Nine New Zealand Defence Force personnel took part in a number of community engagements during a recent two-week humanitarian visit to Timor-Leste as part of the annual Pacific Partnership.
Caption: Army Corporal Anatoliy Derepa, a dental assistant, helped deliver oral hygiene classes to around 2,000 primary and secondary school students in Gleno village in Timor-Leste as part of the annual Pacific Partnership. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Cousins
Wing Commander (WGCDR) Michelle White, Senior National Officer of the NZDF contingent and Chief of Staff of this year’s Pacific Partnership mission, said members of the New Zealand contingent worked with counterparts from partner-nations, Timor-Leste’s government, military and civilian agencies, and non-governmental organisations to conduct community health exchanges and medical conferences.
“In addition to helping provide direct medical care ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with local providers, our NZDF members also shared their knowledge and skills on preventative medicine, oral health, nursing, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief planning, including a focus on gender considerations in disasters,” WGCDR White said.
Corporal (CPL) Alex Taylor, a senior medic from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, took part in community health engagements in Gleno village, which is 30 kilometres to the southwest of the capital Dili.
“Gleno was a great place to work; there was always an abundance of locals seeking health care. I helped the doctors in assessing patients, and assisted in delivering the Basic First Responders Course for members of the Timorese Army and local firefighters,” she said.
Army CPL Anatoliy Derepa, a dental assistant, helped deliver oral hygiene classes to around 2,000 primary and secondary school students in the village.
“We provided all the children with oral hygiene kits, and taught them how to take care of their teeth. I really enjoyed dealing with the local children and enjoyed my time in Timor-Leste,” CPL Derepa said.
With counterparts from the US, Australia, and Singapore, Army Lance Corporal Leeann Leadbetter, an environment health technician, delivered presentations on preventative medicine including food safety, personal hygiene, and pest control. Army nurse Lieutenant Gemma MacPherson spent some time working in the emergency department of the National Hospital in Dili and mentored Timorese nurses.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The NZDF contingent joined over 900 military and civilian personnel from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the US on board USNS Mercy.
Mission stops to Timor-Leste, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are scheduled in this year’s Pacific Partnership. Japan will also lead a mission to Palau.
Natural disasters and man-made incidents continue to threaten the security, stability, and prosperity of all nations and remain a constant concern throughout the region. The annual Pacific Partnership mission provides opportunities for engagements and knowledge exchange to better prepare and respond to these disasters.