The Illawarra rocks for Timor-Leste

This weekend Joe and Maura Cato held their 4th annual fundraiser on behalf of Maluk Timor! The Illawarra locals have raised over $200 K in the last 6 years with the dedicated support of their family, friends and community. This makes them one of the largest private donor groups to our work in Timor-Leste.

This year’s event was held in the picturesque heritage town of Berry. The generosity of the local community was again on full display with a total of 15K raised for Maluk Timor through ticket sales, raffle and auction.

Joe with the clipboard!

Not just any fundraiser, the Cato’s annual event or “FoxFest” features live music, dancing and a festival atmosphere. This year’s concert featured local favourites Blessie Pica, The Dynamic Lifters (#2) and Lo Roberts at the Berry Showgrounds.

All performers volunteer their time and put on passionate, boot-stomping performances that had the crowd up and dancing all afternoon.

The local community raiiles around Maluk Timor

The event also gave the Illawarra community a chance to hear directly from two of our inspiring volunteers. Doctors Josh Francis and Bethany Holt explained the most recent priorities of Maluk Timor’s efforts and told of their experiences on the ground in Dili. The stories provided the attendees a tangible insight into the daily impact that their generous donations support.

Board member Dianne, husband Ross and Dr Bethany

Dr Josh told an amazing story about the first children he met in Timor-Leste with preventable rheumatic heart disease who had been diagnosed in time to receive life-saving penicillin treatment. All with ultrasound machines the size of your mobile phone.

“It’s remarkable – when we rescanned their heart, for many their disease had improved and for some it had resolved completely”

Board member Dr Josh with the beard and board member Frank on the right

Dr Beth’s stories were equally inspiring, explaining the impact of our Nurse Triage programme which has been awarded the competitive Australian Government Friendship Grant. Important systems like triaging which order patients can see a doctor according to how sick they are simply do not exist in Timor-Leste.

“We are now able to reach ¼ of Dili’s population – 55,000 people – to ensure they are seen in the right place, at the right time. And we no longer have deaths in the waiting room”

All of our work is only possible because of the incredible generosity of donors from around Australia – even in the small corners like Illawarra. Events like this have inspired many of Cato’s community to become long-term Maluk Timor supporters. As the headline act Lo passionately declared:

“You people are amazing – to open your hearts, minds and wallets to a community so far away – is mind blowing”

Lo singing to the crowd

Joe and Maura Cato have been longstanding supporters of the Maluk Timor’s aims and have tirelessly organised fundraising events on our behalf for many years. Thank you Joe, Maura and the rockstars of the Illawarra for another outstanding FoxFest!


Help us do even more

Even though healthcare in Timor-Leste has improved, there is still so much more to do.  

A small amount of money goes a long way with the per person health budget less than US$100 per year. 


Covers the cost of petrol for a month so a healthcare worker can provide home visits around Dili.

$58 p/month

in 12 months

Covers the cost of running a nutrition referral project in one community healthcare centre.

$650 p/month

Covers the full cost to employ a nurse who can help deliver our programs.