Mario de Jesus is a final year student Veterinarian from the Timor L’Este National University, Dili with a previous Agriculture Diploma. His home village is Ira-Onu in Los Palos at the eastern end of the island. He funds his studies by translating for the UN Police and Rotary and is also heavily involved in youth work for the church. He is researching chicken fertility and is earnest about improving life for his people with ideas for chicken farms and supermarkets for perishable local produce. He was nominated for RYLA by RC Dili, sponsored and hosted by RC Mission Beach the following week for a vocational tour of North Queensland. In transit Mario was hosted by the Darwin and Cairns Clubs.

 
 

While in Cairns he was shown the city and taken over Barron Falls on the Kuranda Skyway. He was delivered to Echo Adventure Camp near Tully with the Cairns contingent.  

Mario hugely enjoyed RYLA as the learning activities and adventure training had direct application to his youth activities. He talked about problem solving, the impromptu presentation and styles and was very keen on the team exercises. He was a bit older than the others; a willing contributor and very popular.

After RYLA, Mario was collected by host Club Mission Beach to spend five days around Mission Beach and Innisfail followed by two around Atherton and Mareeba using contacts from those Clubs.

He began with the highlights of Tully and Mission Beach: the Tully Clubs famous Gumboot the Information and Cassowary Centre, a trip to the reef generously donated by Calypso Dive and dog walking along the beach. He made vocational visits to Ted Davis’s banana packing shed; saw sugar, cattle and fruit farms and Barry Dun, Tully Sugar Mill Engineer showed him over the mill. In Innisfail he visited Yamagichi Happy Eggs and spent a whole day with the Innisfail Veterinary Clinic on diagnosis and surgery.  The vet had been raised in New Guinea so they had a great understanding. He did the Mamu Canopy Walk, where knew which species jungle fighters ate. At the Johnstone River Crocodile Park he held a baby croc and fed the roos, emus and dingoes.

On the social side he had dinner with the RC Mission Beach at Millers, the Clubs new meeting venue   and was guest speaker at a joint meeting of the two Clubs. He spoke passionately about his island country, its turbulent history, his family and village, his work at university, with UNPOL, Rotary and local youth.  Ira-Onu, means “watering place” – a coconut grove around a spring with no storage or reticulation, no power and no communications. It is dry, rocky, barren, well inland and a possible RAWCS project.

The following two days on the Tableland covered all the tourist spots: Crawford’s, Millaa Millaa Falls and Lookout, Curtain Fig (“we have in Timor”), Lakes Barrine and Eacham and the Crater. He had smoko with a lady raised in Indonesia who was interned during the war and showed him her memorabilia.  He made vocational visits to Atherton Rtn Frank Gallo’s dairy at milking time, Mark Whebels “tunnel” shed chicken farm out past Mutchilba. The farm has four sheds with computerised climate control, each for 22,000 birds. Two more sheds for 40,000 birds are being built with newer technology. At Baiada Chicken Factory in Mareeba, Operations Manager Steve Swenson gave Mario a Growers Handbook and tips on tracing the parent stock of the birds in his Uni research Project. These were donated by Australia and his only reliable source of eggs. At Tinaroo Dam he saw the irrigation layout and current work tying it to its foundations by post stressed cables for better extreme flood immunity. Rtn. Charlie Martens, Manager Sunwater, provided lunch and a tour of the Irrigation Area. Since tobacco the progress and diversity of this area has been outstanding, and it is reflected in the town.

After farewell drinks at Charlie and wife Connies mango patch Mario was left in the custody of the Cairns Clubs till his departure for Darwin Sunday and Dili Monday.

In conclusion the I wish to acknowledge the assistance of PDG Phil Dempster, Joe Stacey (Innisfail), Presidents Ru Carslake (Mission Beach), Kev Gray (Tully), Sherri Soncin (Mareeba) Stewart Grandcourt (Atherton) and Andrew Baker (Mission Beach)

Bill Souter