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.
Much like the 16-year-old teenager who outgrows their childhood bedroom, it’s time for Kyabram Fauna Park’s saltwater crocodile Getcha to upgrade to a larger enclosure.
Dawn Tabor 10 January 1944 – 10 September 2016
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
MELINDA Gates once said ‘‘a woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman’’.
OUR Lady of the Sacred Heart Elmore was a sea of colour earlier this month for Footy Colours Day.
THERE were picnics galore at St Augustine’s College recently as the school celebrated St Augustine’s Day with a whole college mass and a community picnic on the school oval.
Seymour A and B-grade in season decider
Extensive rainfall in the Southern Riverina is having a negative impact on farming.
IT’S JUST over two years since Melbourne-born Elizabeth Carr decided to make a tree change and move to Redesdale.
Former Moira Shire mayor Marie Martin will be running in the upcoming council election.
Nick Caruso will compete in tumbling at the National Clubs Championships in Bendigo tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 16
The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
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.