Emerge now biggest ACU donor: all for Timor Leste

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Emerge Foundation, the charity backed by many funds management and financial advisory firms, last week donated $210,000 to the Australian Catholic University to help continue its work boosting education in Timor Leste.

After 12 years of donations, Emerge has become the ACU’s largest single private donor, the university’s head of operations and deputy vice-chancellor, Stephen Weller, said at the annual cocktail function in Sydney to thank supporters.

The ACU is a big provider of education for trainee teachers, based in Bacau in Timor Leste. It has produced 515 graduates with bachelor’s degrees and 17 with master’s.

Margie Beck, a former senior lecturer at ACU in Australia, moved to Bacau to establish the teachers’ degree qualification under the university’s curriculum. She has subsequently written books in Tetun, Timor Leste’s local language, although many residents still speak Portuguese, from its early colonialization, and some Indonesian from its brutal occupation between 1975 and independence in 1999.

She said that the aid program was committed to improving skills and education in Timor Leste, which was arguably the poorest country in the Asia Pacific region. The first graduation for trainee teachers took place in 2006.

Emerge Foundation also has what it calls a “barefoot nurses” program, aimed mainly at training mid-wives to go out into the villages, where one in four women in childbirth have traditionally died during or shortly after.

Ian MacRitchie, a successful financial advisor who, with his wife Marionne, founded and still runs Emerge, handed over what Frank Casarotti described as the “silly big cheque” to ACU’s Stephen Weller. Casarotti, the chair of the foundation fund-raising committee, is the well-known marketing director for Magellan Group.

He said that this year there would be two big sport-themed fund raisers, the new “Legends of Sport” on May 17 and the established “Rugby Long Lunch” on September 13. He said tables were already selling for the new event. The Rugby Long Lunch always sells out well in advance.

– G.B.

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