In 2018, Drs Lindsay and Dianne Sherriff farewelled their home and country practice of 25 years in Kerang, Victoria and set out on a new chapter in Timor-Leste. For Dianne this was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream that began with a visit to Timor-Leste as a school girl.
She and her husband Lindsay had tasted overseas medical work, spending two years in Africa aboard one of the Mercy Ships. Having heard about Maluk Timor from a friend, they made the connection and committed to a two-year posting in Dili as training supervisors in the Family Medicine Program.
Dianne describes her attraction to this role in Dili: “The more we read and learnt about [Maluk Timor’s] work, and the needs of this country, the more we realised that our many years of learning about teaching and mentoring of junior colleagues was preparing us for this very task.”
This transition meant a complete change from their usual clinical work in Australian general practice. “We have discovered that we work very well together,” says Dianne. “I have a gift in preparation of tutorial materials, and Linds has a gift of delivering it in an enthusiastic manner. That keeps it interesting.”
Adjusting to life in Timor-Leste has not been without challenges for this adventurous couple, but they take the setbacks in their stride. Their choice to take this path was rooted in a shared conviction that God had prepared them for this task, “The job seemed, in many ways, tailor made for us.”
Importantly, Dianne and Lindsay identify strongly with Maluk Timor’s emphasis on developing the skills of the Timorese health professionals, rather than on delivering health services directly. “It fits with our understanding of the importance of equipping local staff to do the work, as the most sustainable model of health care.”
Dr Jeremy Beckett, Director of Maluk Timor, remains very grateful for their involvement: “It’s been terrific to watch our Timorese trainees grow in confidence under Dianne and Lindsay’s mentorship. It’s changing the way these doctors will practice into the future, which will benefit this country for another thirty years.”
As for Dianne and Lindsay, they’re quite at home as part of Maluk Timor: “It is a great privilege to be serving alongside this vibrant team.”