Saturday, December 18th, 2010
Award-winning Brisbane-based builder Indigo Homes recently headed to East Timor to continue building a very physical a relationship with one of Australia’s less fortunate neighbours.

Indigo’s purchasing manager, Clint Joyce, led a week-long building project to expand a school high up in a remote village in the mountains of East Timor. His invovement is part of a commitment Indigo Homes' director and co-founder Chris La Franchi made to send a team member to build in Railako Kraik every year. The school project is part of the current focus of University of Queensland Timor association.

While the group of 12 included a couple of Queensland tradies, the bulk of the keen volunteers were building novices. Still, under Joyce’s guidance as a registered builder, and with plenty of help from willing locals, the team constructed the new school building in record time.

“The locals had had no equipment, so they had levelled the site by eye,” says Joyce. “The first day we grabbed our levels and began digging the building platform with shovels and picks.”

Because torrential rain hit most days by 3pm, the team set a cracking pace for the job, starting work at six or seven in the morning, and often working through the rain.

This was riskier than it might sound, as the volunteers’ accommodation was about 30 minutes away by 4WD. “We had to hope the rain stopped or we’d have nowhere to sleep!” says Joyce.

When they did sleep, the crew bedded down in a basic shed that was part of the legacy left by Indigo Homes’ director and co-founder Chris La Franchi who took the same trip in 2009. Inspired by a friend from the Terrace Timor Network, Chris researched East Timor’s history and decided Indigo could help.

“The real story was pretty horrendous,” says Chris. “You wonder how it could happen on our doorstep. Going there to help made me feel a little better.”

What Chris didn't realise was how this project would impact his own life.

“I took my teenage son, to help him grow as a person. Things you take for granted here are your daily challenges there.”

“One reason I wanted to have my own business was to be able to help the wider community. Timor is a perfect example of that,” says Chris.

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