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DILI, Timor-Leste - Pacific Partnership 2016 arrived in Timor-Leste June 8 for the sixth time in the past eleven years and the first mission stop for hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).
While in Timor-Leste, Pacific Partnership personnel will work side-by-side with civilian leadership from the Dili community and Timor-Leste Defense Forces in a disaster relief symposium, civil engineering projects, cooperative health engagements (CHE), subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and community service projects.
Chief Information Technology Specialist Sean Beeler, assistant officer-in-charge for Timor-Leste, is looking forward to the first mission stop.
“I am very excited to see our team working with partner nation personnel to build relationships and gain knowledge in the medical field, along with the completion of the school projects, which will have a big impact on the children in Timor Leste,” said Beeler.
The medical engagements, conducted alongside local Timor-Leste medical professionals in Dili, Gleno Community and Camp Lenhoff, will include SMEEs and CHEs for surgery, dentistry, antenatal and postnatal care, women’s health, blood bank administration, biomedical repair, children’s health, nutrition, industrial hygiene, infection control and veterinary services.
“This is why I joined the Navy, to travel, to see the world, to experience new cultures,” said Lt. j.g. Danielle Delacruz, a pediatric nurse aboard Mercy who will be participating in subject matter expert exchanges in Timor-Leste. “Getting to work alongside the caregivers in Timor Leste and understanding how they work and being able to show them how we do things is such a great opportunity for growth, for them and for us.”
“This year’s mission will also focus on the involvement of women in disaster response efforts, applying the principles of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which addresses the role women play in conflict management and resolution, in a disaster relief context,” said Cmdr. Karen Ward, Royal New Zealand Navy, Pacific Partnership 2016 Women Peace and Security lead. Personnel will present considerations for women and children in disasters during a disaster response symposium, and meet with the U.N. Women representative in Timor-Leste to discuss the countries national action plan for UNSCR 1325.
“We will also advise on gender-related matters during the humanitarian assistance /disaster response symposium, and encourage the participation of women in all aspects of the disaster management cycle,” said Ward.
In addition to the humanitarian assistance/disaster response symposium, Pacific Partnership 2016 will host a chronic disease symposium, a basic first responder course, an advanced life support skills workshop and a nursing skills workshop.
Engineering projects include the renovation of Manleuana Primary School and Aimutin School, which also serve as a civilian shelter during a disaster.
“This is one of the reasons I signed up, to help people and make an impact,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Johnathon Dahman, a SeaBee assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1. “This is something you don’t have to even think twice about, I’m really looking forward to putting the school together and making an everlasting relationship with the people of Timor Leste.”
In the community, a nine-member component of the Pacific Fleet Band will perform at the Timor-Plaza Shopping Center, Christo Rei Park, Dili Futbol Stadium and the National University of East Timor.
“We have such a short time with these folks that we get to meet and oftentimes we don’t speak the same language. Music is transcendental in a way, insomuch as it is beyond language in terms of its ability to reach across cultural barriers and connect with people instantaneously,” said Musician 2nd Class Clifton Murray, a guitarist with the Pacific Fleet band and on his 3rd Pacific Partnership mission. “For me, and for a lot of us in the band, there is a joy in the ability to make that connection with somebody from a totally different cultural paradigm.”
After Timor-Leste, Pacific Partnership will conduct mission stops at the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Pacific Partnership 2016 is focused on enhancing relationships and multinational-interoperability through knowledge exchange and cooperative training, ensuring partner nations are prepared to collectively and effectively respond when disaster strikes.
Now in its 11th year, Pacific Partnership is a joint mission among several partner nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Republic of Korea and Japan, to improve disaster preparedness and regional responsiveness to any crisis.