Paramedic's memorable journey of kindness
FOR Bundaberg paramedic Belinda Donkers, nothing could be better than an adventure with heart.
She recently joined Agnes Water trek co-ordinator Mick Stuth on a foot journey of more than 150km from Dili to Betano.
It was an adventure filled with steep ascents and descents, spectacular views, river crossings and traditional villages.
"It was very challenging and rewarding and we met people who have probably never seen a westerner before,” Ms Donkers said.
"The locals were really friendly. You go into the village and all you hear is the kids laughing.”
The journey was rough, fun and wild but at its heart was a good cause - fundraising for the developing nation's poorest people and providing valuable medical knowledge and services.
"We taught some of the local ladies first aid,” Ms Donkers said.
"I wanted to do a holiday that was helping someone else.”
In a nation where even simple ailments can have devastating consequences, medical care is an urgent need.
As part of the trip, Ms Donkers is aiming to raise $20,000 to help the East Timor Heart Fund.
While on the trek she helped screen children for Streptococcus A in school children, an important preventative measure to reduce the likelihood of rheumatic heart disease.
"They don't have the level of funding we do,” she said.
It's a country where many people earn around $50 a month.
"It's just a developing nation and give them another 10 years and it'll be different yet again,” Ms Donkers said.
She admits when she first saw the terrain she wondered if she was prepared, but the sense of adventure soon took over.
"It was spectacular,” Ms Donkers said.
"I most definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a challenge who isn't a princess and doesn't mind getting dirty - anyone who likes challenge and adventure and likes to get off the beaten track.”
On what she described as "goat trails” and with trek guides wearing thongs, Ms Donkers said every new sight was something to behold.
"You'll go down some goat track and you'll see a pony tied up and go 'wow, who do you belong to?'” she said.
"I would definitely go back and try to help the community some way.”
Conditions could be chaotic, but it made it all the better for coming back and telling stories, Ms Donkers said.
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