Bella Galhos


Bella Galhos was an activist in the pro-independence movement in Timor-Leste. She then gained asylum in Canada but returned to her home country in 1999 to help rebuild. After studying psychology and women's studies at the University of Hawaii, she served as an advisor to Timor-Leste's president. She now manages the organization Santana Unipessoal, and is building Timor Leste's first green school, Leublora Green School (LGS), which teaches children sustainable agriculture practices and good nutrition. She has been selected as one of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion to be awarded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2017.

Savio Freitas


Savio Freitas is a Timorese musician currently pursuing his master’s degree in music education at the Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima, Japan. He is the 2014 recipient of the Elisabeth University of Music Xavier Award, which recognizes academic excellence. Savio received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) in 2009. It is during his years of studying philosophy in Manila that he composed enough songs to merit an album. Sponsored by the Jesuits, Savio released his first album A Minha Vida in 2007, from which sales in Singapore were contributed to the Jesuit mission in Timor Leste.

These days Savio is busy researching tebedai, a form of traditional Timorese music. He aims to understand the meaning of tebedai, discover its origins, means of origination, propagation, and preservation on the island of Timor, and understand its role in Timorese society today.

Francisca Maia


Francisca Maia is a Timorese filmmaker who studied at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Victorian College of the Arts. Her film Mensajeiru follows a 15 year-old boy in Timor-Leste during the occupation and war. She was drawn to film for its potential to evaluate and raise consciousness about social issues like cultural oppression, gender-based inequality and discrimination, poverty, and political violence. For Maia, telling these stories is about not only sharing experiences with others but also a therapeutic and healing process.

Dr. Dan Murphy

Dr. Daniel Murphy

Dr. Dan started working in Timor-Leste in September 1998 during Indonesian occupation until he was forced out. He returned in 1999 and has been committed to providing free, essential healthcare for the poor and underprivileged people of Timor-Leste through the Bairo Pite Clinic. The need for accessible and effective healthcare continues to rise as Dr. Dan and his staff treat hundreds of patients every day. Dr Dan’s day begins at 8:00am and finishes well into the night. Treating widespread diseases including tuberculosis (TB), malaria, dengue fever, pneumonia, diarrhoea, hepatitis, encephalitis, yaws, leprosy and HIV, Dr Dan also delivers preventive medicine to men, women and children and assists in the delivery of up to 100 babies every month.

His vision for the future includes establishing a medical school to train Timor-Leste physicians and to build on the success of Bairo Pite Clinic, continuing to expand services to meet the healthcare needs of the Timorese.

Read more about Dr. Dan and the Bairo Pite Clinic here

David Levy

David Levy

Canadian-born multi-instrumentalist David Levy is the founder and leader of Out to Lunch.David has released three albums with Out to Lunch, Excuse Me While I Do the Boogaloo, Melvin’s Rockpile (Accurate Records) and No One Left Behind (Mesa Recordings). He can also be heard as a sideman on Verve Remixed 3 (Universal Records), as well as on the Junior Boys, It’s All True, Beyond Dull Care, So This Is Goodbye, and Last Exit (Domino Records). David plays bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, bansuri flute and Ableton Live.

David's career as an international human rights lawyers began with the United Nations Development Programme where he helped to create its Social and Environmental Compliance Unit. Currently, David is in Dili, Timor-Leste researching and writing the Convention Against Torture Submission for the Provedoria for Human Rights and Justice.

Daniel J. Groshong

Daniel J Groshong

Daniel J. Groshong, a native of Oregon, USA has been working as a professional photographer since 1986, covering some of the biggest news from Asia to Afria and Latin America. He is the man behind Timor-Leste's first coffee table book. Timor-Leste: Land of Discovery, a project he ran and funded himself. He gave away the picture's rights to the Timor-Leste government because he wanted to provide the country with positive images: of beauty, nature and strong people rather than war, destruction and despair.  

Since 2003, Groshong has been focusing on the development of sustainable nature-based tourism and green entrepreneurs, which culminated in the May 2010 founding of the Hong Kong charitable organization called the Hummingfish Foundation (#1452323). 

Currently Groshong is passing his knowledge onto a new generation of photographers by teaching a photojournalism course which he developed at Hong Kong's City University. 

Samuel Porter

Samuel Porter

Sam is an economist and activist who is passionate about communicating big ideas through everyday language. 

Sam grew up in Hong Kong, has called London and Sydney - and now Dili - home. Sam moved to Timor-Leste in 2014 following hot on the heels of his partner who works with a women's advocacy NGO. 

Before moving to Dili, Sam spent the past five years working in the Australian labor movement, analysing public and economic policy and working on political campaigns. Sam was inspired by working with low income Australians, empowering them to campaign for a fairer and more equal society. 

Kathryn Robertson

Kathryn Robertson.jpg

Kathryn Robertson is Canadian and has been living in Asia since 2001. She is professionally trained as a Social Worker and has focused her work on violence against women, human rights and social and economic equality. 

She enjoys working with people to find practical solutions and to find connections between issues and groups. In Timor-Leste, Kathryn’s involvements have included the first research on the prevalence of violence against women in Timor-Leste, support to establish a service to provide medical treatment called Fatin Hakmatek, counselling and forensic investigation of cases of violence against women and children, support to the establishment and sustainability of the land network Rede ba Rai, and support to publish and socialize the report of the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).

David Roach


David Roach is a director and co-founder of Catalpa International, a not-for-profit design and technology agency which provides innovative, simple and effective solutions in an international development context. David has been working as a software designer for the past 10 years. He believes that the key to successful design lies in learning from and understanding the target audience, and involving them in the development process. Great design brings together the needs of people with the possibilities of technology -- but more importantly, it is appropriate to its setting. David was involved in developing Timor-Leste's first mHealth program Liga Inan, the Government of Myanmar's Aid Information Management System, a mobile based weather service, just to name a few.

Maria Madeira

Maria Madeira was born in the village of Gleno in the Ermera region of Timor-Leste.  She was evacuated from Timor in 1976 during the Indonesian invasion, and spent the next 8 years in an International Red Cross refugee camp on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal.  She immigrated to Australia with her family, and went on to complete three degrees, a B.A. Fine Arts, a Graduate Diploma of Education (Major in Art), both from Curtin University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Murdoch University. She is currently completing her Ph.D in Art at Curtin.

Maria returned to Timor-Leste between 2000-2004 to help in the rebuilding and development of the world’s newest nation.  She acted as interpreter and translator for (APAC) Health Systems’ project to distribute ambulances throughout the country, and also assisted in translating Government health policies. Maria also designed the logo for the ambulance system. In 2004 and 2005, Maria was employed as an interpreter, translator and cultural adviser by the United Nations’ Serious Crimes Unit investigating Crimes Against Humanity committed in 1999 and 2000.  While in Dili, Maria also worked voluntarily every Saturday as an art teacher at the Arte Moris art school, provided free to local youths.

To date, Maria has held over twenty solo or group exhibitions of her painting, sculpture, drawings, mixed media collages and installation pieces, across Australia, Portugal, Macau, Brazil, Indonesia and East Timor.  Her main concern as an artist, art educator/teacher and cultural adviser is to convey Timor-Leste's culture and traditions to other societies – and vice-versa.  It is her strong belief that art and culture are the spirit and soul of a nation.  She regards art and culture as a vehicle through which future generations can learn to appreciate the beauty and strength of their own culture – and, in this way, discover who they are in the world.

Rui Pinto

Rui Pinto is a zoologist who works as the Natural Resources Manager at Conservation International. He conducts biological monitoring, oversees logistics for different biological expeditions, and actively engages with communities in bringing local knowledge and scientific knowledge together. His works have been published by UNESCO and the Commonwealth Scientific, and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

Born and raised in Mozambique during Timor-Leste’s civil war, with a Mozambican father and a Timorese mother, Rui re-connected with his family in Timor-Leste after the restoration of independence. He now lives and works in Timor-Leste. Rui’s personal interests range from local knowledge and indigenous methodologies to trauma and its impacts on local level decision-making processes. When not working in the office, Rui and his wife can be found working together on their personal projects, which involve gender, politics, and children's rights.

Photo courtesy of UN/Martine Perret

MAC - Crianças Unidas is a youth group that was founded with the belief that children and adolescents are human beings that have the right to live to their full potential and express their talent and intelligence through creative and innovative activities. Since MAC was founded in 2001, just two short years following the departure of Indonesian troupes and many years of violence under the Indonesian occupation, many of the children and adolescents were traumatized. Through activities such as capoeira and theatre, the young leaders at MAC hoped that they would be able recover from this trauma and stay away from violent behavior and situations they encountered in their daily lives.