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Vale Helen Hendrey

It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Helen Hendrey, longtime friend, former Secretary and Treasurer. We wish to extend to Helen's family our deepest sympathies and give thanks for her selfless contributions throughout the years. Helen will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.  


Message from Kirsty Sword Gusmão:


Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that I am writing to you to let you know that a wonderful member of your Committee, Helen Hendrey, died after a long illness on August 1. I send my love and sympathy to Helen’s husband, Pat, her 8 children and their many grandchildren. 

I first learned about the importance of friendship as the basis for good community development work many decades ago when I worked for Australian Volunteers Abroad. Underpinning AVA’s philosophy was the notion that good and sustainable community development stems from people to people bonds built on cross-cultural understanding, mutual respect, trust and friendship. This same philosophy was at the heart of the work that Helen did during the 18 years she served at the Mornington Community Information and Advice Centre. For her work she was awarded an OAM in January 2003. 

It was after this that she joined the Friends of Lospalos Committee and acted as Secretary and later Treasurer of the Friendship Group. Again, the two-way community engagement approach which underpinned Helen’s work on this Committee had an impact in the areas of education and training, health and livelihoods in Lospalos.

I met Helen several times during visits I made to the Mornington Peninsula as my mother, Rosalie, was a member of your Committee before she moved back to Melbourne. In May 2006 I had the pleasure of attending a fund-raising evening at Toorak College where I was able to thank the Committee for the support they had given to enhancing the educational prospects of the young people of Lospalos. At that time, the money raised by the Committee had gone towards supporting two students at Baucau Catholic Teachers’ College and 14 junior high school students in Lospalos.

I know how difficult communication with their friendship towns can be for the friendship groups here in Australia. Helen’s years of working with the Mornington Community Centre had linked her with a network of like-minded people in Rotary and other organisations who would take letters and money when they visited Timor-Leste. In those early days, and still today to a degree, in the outlying towns there were no banks or post offices. My mother would often make a trip to Lospalos when she visited us and would carry letters to the schools etc. She would then return with requests from the schools and community centres. So, I can imagine the extra hours of work that were required by the Secretary and Treasurer when she returned. 

Finally, I want to give thanks for Helen and all that she has contributed to a bright future for Timor-Leste and its citizens and for being such a wonderful role model to us all. 


Kirsty Sword Gusmão

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