Supporting Timorese children and families during COVID-19

A Community Collaboration

Michael Musgrave, a grateful patient of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and a loyal parishioner at St Canice in Rushcutters Bay, is also a passionate ambassador for the church’s sister parish of Railaco Jesuit Mission in Timor Leste.

Michael and the St Canice community support a meal program for Railaco children, a mobile clinic and a secondary school with 375 students and 24 teachers. However, when COVID-19 hit last year they became aware of the community’s struggle to secure resources to help educate and protect themselves from the virus.

During a discussion last year with Linda Newton from the Foundation, Michael mentioned this struggle. Coincidentally at this time, St Vincent’s Hospital had a number of masks which although initially approved at the time of purchase, were later deemed unsuitable for clinical use. The Foundation obtained these masks, and with the help of Hospital storeroom staff, and Rotary Melbourne for shipping and paperwork, the masks were sent to Railaco arriving at the end of May this year.

This was a wonderful community collaboration between St Vincent’s, Michael, St Canice and Rotary Melbourne. It’s another example of a Mission-based collaboration with our Timorese neighbours, which dates back to 2013 when the St Vincent’s Centre for Applied Medical Research, under A/Prof Phil Cunningham OAM, began checking for HIV in newborn babies in remote communities through dried blood spot testing. Using a pinprick sample of blood – collected in the field, dried on a card and transported to our laboratory – testing enabled many babies in Timor Leste to receive early treatment, resulting in better health outcomes for that community.

The Foundation thanks Michael and all who support the Mission of St Vincent’s Hospital in caring for the needy and vulnerable, whether here in our local community or with our Pacific neighbours.