I had a shoot for Bodhi and Ride yoga studio today. I quite liked this shot.
I first met Paolo in Dili, Timor Leste about a month ago while on a volunteer assignment for East Timor Hearts Fund (ETHF). At the young age of just thirteen, he sat quietly and appeared shy as we interviewed him about his imminent big trip to Australia for life changing heart surgery. My Tetum was (and still is) terrible. The interview conducted through our drivers well meaning, but poor English yielded short replies from Paolo led Ingrid (the media / comms wizard of ETHF who was interviewing Paolo) and I to feel a bit anxious. We both thought that the question had been misunderstood or the answer would be too short be adequate. Upon reviewing the footage, we realised his answers were quite considered. The young lad has described his love of soccer and how he wanted to study to be an engineer.
Thirteen is a grand age to be alive in Timor Leste. The first generation born after a brutal Indonesian occupation and exodus allows freedoms which previous generations haven’t been afforded. Each evening as the sun sets, the streets of Dili are punctuated by young men playing soccer. Universities and high schools are bustling places with young minds awaiting to be crafted into tomorrows innovators and leaders. Although the new nation is one of the poorest in the region, the future is looking increasingly bright. A heart condition like Paolo’s can really slam the breaks on these ambitions. Born with a condition which increases his heart rate to unfathomable speeds, Paolo was constantly exhausted and without treatment, would have most certainly perished. This is where East Timor Hearts Fund help.
ETHF through the coordination of Dili based Bairo Pite Clinic (legendary in their own right) flew Paolo and his lovely mother to Melbourne where Paolo received life changing keyhole surgery. Completing what in Australia would be considered a fairly standard day procedure, the surgeons at Barwon Health have ensured Paolo can complete his education and fulfil his dreams of building a better Timor. Playing a little soccer on the side can’t hurt either!
If you are keen to find out or donate to this worthy cause, please head to the East Timor Hearts Fund Page where you can find out more.