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Alumni Stories

Helping the less fortunate

Welhelmus Poek, supported by an Australia Award Scholarship (AAS), has just graduated from the University of Canberra and is ready to return to Indonesia to facilitate change.

Thirty-eight-year-old Welhelmus Poek is well versed in the workings of non-governmental organisations in Indonesia having been involved in this field for the past 13 years.

Welhelmus works with Plan International, which enables deprived children, their families and their communities to meet their basic needs. He is also involved with Hivos, an international development organisation guided by humanist values.

Through Hivos, diverse issues are responded to. “We implement renewable energy, providing electricity to communities. We also look at gender issues and child protection issues,” says Welhelmus.

When he speaks about the role such organisations play in the lives of many in Indonesia, Welhelmus’ passion is evident; “I want to help others who are less fortunate. I like to help as many people as possible with community work.”

Indonesia, with a population in excess of 267 million, is regarded as a developing country. Issues at the front and centre include poverty, education, child protection, water and energy.

But Welhelmus felt that he needed to know more in order to help those less fortunate, particularly in Kupang, in the eastern part of Indonesia. 

So at 36 years of age, Welhelmus applied for an Australia Award Scholarship funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Australian Award Scholarship program strategically focuses on Australia’s aid to developing countries through education.

“I applied after seeing it on a website. I was already aware of the scholarship though. My uncle received a similar DFAT scholarship to study in Australia and this motivated me to apply.”

Welhelmus opted for a Master of International Development at UC because it suited his needs.

“When I did some research, I found that the University of Canberra was more practical, I needed it more than I needed theory.”

Two years later, Welhelmus has graduated with a Master of International Development.

“One of the main reasons for coming to UC was to develop my skills, especially my network. I’m looking to establish my own organisation to help young people in Indonesia,” says Welhelmus.

One of the benefits of studying at UC is that it fosters partnerships through the alumni network, a network Welhelmus is hoping to engage with.

The AAS program aims to strengthen relationships between countries and between professions. It looks to develop leadership potential, and improve living standards and economic growth in developing countries.

As one of 295 to graduate under the AAS from UC, Welhelmus says he is ready now for the new phase in his life. And he is ready to devote his time to helping the less fortunate in Indonesia.

Welhelmus’s commitment and ability to facilitate change, armed with his Master of International Development, exemplifies the reason why the AAS program exists.

Words by Tim Gavel. Photo by Madeleine Wood.

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