Dear friends and family of Christine,
This message is on behalf of everyone involved with the NGO Maluk Timor based in Timor-Leste and the author is Dr Chris Fenton who is the CEO.
My name is Chris Fenton and I have been involved with Timor – Leste since April 2006 and met Christine for the first time in June 2006.
Since then I have worked with her on the same ever evolving NGO project continuously until now.
Her death is a real shock because she was as vibrant and as alive as any of us and if she can go suddenly like this then any of us can too. Christine was not in the twilight of her life.
She was in the full sunshine and she is so central to so many significant things in Timor that it seems very uncomfortable to say she was central to them but will be no longer.
I am sure there will be many people in Timor who will be thinking – What are we going to do now without Christine to turn to for advice… or to do the difficult things with the T-L Ministries that only she seemed to know how to do.
I used to visit her at her home in Lane Cove from 2006 and there was a real sense of industry there. When I first met her she was still travelling to scary places across the world for AFAP. She had so many amazing stories of her trips.
She really had a rich life full of the most extraordinary adventures especially those in Africa.
She was so tiny but such a force. Whilst you would be worried about most people traveling to such places it somehow seemed that if Christine was going there, there should be no concerns.
because no one was going to be sharper than her or get the better of her… and if they tried you felt that, after a tongue lashing from her pointing out the error of their ways, they would have scurried off with their tail between their legs.
She had a great, but always slightly mischievous smile. When she greeted you and you always had a sense that she was in charge of her destiny and enjoying herself.
Her experience of the Aid World, gathered through her many years with AFAP, now AOP, was profound. For someone trying to start up a new NGO with ambitious goals….. her counsel was critical as were her networks.
She was very generous with her time. I only realise now that all the hours of her time I took at Lane Cove…. and that we all took from her in Timor…. served her personally nothing at all…. and that it was all done simply out of a sense of trying to help those that were trying to help others….. and, in the end…. especially those trying to help the people of Timor-Leste.
Christine has been on our Board since 2012 when we amalgamated with Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili and she continued to manage the accounting of that most difficult entity pro bono…. after we came on the scene having done it for many years before that. She was, by then, ensconced in her townhouse on Beach Road on the shores of Dili harbour and later moved to her beloved Timor Plaza apartment.
She hosted many meetings in her town house and later on in her apartment for us. These meetings would continue for a very long time – very robustly – with Christine popping out for another ciggie every 20 minutes or so .
This was also an opportunity to get a minute’s peace from the endless deliberations and pontifications of the Aussies, who she had to work with, to get these NGO’s humming.
She was always pushing to see a meeting end with her foot on the accelerator.
She had three major NGOs under her charge and on whose Boards she sat– Bairo Pite Clinic which has now evolved into Maluk Timor, Timor Aid under Manuel Dos Santos and Klibur Domin under Joaquim Soares. Many, many other NGOs however had her help.
Her accounting practice, CC Financial Services, seemed to do EVERY Dili business’s accounts and, if not, then she did their audits. She was smart and sharp and so very quick at everything. Christine never took more words than were necessary to communicate.
Of all her passions and commitments, it seems that it was Rotary which was her number 1 love. Tuesday night was Dili Rotary’s meeting night and that was the one immovable night on which there would be no greater priority.
She would talk proudly of Dili Rotary’s achievements and I remember her talking about her Father’s very long and significant involvement in Rotary. She seemed to be very proudly carrying on the Rotary torch for him.
Through her work with NGOs and Rotary and as everyone’s accountant she employed and trained many Timorese staff. This gave them an opportunity for employment, training and career advancement. She enabled many NGOs to flourish by facilitating ‘mission critical’ documents and approvals and registrations which she would get her paid staff to chase up and make happen.
Again… this shows her very significant generosity. She helped lots of individual Timorese people by developing opportunities for them to improve themselves by pursuing Rotary scholarships.
The Christine we all knew was hilariously blunt and expletives were not that infrequent. She was not one to hold back in regard to her assessment of certain situations and characters and even our Board Meetings would be blessed with a crystal clear assessment of the uselessness of a certain individual or the fact that an idea just expressed was indeed bloody stupid.
She loved an evening glass of white wine and did not like having to travel at night very far at all from her beloved Timor Plaza.
She amazed us all when she followed up her ‘religious morning gym routine’ by opening her own gym and stocking it chock full with latest and smartest gym equipment and calling it CC Fitness Solutions. It is a truly impressive and substantial gym.
One had a sense that many other CC Something Solutions were in the pipeline.
We, at Maluk Timor, will, for a long time, be reflexly thinking to ourselves, that we need to ask Christine what to do about something and then sadly realising we can’t.
We are just really going to miss her and are all feeling very that sad she isn’t there anymore.
It was an honour and a privilege knowing you Christine and we will hold you in our heart forever and never forget that tiny powerhouse that you are.