East Timor suffers from an almost total lack of vocational training facilities. Youth that want to learn a viable practicable profession are at a loss to find a place to learn. This year thanks to Leo Nagtegaal the Bakhita project in Eraulo, Ermera district will be starting up a new vocational training centre with three main goals. One – to provide training for youth in viable crafts that can be readily turned into profitable employment. The second is to provide the rural Ermera community with metalworking services that do not currently exist – at a cost so that the centre can be at least partly self-supporting, the third is to explore the possibilities of establishing light manufacturing of items needed by the local community so that youth who successfully complete training can find local employment for their skills. The Bakhita program had already taken the first steps in establishing this centre by building the first buildings that would be needed and targeting metalwork as the section they would like to start up first. Their biggest problem was where to find the tools and equipment to get started. In response to that need, Leo Nagtegaal donated an entire professional-level metal workshop to get this ambitious project up and running, but that was just the beginning of what has proven to be a long yet rewarding adventure for us on Vega and our friends at the Bakhita Vocational Training Center.
Thanks to Leo’s extensive engineering experience we were able to establish what tools, equipment, and expendables would be needed so that the centre could provide meaningful training on relevant equipment. Then came the hard work of locating, comparing prices, sourcing, deciding what would last and what was junk, and at last purchasing all that was needed. It may sound simple but everything from wielding machines to grinding disks and a load of simple and not so simple things had to be found and purchased. We did our purchasing in Jakarta where the prices were the best and where we have several good contacts who were, if not overjoyed – at least, willing to help us chop down our seemingly endless lists. A very special thanks goes out to our friend Adri, from Depoteknik, in Jakarta, who used all of his skills and experience in the professional tool business not only to get us the best tools at the best prices, but also to find many things we never would have found by ourselves.
Once we had found and purchased everything – well almost everything – Adri’s lorry delivered it to the boat where the not so obvious challenge of stowing an entire shop on board had to be overcome. Out came the salon table and in went several stainless steel eye pads then we filled almost the entire salon area with the larger tools. The two industrial welding machines had to be slowly lowered on tackle through the main hatch then manhandled by several pretty strong volunteers into place in the salon. Meggi did her usual magic at creating 15 square meters of useable storage space from only about 10 square meters of real space. Then it was a challenge on how to find space for all the smaller things like 40 kgs of various sized welding rods or delicate callipers, wire brushes, and measuring equipment. Somehow she did it and when all was safely stowed it was hard to tell that so much had really come on board..