Sunset in Balibo

Balibo, Timor Leste – Volunteer Dentists are needed now!11990609_124187527930411_1200247593657589641_n

East Timor (Timor Leste in Portuguese) continues to suffer the after effects of its decades-long struggle for independence against Indonesian occupation, which severely damaged the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people. The country relies on foreign support as it struggles to build a viable economy with coffee beans as one of their valuable resources. Predominantly Catholic, over one-third of the population lives below the international poverty line (less than US$1.25/day) and around half the population is illiterate.  Life can be challenging in this beautiful country however it is a wonderful experience for the adventurous and the local people are genuinely welcoming.

Placement Overview – Dental Professionals

The Dental Clinic is based in the picturesque village of Balibo which is located around 120 km west of Dili.  The construction of the dental clinic was funded mainly by various Rotary Clubs and was officially opened in August 2016 by former President HE Jose Ramos Horta.  He was also their first patient!

The Balibo Dental Clinic aims to improve the oral health of the local population by providing access to dental treatment, community education and prevention programs. There are only five dentists in the entire country, most of whom are based in Dili.  Families have an average of 5 children and they receive very limited dental attention. With very few transport options, most people will walk for 2-3 hours from surrounding villages to visit the clinic.

The clinic has one main room fitted out with equipment and two dental chairs, there are a couple of smaller rooms and a reception area.  We hope to employ a local dental nurse who will assist visiting dentists, teach dental hygiene at local schools and manage patient records.  They desperately need the additional skills and support from volunteer dentists and dental nurses.

Final year dental students are welcome, however will need a supervising dentist to oversee their work.  Students can also assist with basic clinical practice, check-ups and teaching oral hygiene to the local children.

Please bring conservative, comfortable cotton clothing to wear while working in the clinic.  Bring disposable gloves, face mask and antiseptic hand gel for your use.  We will also provide you with a ‘wish list’ of supplies for the clinic as well as the Surgery Manual.

The clinic is attached to the Balibo Community Learning Centre which runs English lessons and computer classes.  The staff speak English and can assist with translation as required.

Non-medical partners are most welcome at the centre and can volunteer at the local kindergarten or school.  The hotel staff would also welcome English lessons!

Accommodation – Balibo Fort Hotel

Your accommodation in Balibo is a very special mountain retreat.  This boutique hotel is amazing and h
as 8 rooms inside the walls of the 350-year old Balibo Fort.  There is comfortable accommodation, 24/7 security, English language TV channels and spectacular views across the walls of the Balibo Fort.  The Fort is just a one minute walk to the dental clinic.

There is plenty to explore nearby including caves, waterfalls and villages, hiking trails, mountain bike rides and ancient Portuguese hot springs.  There is a Cultural and Heritage Centre where you can learn about Balibo’s tragic history between Australia, Timor and Indonesia and visit Australia House to view the presentations and memorial to the Balibo Five journalists.

Arrival Information

You will be met on arrival at Dili International Airport and transferred by private car along the scenic coastal road to Balibo which is around 3 hours.

When to Go 

East Timor has two seasons: wet (December to April) and dry (May to November).

Daytime temperatures are around 30-35°C all year-round in the lowland areas, dropping to the low 20s overnight. In the mountain areas, warm-to-hot daytime temperatures drop to a chillier 15°C at night, less at altitude. At the end of the dry season in parts of the north coast the mercury hovers over 35°C.  Both the Hotel and the clinic are air conditioned.

Costing Per Person: balibo-fort-hotel

7 Night Program:  AUD 1,495 (single room), AUD 995 (twin share)

Other durations are available – please ask for details.


  • Return Private Transfers Dili Airport / Balibo Accommodation
  • Pre-departure support and information pack.
  • Accommodation in a deluxe room at the luxury 4-star Balibo Forte Hotelbalibo-fort-garden
  • Daily breakfasts and dinners (2 courses) at the onsite restaurant.
  • Registration and translator
  • DocTours t-shirt and personalised luggage label


  • Items of a personal nature (ie telephone, snacks, drinks, etc)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Passport, Visa fees
  • Vaccinations
  • Flights (and taxes) to and from Dili


Your voluntary work may be eligible for CPD points with your relevant college.  Please ask for more information.

We recommend that dentists advise their professional indemnity provider of their volunteer work in advance of travel.

A Working with Children Clearance Check (or similar) is required for all volunteers and we can provide guidance on how to arrange this clearance.


Processing of your Volunteer Application Form can be initiated once we have received your deposit.  Due with your Application Form is $ 495.00.  This deposit is non-refundable.

FINAL PAYMENT is due two months prior to departure or on receipt of invoice if travelling in less than two months.  Payments by Visa and Master Card incur a 1.5% fee.


STA Travel (ATAS Accreditation A10872) provides exclusive offers and benefits for students and volunteers.  The travel team can be contacted for assistance with flights and travel insurance on:  Email: or by phone:  1300 675 435.


It is a condition of your travel arrangements that you have current travel insurance to cover against cancellation fees, medical expenses, lost luggage and evacuation.


Visas are required for most nationalities travelling to Timor Leste.  A tourist visa on arrival (of up to 30 days’ duration) is available to valid Australian passport holders for US$30.  A departure tax of US$10 is applicable and there are currently no money exchange facilities at the airport. Please ensure that your passport expires more than 6 months after you return home and there are at least two blank pages in your passport.  We also recommend taking some spare passport photos.


Please refer to the Conditions section on the Application Form.  Deposits are non-refundable once your arrangements have been confirmed.

Please note that all costs are subject to change due to increases in taxes, hotel and volunteer price increases, as well as currency adjustments