Barry Scanlan with some of the workers he taught how to install the solar panels.
Barry Scanlan with some of the workers he taught how to install the solar panels.

Barry volunteers in Timor

HELPING someone else goes hand in hand with volunteering, and Rose City man Barry Scanlan went above and beyond recently.

Mr Scanlan was asked if he would volunteer with a program installing solar lights in East Timor, for which St Mary’s church had already donated $40,000.

“If I was lucky enough to be able to afford to go over there and help someone I wanted to give it a go,” Mr Scanlan said. “That is what I am here for.”

In early April he left with members of Inverell Rotary, who were also a part of the project, and arrived in Dili where they bought their supplies.

In two vehicles supplied by Brothers from the Edmond Rice Community they headed up the mountain to the village of Samalete. Mr Scanlan said the journey was only about 20 kilometres, but because of road conditions it took an hour to reach the destination.

“There was no water, power, sewerage; they have nothing really but they are happy,” Mr Scanlan said.

He worked with and taught young local men how to install two to three lights in each home by installing solar panels.

“These homes consisted of two separate buildings – one for sleeping and one for cooking and eating – with bamboo walls, thatched roofing and dirt floors,” Mr Scanlan said.

“These small dwellings house families of up to 15 people who have only mats to sleep on and a couple of pots and pans for cooking.”

He said it makes a huge difference for them to have lights as their homes are very dark even in the daylight hours.

“It was so rewarding to see their excitement. They have nothing, but are the most happy, generous people,” he said.

Mr Scanlan took rugby league balls and Brisbane Broncos posters for the children. Although they loved the new wall displays they couldn’t quiet understand how to pass the footy.

He stayed in Samalete, a “half-star” accommodation which had no running water, no electricity, bucket-of-water showers and hole-in-the-ground toilets.

He joked they weren’t alone though as there were plenty of rats, mice, mozzies and scorpions to keep them all company through the night.

The project has successfully contributed to the installation of lights in 800 homes and in Mr Scanlan’s week their team installed lights in 43 homes.

Although he was happy to be home and was glad to have a decent shower, if asked to go again he would save up and do it without a second thought.

“It’s rewarding to make their life just a little bit easier,” he said.



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