to aid the people of Timor-Leste in educational opportunities. 

In June 2014, Josh Vujcich and Fiona Matthews returned to Timor-Leste to spend two weeks working with the Carmelite students in Hera. During this time, Josh worked with the students as he taught philosophy and theology.

Fiona used her technical skills to acquaint the students to better use of computers. She also helped establish a better system for the library so that the students could find information quicker. 

Another benefit of having Josh and Fiona around was that the students could practice their English skills.

In August 2014, John Finn travelled to Timor-Leste to help celebrate the ordination to priesthood of Angelino Dos Santos, O.Carm. This was John’s second trip to the country. 


In 2013, we expanded our trip to Timor-Leste to include five staff members, including Steph Totino, Josh Vujcich, Fiona Matthews, Jeremy Freeman, and Sean Keefe, plus six Year 11 students. These were Leigh Biggerstaff, Luke Murphy, Adam Thuys, Mat Wright, Michael Stringer, and Jackson Cairnduff.

We were also able to generate over $22,000.00 in a Walk for Timor-Leste which provides needed money for a variety of projects.


This picture shows three students from Whitefriars, Tim, Hayden, and Connor, sitting on a famous statue in Dili called Christo Rey, with some of the Carmelite students. You can find out more about the success of the student and staff trips by going to the Student and Staff Trips page on this website.

Besides the trip, Whitefriars continues to supply funds for the scholarship program.


2011 opened a new possibility for the relationship between Timor-Leste and Whitefriars. Father Paul Cahill, the principal at Whitefriars and pictured with the new truck purchased by Whitefriars, visited the country for the first time. He was exploring the possibility of having students from Whitefriars to go and work in the country. Father Paul’s trip has resulted in the introduction of having staff and students travelling to Timor and engaged in teaching English and computer skills to the Timorese people. The first trip was in 2012.


The original truck that Whitefriars helped purchase in 2003 was worn out, so we decided to purchase a new one. The truck is used to move rice, people, cattle, and as part of a scaffolding system for roof repairs. It would be hard to gauge how many tons of rocks, sand, and many other substances the two trucks have carried over the years. The trucks are almost always in use. They transport most of the supplies needed in Zumalai from Dili each week.

Another important project Whitefriars took on in 2010 was a special scholarship. Ana is a midwife in Zumalai. She works out of the clinic there and is an important medical person in her community. Ana is married and has a daughter and son. She asked Whitefriars if we would be willing to sponsor her so that she and her twelve year old daughter could move from Zumalai to Dili for two years so that Ana could receive a degree in medicine. The sacrifice she was making was leaving her six year old son and her husband in Zumalai while she was studying in Dili. Due to the poor condition of roads, the trip between Dili and Zumalai is about 8 to 10 hours one way. We were happy to help Ana with her request. She is now back in Zumalai and once again working in the clinic there.


By 2009, Whitefriars was involved with concerts, a walkathon, selling of tais and coffee, and had helped install solar power to Zumalai. It was time for a new challenge – water. In Zumalai, the water supple comes from a spring. The water from the spring provides drinking water for over 1,000 people. Oftentimes, the water supply is compromised by bacteria. The Carmelites decided to bring safe drinking water to Zumalai. Whitefriars joined in to the cause. The College purchased ten water tanks. The idea was to collect water in six of the tanks from rain off of roofs during the wet season, and pump the water up a hill so that it could be gravity feed back to the various areas needed. A purifier would be used for all drinking water. A second source of water, during the dry season, was a bore. This project has proven to remain a challenge due to lack of underground water to bore into. Even though the project has not been as successful as we hoped, the water tanks are being used to store water so that trips to the spring are not as often.

A more successful project that Whitefriars helped finance was adding three additional classrooms to the school in Zumalai. Once the school got qualified teachers, the school decided to expand to have the schooling to cover grades one through twelve. To make this possible, there needed to be new classrooms added. Whitefriars was happy to donate to this project and the school has proven to be beneficial to the whole Zumalai community.

Another project Whitefriars invested in was to help six girls who had gone off to another village and learned how to use sewing machines. When they returned to Zumalai, there was only one sewing machine around. Whitefriars was able to help them purchase two more machines. The girls were able to create a business for clothing repair. They also branched out and made custom made purses and handbags.


Zumalai had no government-supplied electricity. The only electricity was generated by a diesel-burning generator. The generator was turned on around 6 p.m. and went off at 10 p.m. Without full time electricity, refrigeration did not exist. This meant that meat was sitting in the heat of the day. The other problem was that the fumes from the generator were causing pollution. Whitefriars decided to install a solar electricity system in Zumalai. We raised over $30,000.00 for the project which allowed us to install two systems to cover the entire Carmelite compound, which includes a church, school, youth centre, boarding house, and other residences. The project involved much hands-on work. The children in the picture are helping dig a ditch, with their hands. Thanks in particular to Pete and Maree Gloag who help out.


Whitefriars had its first Benefit Concert for Timor-Leste. It proved to be another way to generate funds for the cause. It involved more volunteers getting involved. All of the performers donated their time and talents. Also, there was a silent auction which meant there were many people working in the background to make the night go smoothly. We generated about $5,000.00 on the night which was used for scholarships and other projects in Timor-Leste.

Besides the concert, selling tais, the walkathon, we started selling East Timor coffee. The mountain area of Timor-Leste is conducive for the coffee trees. Since Timor is limited to its exporting enterprises, Australian businesses work with Timor to produce products. The Carmelites decided to help by selling the coffee via our parishes and other outlets. Whitefriars became one of those outlets.

The one very positive side to the coffee and tais selling is that it generated jobs for people in Timor-Leste. Another positive of generating money from many sources meant that Whitefriars could venture in new projects.


Whitefriars stayed involved with the scholarship program, but we branched out into selling tais, which are woven materials the Timorese use for clothing and as gifts to welcome visitors. The women who hand weave the tais in Zumalai have no market for them outside of their isolated area. Whitefriars starting buying tais in Zumalai and then selling them at the College. In this way, we helped create a business that did not exist before we got involved. The money earned in Zumalai went to help supplicant the family’s income. A side effect was that younger people started taking an interest in making tais.


Besides scholarships, part of the $20,000.00 from the Walk for Timor-Leste went to hire teachers. Since the school system in Zumalai only went to Year 10, the teachers only had a Year 10 education themselves. Since they were not accredited teachers, they could not receive a government salary, so they volunteered their time in the classroom. Often, they could find a paying job, so they would abandon the students on those days. Whitefriars ‘hired’ four teachers. We paid each $30.00 a month, but they only got paid if they showed for classes. In this way, The College was able to keep four classes of students in school for the year. The College then paid so that each of the four teachers could get the proper accreditation. Now, all four are receiving a government salary.


The $13,200.00 raised this year was used to help with a scholarship program in Zumalai. Nando pictured here is an example of why education is important in Timor-Leste. Nando is a bright student, but his mother died when he was young and his dad left to find work in Indonesia and never returned. Nando was taken in by the Carmelites and was provided room, board, and an education. Today, Nando is attending university.

In 2004, the highest education one could receive in Zumalai was grade 10. Most students did not receive more than a year 8 education because they were needed to work at home and education was too expensive for many families. If you look at the Scholarship page, you will see that today we have students on scholarships ranging from primary through masters programs as well as trade skills.


Whitefriars had its first Walk for Timor-Leste and raised $11,000.00. This money was used to purchase a used dump truck.

This truck made a huge difference for the people of Zumalai, a village in the south western part of Timor-Leste. Zumalai is about 130 k from Dili the capital, but the trip between Zumalai and Dili is about 8 hours one way due to the conditions of roads. The truck allowed for needed supplies (and people) shipped between Dili and Zumalai. It was used on a daily basis to aid the needs of the whole community.