Visiting Australia from East Timor for the first time, 'Alto' is discovering what it is like to be hosted by those he has hosted previously in his own country.KATHLEEN TONINI December 19, 2012 4:47am
East Timor’s Alberto Pinto — or Alto as he is known — is visiting Australia for the first time.
Mr Pinto acts as driver, interpreter, cook and security manager for the St Joseph’s College immersion trips to East Timor.
Now he is in Australia, being hosted by those he has hosted in his own country.
While in Echuca for three weeks, Mr Pinto is staying with Glenn and Leanne Roberts.
Mr Roberts is a teacher at St Joseph’s and he and his wife have both been to East Timor several times.
‘‘Without Alto, we really couldn’t go,’’ Mrs Roberts said.
Mr Pinto said he often became so attached to the students and teachers who visited that when the time came to drop them back at the airport, he always left quickly, to stop himself from crying.
He said this was because in the young people and adults that came, he saw family.
While here, his itinerary includes visiting the wharf and going on a paddlesteamer, visiting the Kyabram Fauna Park and catching up with the students and teachers who have travelled to East Timor.
‘‘We’re looking after him for a change, because he looks after us,’’ Mrs Roberts said.
Mr Pinto said he was being treated ‘‘like a king’’ and was worried he would return home 5kg heavier.
So far he has come across some fairly significant differences between Australian and East Timorese life.
He is surprised at the number of birds flying around without being harassed because in East Timor, young boys with sling shots usually took aim at birds and then barbecued them.
Traffic here is also very ordered and well sign-posted, he said.
‘‘In East Timor there are no rules, you drive however you want,’’ Mr Pinto said.
He has also noticed there is no rooster to wake him in the morning and no buffalos crossing the road.
When Mr Pinto was six years old he was taken by the Indonesian military from his home to Jakarta and, after running away, was placed in a Catholic orphanage there.
He learnt English at the orphanage and later worked in hospitality, serving tourists.
Mr Pinto speaks Portugese, English, Bahasa, Tetum and two local dialects.
Before becoming involved with the college trip, Mr Pinto was working for a volunteer organisation in East Timor.
He now hopes to encourage tourism in his home town, which is about five hours from the capital Dili.
There are about 15 families living in the village, which is located near the country’s second highest mountain.
Mr Pinto said the college trip to East Timor could be confronting for the students that went, particularly when they visited some of the families’ homes.
But he said the locals welcomed the visitors, because they did not come simply to see, but to support and be involved.
‘‘Alto makes you feel like he’ll keep you safe
‘‘But they still worry when I drive,’’ Alto joked.
More than 90 cannabis plants have been sized from a sophisticated hydroponic set-up in a north Shepparton home this afternoon.
Local football talent Dan Howe played well in his first game for reigning AFL premiership club Hawthorn last Thursday night.
A mighty cheer may soon be heard down Merrigum way; the town has officially saved its post office.
Echuca race caller Matt Jackson is a familiar voice for many racing fans.
After a stunning 2014, Rochester Secondary College has hit the ground running in 2015 with school captains Jess Dwyer and Josh Hamilton promising an action-packed year ahead.
Elusive small man re-signs with club
A Seymour group is calling for aphasia sufferers in the Goulburn Valley to join its choir.
The NSW Government has made a significant funding announcement to expand the health service in Tocumwal.
Heathcote RSL Sub-branch is proposing some changes and additions to the honour boards in the foyer of the RSL hall in Heathcote.
Start your engines — the annual Cobram Lawn Mower Races is back on this Sunday at Scott’s Reserve, with lots on offer to keep you busy during the long weekend.
With their match against Finley all but sewn up, the Deniliquin Rhinos will look to tighten up their batting game ahead of next week's semi-final.
Fruit Growers Victoria plans to give fruit growers in Victoria more on-farm support as a result of its organisational restructure.
This photograph of a young man in cade army uniform was taken by Benalla-based photographer John Howship. Does anyone know who it might be?
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.