Opening Ceremony: Timor-Leste Scout Activity Centre

“This Centre stands as a testament to the commitment of Scouts Australia to support its near neighbours in developing Scouting for the benefit of their young people,” said Governor-General and Chief Scout of Australia, the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Sir Peter was commenting on the official opening of the Timor-Leste Scout Activities Centre in Metinaro, outside Dili. His Message was read at the special ceremony for the opening.

The Centre was a joint initiative by Scouts Australia and the ACT Government. Working in partnership, the required funds were raised to construct the multi-purpose facility.

“This Centre is the first of its kind in Timor-Leste”, Neville Tomkins, International Commissioner, Scouts Australia, said in addressing the 300 VIPs, leaders and youth at the opening on Friday 26 September 2014. “But it is far more than bricks and mortar – it is a symbol of growth of Scouting in Timor-Leste, and will be the emotional home of Scouting in this country for generations to come.”

“This has been Scouts Australia’s largest international project, to help build a better world,” Neville said. “We also hope this Centre will provide opportunities for Scouting to grow over the coming decades, and to contribute to the growth of this nation.”

The opening marked the end of 4 years of dedicated effort by Neville. He was the main driver behind the “Dollars for Dilli” campaign, which raised close to a quarter of a million dollars for projects in Timor-Leste. He also project-managed the construction working remotely.

Timor-Leste is Australia’s second nearest neighbour. It is the world’s newest nation, but one of its poorest. Over half of the population are under the age of 18, which presents significant challenges for Timor-Leste, but also enormous opportunities for Scouting.

The President of the National Parliament, His Excellency Mr Vicente Guterres, and Minister Mick Gentleman MLA, representing the people of Canberra, opened the Centre, noting that Dili and Canberra are Friendship Cities. Dr Chao, Chairman, Asia-Pacific Region of World Scouting, Reg Williams, Chief Commissioner, and David Jones, National Chairman, were on hand to witness the opening.

Venturer Service in Timor-Leste

Crystal Limcango and Partick Arellano, Capernaum Venturer Unit, Catholic Archdiocese Scout Group

Our mission was to volunteer our services to paint and landscape the newly constructed National Scout Activity Centre in Metinaro. At 7am, on Sunday the 29th of June 2014, we took on the voyage to accomplish our mission. There were many obstacles along the way, the smallest of unexpected events made the trip more worthwhile. On our arrival at Dili airport, we were welcomed with humidity and warmth. The airport was small, only because not many people travel in and out of Timor Leste.

Works at the Metinaro site

On Monday we travelled to Metinaro, up hills which had hidden villages and spontaneous holes in the ground. The site where we would be completing our service project was still a construction site and therefore deemed unsafe for us to use as our accommodation. This led to temporary homelessness until Duarte Amaral, Principal of the local school, came to our rescue by allowing us to stay at the school in two of the classrooms. School in Metinaro starts at 7am, with morning exercises at 5:30am every morning, 6 days a week. The school educated 500 students from kindergarten to primary with 10 classrooms. During our two stay at Metinaro we enjoyed the company of the many Cubs and Scouts.

We returned to Dili on Tuesday. In Dili we went to Torismo in Becora where we were warmly welcomed by a large number Scouts and Venturers. After our introductions, we played games and enjoyed an afternoon tea. We danced the Macarena, exchanged smiles and laughter. We also exchanged contact details, surprisingly Faceboook names as well.

On Wednesday, we visited the Nicolau Lobato School in Tasi Tolu. Although this school was only twenty minutes away from the previous school we attended, the scenery had changed so much. We again introduced ourselves and talked about our personal interests and our lives. We then were taken to a site of the 3 Lagoons. Yes, when we heard the word ‘Lagoon’ we thought ‘beautiful’ or ‘lovely’ but the lagoons were very special. We conducted a Scouts Own and prayed as one, after we had learnt the significance of these Lagoons and the historical context. During the Indonesian occupation people who were killed during that time were thrown into the Lagoon and their bodies were never recovered. It was a very emotional time for all. Every single one of us had tears in our eyes and our smiles were momentarily taken away by such sadness. It was extremely challenging to comprehend the history of lagoons. Filomena Reis, International Commissioner, then reminded us to not feel saddened but “Be strong” as the time is over and we must continue to keep fighting for freedom throughout the world. This visit was one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Thursday came and we visited the Rovers of the Emaus Group located at Gembel Art Community Centre in Bidau Licidere where we immersed ourselves in the Timor Leste art, learning the meanings behind art pieces. We gave them a drawing to show our gratitude for their hospitality and in return they gave us a colourful sculpture.

Next day, being Friday, we returned to Metinaro to paint the Activity Centre and with the assist of many of our Timorese Scouting brothers and sisters, we were able to successfully paint the interior and exterior of the building which was the aim of our service project.

This trip was a life changing experience in many ways. It challenged personal virtues such as patience, challenged the luxuries we take for granted as some of us experienced squat toilets for the first time. It strengthened faith, the value of using hand sanitiser, the worries of taking malaria pills every morning in fear that one mosquito bite could make us sick, even though in our environment this would have been the least of our worries. We learnt personally what not to take for granted and how privileged we are for the opportunities we are given in life. But most importantly, the establishment of lifelong friendships which is worth more than anything you could take away from the journey, and as the Timorese would say:

“we don’t have anything to offer you, only our friendship.”

Farewell photo with the scouts and leaders from Metinaro Group

Scouting Profile: Enrique Agustín León Langridge from Mexico

Each month, International News profiles a Scout from overseas:

Enrique Agustín León Langridge, Mexico

First Scout Promise: I began as cub-scout at group 86 in Mexico City in 1964 and made my first scout promise as a cub-scout in 1965. After that I went on through Scouting as a kid and as an adult, now I can say I still am.

Current Scout Role: I am a member of the “National Consulting Council” every former National President and every former National Scout Chief becomes a member after their administration comes to an end. I am the former National Chief Scout Executive of México 1999-2002.

In the real world: I work as a full time professor of ethics.

The Importance of Scouting: It is important because it is a great way of holding brotherhood among all humans in this world. 

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Most rewarding part of Scouting: To know that what we do is for the good of everybody. Youth and elderly as well.

Scouting reflection: When I was born, my parents were already scouts and I was presented as a baby with my first scout neckerchief or scout scarf. My father was a National Chief Scout and I was also a National Scout Chief 20 years after. My father was a rover scout, later I was also a rover scout and my son followed us. My wife is too and my daughter followed her as well. My daughter and my son are active in scouting, now it is them who may continue this family story.

On what Scouting in each country has to offer: Every country has the best to offer to their members no matter how it is seen from the outside. The good thing is that it is always planned to reach the culture and the particular needs of each place. Therefore even though it seems to be so extravagantly different, Lord Baden Powel’s dream is always reached. Youth’s education is enhanced through service to others and experiencing a outdoors life, always bearing in mind our principles and the great tool, “learn by doing”. In Mexico we still have a great deal of it.

Biggest Challenge facing Scouting today: We must never forget that once Scout you’re always Scout, therefore we are brothers and sisters of all Scouts and why not also of all humans existing on the planet. We must consider that.

Love to all without minding any kind of obstacle, (race, color, religion, nationality, social class, language, etc, etc.). The Scout law is a great way to start it. We should know it and LIVE IT to make it part of our actions. The biggest challenge is to spread such Scout law for the good of mankind.

Know someone with a story to tell? Get in contact!

Live it, Love it, Scout it: 100 Years of Scouting in Luxembourg

Caitlin Wood

It was a whirlwind trip of Luxembourg that started with a 6-hour train ride from Kandersteg for Alison and I. When we arrived at Luxembourg train station we were greeted by the amazing Djuna, she was in charge of looking after all the Internationals. Djuna explained that the campsite was on the other side of the country, but like everything in Luxembourg only 30 minutes away. At the site we dropped off our packs and then had a tour of the site. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know the other Rovers and exploring the site. After dinner on our first night we went to the giant circus tent that had been donated to the event, for a movie night. I had sweet popcorn for the second time in my life; Australia you are missing out.

The next morning we met up with the other Rovers and went into the city for a scavenger hunt. It was all planned out with small tasks to complete and images to help guide you’re way though the city. One of the tasks was to see which group could knit the longest scarf. As there was only one of us in each group that knew how to knit I spent most of the day knitting my way around Luxembourg City. There is a big mix of architecture in the city, one minute we were walking through Roman ruins and then around the corner we were in the business district with brand new glass buildings. Just beautiful!! The scavenger hunt was a great way to see the city in the small amount of time we had. After dinner that night we headed back to the city for a night activity. We were all split into smaller groups of about 6 people. The first task was to fish plastic ducks out of the water fountain. On the bottom was letters that made up the name of your first destination. At the next place you had to then find an envelope that had a clue to the next place and so on. Some of the envelopes had games or tasks in them also. The final destination was by far the most exciting. There was a lady who played an old upright piano, you could hear the music from the street and it just drew you in. It appeared there wasn’t a song that she didn’t know. As soon as she heard that there were Australians listening she was off playing When The Saints Go Marching In and Down Under.

Today was our service day. We had a bit of a different project than all the other groups: make a throne for the camp Chief to ride into the closing ceremony on. It was a bit difficult communicating within the group as there were people speaking Luxembourgish, German and a bit of English but we got it done in the end. In the afternoon we had free time to do some of the activities that were on the site; go for a swim, complete the parkour course and heaps more. I went and did the glow in the dark body painting and got a photo taken under a UV light. That evening was the Holy Saints Festival and we got covered in powdered paint. It was heaps of fun and very messy. Dinner tonight was a traditional Luxembourgian Dish. It was called Kniddelen, it is flour dumplings in a creamy sauce with bacon. Very tasty!! After dinner we got into our uniforms for the closing ceremony. It was strange only knowing 40% of what was going on, as not everyone spoke English but that is just part of the adventurer that is International travel. As tonight was our final night before we left, Alison and I shared some Australian Icons in the form of clip-on Koalas and Kangaroos, always very popular.

It was a fantastic trip of Luxembourg and I don’t think we would have been able to include so much in the time that we were there if we visited on our own. A Big B.R.A.V.O to everyone involved.

Live it, Love it, Scout it.

 

Scouting in the Community: UN Youth Rep and Australia-India Dialogue

It’s important that Scouts get out into the community, and use our connections and perspectives to engage with other organisations.

Scouts Australia would like to encourage its members to apply for two outstanding opportunities:

United Nations Youth Representative from Australia

Australia-India Youth Dialogue

While you would apply as an individual candidate, the Scouts Australia International Office is more than happy to assist – writing a reference, reviewing your written submission, or providing general advice on the opportunities.

Get in touch if you’re interested!

Contingent Leader Announcement: 73rd New Zealand Rover Moot

Belinda Layson, NSW, has been announced as the Contingent Leader to the 73rd New Zealand Rover Moot.

Named the She’ll Be Right Moot, the event will be held in Karamu, just out of Hamilton on the North Island of New Zealand from the 2nd – 6th April 2015.

Belinda has already commenced planning and is looking forward to taking a record number of Australian Rovers to New Zealand for the adventure!

More information is available from the Moot Website. For those interested in joining the Moot, or assisting Belinda with the planning, they can drop her an email.