The remote village of Ai-Maulin (pop. 100+},in the high country, on the island of Timor-Leste, only had a walking path to the market. For decades, this 2 mile walking path became unusable during the rainy season and always limited economic pursuits, medical help and educational opportunities.
The leaders in the village of Ai-Maulin had lamented for years about the problems getting their prized fruits and vegetables, (grown in some of the most fertile soil on the island) to market. They appealed to the governing authorities in the market town. Years went by with no solution or help. No monies were available from the governing authorities.
In May 2017, Graciana Herculano visited the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Rotary Club in Minnesota, USA. Graciana, grew up in the village of Ai-Maulin and her father was one of the village leaders. She came to Minnesota with a Group Study Exchange, sponsored by Rotary International. The group consisted of professional people in the fields of education, law, engineering and media production.( Graciana is a professional educator)Two members of the group came from Timor-Leste and four came from northern Australia.
Graciana’s stories of Ai-Maulin and the struggles getting produce to market, mother’s giving birth in huts on stilts and children not able to attend school, were captivating. Rotarian Bruce Mogren was especially touched and he assured Graciana he would do all he could, along with the help of the Rotary club, to fund the building of a “real road” to Ai-Maulin. Rotarians Rick Pratt and Brian Buchmayer supported and assisted in the efforts to raise funds and assure security of the funds, which would eventually be transferred to Timor-Leste. The entire Rotary club soon supported these efforts, and by May of 2019 the entire project was funded and monies wired to the Dili Rotary Club in Timor-Leste, the closest club to the village of Ai-Maulin.
Construction of “The Road to Ai-Maulan” began in July 2019 and was completed and dedicated in November 2019. The new road, designed by a civil engineer, (one of the members of the Group Study Exchange from Australia ) handles light duty trucks and vans.
Now the villagers in Ai-Maulin have a safe and reliable way of getting their succulent produce to market, a faster way to the medical clinic and a short commute for the children attending school.
The decades of being hampered by a muddy, dangerous walking path are over!
Cost of the completed project, US $22,500.00
Rotary Club of North St Paul Maplewood Oakdale, MN, Rotary District 5960