Beacon 12th November 2015

Timor Leste

Last week’s talk on Timor Leste by John and Shirley Hayes-Cornish  was inspiring. I was totally shocked by the first slide which Shirley showed.  Timor Leste (East Timor), is the forth hungriest country in the world!  This was a total surprise to me – I knew the country was poor, but had no idea it was that bad.

They are one of our nearest neighbours, why is this appalling situation not more widely known?

Shirley went on to tell us how, when explaining health issues, its best to use clear unambiguous language – otherwise unexpected pregnancies can occur, despite using the banana as instructed!  I was especially moved to hear that some villages had to queue for hours waiting their turn to fill water bottles, having first walked tens of kilometres to get there.

I will ask John if he can give us more details about the water purifiers used – stay tuned for more info in a future issue.  In the meantime, here is a picture of a “Thirst Aid Station”.


Thirst Aid Station

A “Thirst Aid Station” is a bag‐based water filter that converts dirty, undrinkable water into pure, clean, safe drinking water. Dirty water is poured into the bag at the top and passes through a primary filter, removing dirt and particles before passing down the tube, where it then passes through a micro-fibre filter that removes dangerous bacteria and viruses. The Thirst Aid station is quick and foolproof, lightweight and packs almost flat, making it ideal for inclusion in a ShelterBox.

I’m looking forward to hearing Charmaine next week tell us about her recent experiences over there. Sounds like there are two countries – Dili, where basic services are available if in short supply, and the rest of the country where there are very few doctors, very few dentists, hardly any water infrastructure and so on.  We take all of this for granted here in Australia.

Rocket Stoves

One of the slides which Shirley showed us had a picture of bundles of (expensive) firewood for cooking.  Every year 4.3 million people die due to indoor air pollution from cooking and house heating, and moreover, harvesting the firewood very often destroys the local environment from the removal of trees.  But it was reassuring to hear that only the branches are harvested in Timor Leste, allowing the trees to re-grow.

It would be even better if they used efficient cooking stoves to cook on though – then they would spend a lot less time and money gathering the firewood.

I’ve been interested in efficient cooking stoves for a long time, after reading about rocket stoves ten years ago.   Rotarians should know about Rocket Stoves especially if they are involved in projects in countries where women die because of indoor air pollution.But despite being interested in rocket stoves for a long time,  I have never actually made one. Shirley’s talked inspired me !  So I built one the next day!  I even made a YouTube  video about it, here it is:


Online crime

Thanks Lynda for letting us know about ACORN.  Every year, thousands of Australians fall victim to online crime, or ‘cybercrime’.  Love-struck Australians continue to part with more than $20 million a year in online romance scams !

The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (the ACORN) is an online system where people can securely report cybercrime, and find advice on how to recognise and avoid it. This national policing initiative is an Australian-first, delivered by all Australian police agencies and the Australian Government working together to combat cybercrime.

Common types of cybercrime include:

  • Online scams or fraud
  • Issues with buying or selling goods online
  • Identity theft
  • Cyber bullying
  • Attacks on computer systems
  • Email spam and phishing
  • Illegal and prohibited content
  • Online child sexual abuse material.

Visit for more information or to submit a report.


This weeks free computer tip: Avoid publishing your personal information on the web.  For example, do not publish your birthday anywhere like Facebook!