Thinking of Volunteering?
Things to know before you go…



Flight time:
Dili is only a 60 minute flight north of Darwin.

AirNorth is the carrier from Darwin but are very strict on baggage allowance (23kg). Please contact me (Mark Leedham) well before travel if you are planning on bringing heavy donations across. There may also be customs forms to fill in.

The volunteer trips are 3 days in duration- working in the clinic on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The best way to travel is to fly up to Darwin on the Tuesday and take the 6.30am flight to  Dili on the Wednesday. That way I can brief you on Tuesday and give you any supplies we need taken over. Return flights leave Dili at 8.05 on Saturday mornings which allows plenty of time to make domestic connections to your home city and hand over the laptop etc. 

Timor-Leste uses US dollars. You will need to have $30 USD in cash on arrival at the airport to buy your entry visa. We mark ourselves as tourists on the entry cards. Visa/credit card acceptance in the hotels and some restaurants but generally not reliable. Cash is king.

Taxis are cheap, $2 to $5, so take lots of small notes. Average wage is no more than $10-20 per day. Yellow cabs-agree price before you get in, Blue cabs are air conditioned and metered but a little more expensive. It can be difficult to catch cabs after dark.

Hotels, Food & Transport

Timor Plaza Hotel -30% discount on standard room rates for our visits but early booking online can work out cheaper. Contact me about the discount code. TPH is home to the Sky Garden Bar which is the place to be in Dili on a Friday with a local band, drinks, BBQ and a vista over Dili and to the Cristo Rei. My favourite is Hotel Esplanada, overlooking the ocean. 

During your visit you will be picked up from your hotel in the mornings and returned in the evenings by the clinic driver. Many of the hotels offer complimentary airport shuttle services.

Food is no problem is Timor, and there are lots of nice places to eat, but don’t drink the water. Even the locals don’t drink it! Lots of bottled water everywhere for $1 or $2.


Anti malarials are strongly recommended if travelling outside of Dili but may not be necessary in Dili. Mosquitoes are seen around the clinic so definitely take strong (DEET 40%) repellant. Click here to visit SmartTraveller for further advice.


The project will provide you with 2 scrub tops with the ABSO TL logo. Depending on the season it can be extremely humid and sticky in the clinic and there is no functioning air conditioning so pack light, breathable fabrics.  Timor Leste is a predominantly catholic country so modest attire is recommended. 


Dili is relatively safe but street lighting is poor and walking outside alone after dark carries risk. Cabs are difficult to get at night.

Some Helpful Phrases

Hello = Bondia             
Good afternoon =  Botarde
Good bye = Adeus
Please = Favór ida
Thank you = Obrigadu(a)
Open = Loki          
Close = Taka  
Bite = Tata


I recommend that you take a box of your favourite gloves and a strong headlight, as the power is not always reliable. There are safety glasses available. We are using TopsOrtho as our record system but if you are not familiar with it we will supply paper copies of the records and you can add notes for the patients and we will update the electronic records. We also have a Canon digital camera for photos and encourage all clinicians to take plenty. Just bring the card back for me to update the records. There is a Trios scanning system for study models-instructions are on the back of the scanner. When a patients is ready for deband, scan send it to me (I'm registered as a “lab” with the system), and I will make the retainer(s), so the next team can remove the braces and issue the retainers immediately.

When you come back please email me the supply list, and a short report, so we know what is going on!

Thanks to our sponsors for helping us out and thank you for volunteering.
—Mark Leedham