East Timor Hearts Fund’s volunteers, staff and partners came together online on December 2nd, for our annual Volunteer and Supporter Appreciation event. Hosted by our CEO David Marlow, the Supporter event was a great opportunity for us to thank our community of volunteers and supporters for their commitment over a very challenging 2020. The event was also a celebration of our organisation’s triumphs while navigating our way through a time of unparalleled change this past year.

Attendees were formally welcomed to the event by David Marlow, our co-founder and retiring Board Chair Ingrid Svendsen and Board Chair-Elect David Lloyd.

A highlight of this year’s event was the introduction our inaugural Volunteers and Partner of the Year Awards. David Marlow acknowledged that volunteers and partners are the back-bone of our organisation.

“East Timor Hearts Fund is launching these inaugural awards to recognise the outstanding contribution of our volunteers and partners, without whom we could not deliver the results that we do for the people of Timor-Leste.  The awards are also aimed at recognising our volunteers who reflect the values of ETHF: Respect, Compassion, Integrity, Optimism and Collaboration.  These values are vitally important to how we operate, work with each other and our stakeholders and patients.”

We congratulate the following recipients of this year’s awards.

Dr Dan Murphy Clinical Volunteer of the Year – Dr Ari Horton

As the founder and ‘heart’ of Bairo Pite Clinic, the late Dr Dan Murphy provided free healthcare services to the disadvantaged of Timor-Leste. His advocacy for young Timorese desperately needing life-saving heart surgery helped fuel the creation of our organisation, along with our co-founder Dr Noel Bayley.  During the event, Ingrid Svendsen read out a touching tribute message from Dr Murphy’s sister Maureen, highlighting just some of his many inspirational accomplishments during his incredible life:

“Daniel John Murphy was a man of passion and justice. He was morally offended by the fact that people in many parts of the world could die with no access to health care just because of where they were born or the color of their skin.

Dan was the runner up in the annual “The One” Rotary award, a worldwide competition for humanitarian work.  He was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine as well as the Sergio Vieira de Mello Award for his work in Timor Leste.  In 2009 he was presented the Medal of Merit, the country’s highest honor by former President and Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.

As his sister, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I’m sure most of you know he could be extremely stubborn. But for the most part he put that stubbornness to use in fighting for the common good. He brought me so much laughter, tears, and challenges. He will be remembered in my heart forever. Thank you for honoring him by naming this award in his honor.”

Like Dr Murphy, Dr Ari Horton’s professionalism, expertise and tireless advocacy for the youngest and most vulnerable heart patients in our region has immeasurably improved the lives of many. From participating in the Clinical Governance Committee, developing a paediatric cardiology scholarship, providing expertise to RHD guideline development, or planning a PDA surgical trip and screening clinic, Dr Horton embodies the drive to make transformative change for some of our most marginalised in the world.

Richard Vallance Volunteer of the Year – James Dickie

Richard Vallance was an extremely generous and kind supporter of our work, who was inspired by our volunteer-driven organisation. His selfless generosity provided us with security to continue with our mission to save more young lives.

Like Richard, James Dickie’s professionalism, expertise and selfless ‘can do’ attitude helped our organisation on many fronts. From being a driving force on the Membership Working Group, to working through complex constitutional and policy changes or enabling us to deliver vital PPE to frontline healthcare workers in Timor-Leste, James’ willingness to go over-and-above is greatly appreciated.

Optimism and Collaboration Volunteer – Belinda Macdonald

As an organisation, we embrace Optimism and Collaboration, as we set big goals and find efficient and effective ways to work together to improve the lives of young heart patients in Timor-Leste.

Belinda Macdonald’s talented and tireless contribution to the organisation across many forums epitomises the essence of these core values. Belinda has actively contributed to the Board, helped navigate through a complex membership review and constitutional change, advised on stakeholder engagement pieces and graciously agreed to take on the role of Chair of the Development Committee in 2021. Her insightful questions, ability to synthesize processes and willingness to assist the organisation deliver on its Mission are greatly appreciated.

Respect, Compassion and Integrity Volunteer – Dr Virag Kushwaha

Respect, Compassion and Integrity are important values of East Timor Hearts Fund.  Upholding these values every day is critical to how we work and what our supporters, partners and most importantly, our patients, deserve.

Dr Virag Kushwaha has consistently demonstrated our values through his participation in our cardiac screening clinics, including our recent online format. Dr Kushwaha’s exceptional perseverance in March this year, supporting our patients to get urgent life-saving surgery before our national borders were closed due to COVID-19, directly saved their lives.  His  tenacity and professionalism to put patients first with respect, compassion and integrity at all times is greatly appreciated.

Partner of the Year – RHD Team, Maluk Timor

Quality partnerships are at the core of our organisation’s mission. We work in collaboration with like-minded expert organisations that are passionate about improving the outcomes of some of the world’s most vulnerable cardiac patients living in Timor-Leste.

We have always appreciated working with the energetic, passionate and professional people at Maluk Timor. However, this year, as the world grappled with unparalleled change due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Maluk Timor’s RHD team stood out for its exceptional ability to ‘get the job done’. The RHD Team has navigated constant changes to run the penicillin prophylaxis program, and always supported our cardiac screening clinics and surgical programs while this year rolling out our Buzzy Bee needle pain relief kits to clinics across Timor-Leste. Their patient-centered approach is always evident and we are grateful for the many ‘over-and-above’ requests we make to support our organisation’s work.

As we celebrate our 10th year of operation, we know that our ability to continue to improve access to heart health services is a reflection of all of our devoted, passionate and talented volunteers and partners. As International Volunteer Day approaches on December 5th, we are grateful for our entire community of supporters, our ‘Heart Heroes’, who are dedicated to improving the health outcomes for young heart patients in Timor-Leste.

You can view a recording of our Supporter event here.

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Dr Ari Horton

James Dickie

Belinda Macdonald

Dr Virag Kushwaha

Maluk Timor RHD Team