Our patient support team

Ana Saldanha

Patient support coordinator

Volunteer coordinator Ana Saldanha

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

I’ve always dedicated myself to community volunteering work. So back in 2011, a friend of mine had mentioned to me all about the wonderful work that East Timor Hearts Fund is doing to save lives of Timorese people suffering from untreated cardiac disease.

The patients that come to Melbourne don’t have any family or relatives; they also don’t speak English; the only way they can communicate is through the interpreter. So they face culture shock whilst here in Australia. As a Timorese, I know how important it is to have your loved ones and friends by your side when you are in these difficult circumstances.

It is a privilege to work with the ETHF as patient support coordinator. The role gives me the opportunity to help others in need and also to learn new skills. It simply gives me the great joys and privileges of my life to help others in need!

 

What does your role entail?

I manage the relationships with ETHF’s volunteers and ensure that patients and the support staff from Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili who come with them receive social support while they are in Australia.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

Outside my professional life, I delightfully enjoy time with my family and friends.

I am a keen explore of new places/towns and learn about their history and culture. I also enjoy photography, reading and watching good documentaries.

 

Su-Lin Kwa

Patient support volunteer

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

I had the privilege of spending a year in East Timor. I was a volunteer Organisational Development Adviser with a local NGO which worked with local communities within the district. I loved my time in Maliana and since my return to Australia have been looking for an opportunity to remain connected with East Timor and its people. Volunteering with ETHF enables me to make a small contribution to an organisation that's making a real difference. 

 

What does your role entail?

I'm responsible for administrative functions of the board activities. I also assist as a patient support volunteer, where I do things like hospital visits. It's great to get a chance to use my Tetun (though it's now somewhat rusty!)  

 

What do you do in your spare time?

Catching up with family and friends, travelling, exploring Melbourne and, most recently, preparing to tackle the Overland Track ... so lots of walking. 

 

Ligia Carvalho

Patient support volunteer

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

Volunteering for an organisation that I could support and have a connection with has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time. I became interested in East Timor Hearts Fund in 2014, after I attended fundraiser at Coburg RSL. I wanted to find out more and my sister-in-law Ana Saldanha, the patient support co-ordinator for ETHF, recommended that I look at the website to find out what ETHF was all about. After reading how and why ETHF came about I was amazed at the dedicated volunteers who are giving young East Timorese people a second chance in life. These patients could be Timor-Leste's future Prime Minister, President, heart surgeon, soccer player – the list is endless…. They can now achieve their goals. ETHF is an organisation that I wanted to be involved in. 

The greatest privilege of being a volunteer is when I see the patients recover from their heart procedure or surgery and return to Timor-Leste knowing that they have been given a second chance in life. Knowing that I was able to be a small part of such a dedicated team is most rewarding.

 

What does your role entail?

My role as a patient support volunteer is to provide social support to the patient; things like providing patients with home cooked meals and organising social activities. Most importantly helping the patient and their family member to feel as comfortable as they can be and reduce their fears and the culture shock during their time in Australia.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

Catching up with family and friends. I love to cook and try out new recipes, camping and going to festivals and markets.

 

Antoninho (Chico) dos Santos

Patient support volunteer

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

I left East Timor to live in Australia seven years ago and since then have been looking for ways that I can continue to support the people of my country.

A year ago my brother unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack at only 46 years old, leaving behind young children. The family couldn't afford to fly him overseas for treatment and the medical care available in East Timor couldn't keep him alive.

In seeking to understand the situation for those in East Timor with heart disease, I found out about East Timor Hearts Fund. Volunteering to support Timorese heart patients while they are in Australia for life-saving surgery is a fitting way to honour the memory of my brother and help to make sure that other Timorese people can lead a healthy and happy life with their families.

 

What does your role entail?

With other volunteers, I help out by making people feel more at home, with familiar meals, chatting away about home in Tetum and, perhaps most importantly, an understanding of just how overwhelmingly different everything in Australia can feel.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I play music, sing, do printmaking and dream up ways I can use music and art to teach young Timorese children about learning through play and understanding their indigenous culture.

 

Inacio Carvalho

Patient support volunteer

How did you become involved with ETHF?

I first became aware of East Timor Hearts Fund in 2010. After learning more about the amazing work that ETHF was doing in Timor-Leste I decided that I wanted to volunteer and contribute my spare time to this incredible charity that is making a big impact on Timorese people's lives. In 2014 I had a big open heart surgery. I can always share my experiences with the patients. I can relate to their stories when they tell me that they feel breathless, tired and have pain in the chest.

 

What does your role entail?

As a patient support volunteer my duties include things like welcoming the patients at the airport, cooking Timorese meals, hospital visits, shopping, sightseeing and interpreting etc. Basically I help make the patients feel at 'home' away from home.

 

What do you do on your spare time?

I like cooking, spending time with my family, watching soccer and listening to Timorese music.

Katie McKenzie

Patient support volunteer

How and why did you become involved in East Timor Hearts Fund?

I first became involved with Timor in 2009 and wanted to stay connected to projects that support the country. The fact that East Timor Hearts Fund is focused on delivering critical, practical, and specialised support to Timor made me to want to be part of the team. My own family experience with heart surgery also meant that East Timor Hearts Fund was an obvious organisation for me to support, and I joined the team in April 2013.

 

What does your role entail?

As patient support officer I work closely with the patient support coordinator to provide practical assistance to our patients, their families, our support workers and our patient support volunteers. This can include arranging travel and transport, taxis, hospital visits and post-surgery activities for our patients. It’s very satisfying to be a part of the big surge in energy that occurs each time we have a patient arrive for surgery.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

My spare time is mostly made up of gardening, vegan cooking, playing the piano and learning to surf!

 

 

'As a Timorese, I know how important it is to have your loved ones and friends by your side.' 

 

 ‘Volunteering enables me to make a small contribution to an organisation that's making a real difference.’

 

 

 

‘It’s very satisfying to be a part of the big surge in energy that occurs each time we have a patient arrive for surgery.’

 'They could be Timor-Leste's future Prime Minister, President, heart surgeon, soccer player …. They can now achieve their goals.’

'Volunteering to support Timorese heart patients while they are in Australia for life-saving surgery is a fitting way to honour the memory of my brother.’

'In 2014 I had a big open heart surgery. I can always share my experiences with the patients.'