History – East Timor Roofing Project – Manager Required
Initially, a number of people volunteered to go to East Timor as temporary managers, many going for short periods for building and training.
At the end of 2001, the group advertised through the ABC’s Australia All Over program for volunteers. This was done via our Tim Hewitt, with another Lilydale Rotarian, Robin Johnston, as they drove an eight tonne truck, fully loaded with vital equipment from Melbourne to Darwin, then from Dili to Baucau. It was Tim’s plea for assistance on the ABC radio program, ‘Macca’s Australia All Over’ that attracted Norm Bruce’s interest.
Norm Bruce was one of the people who volunteered and found the job so suitable that he stayed on and is still there in 2017 . Norm had previously worked on his own as a building contractor, and was sympathetic and empathetic to the East Timorese.
Norm’s job was to manage the mill and train the staff. He adapted the existing primitive accommodation for himself at the factory, slowly improving the conditions, so that he now has running water, sewerage and reasonable accommodation. It is clearly a job for love, not material gain, as he received a living allowance of about $1,000 a month from Australian Volunteers International (AVI), gradually increasing when the project became financially viable. Norm has developed a loyal workforce of about 20 full-time people, with 18 men working the mill, two women doing the books and casuals as needed. He and his workers have used well over 12,500 tonnes of steel to make roofing and associated products.
A full report on the history of the East Timor Roofing Project, covering our Club’s involvement can be viewed on the following link http://www.clubrunner.ca/Data/9810/4002/HTML/167303/TheEastTimorRoofingProjectCaseStudyFinal18052012.pdf.