My Hands Have the Gift of Making Vocations Grow

Dr. Mario Alberto Triana Estrada (Mayito) tells about his work at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Timor Lorosa’e National University.


Every now and then, memories come to his mind. He remembers how East Timor decided to move forward, despite the scourge of the Indonesian colonization, the poverty level of the population, and the high infant mortality rate index reported. Then Dr. Mario Alberto Triana Estrada (Mayito) had to learn about that country’s dialects, typical garments and food.

He recalls that day in which he was notified that he would travel to that nation, because Timor Lorosa’e National University was engaged in restructuring the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, having the Cuban teaching method as pattern.

Before, the students were sent to study in the Cuban Latin American School of Medicine until the fourth year, when they returned to complete their studies in their country.

He then remembered the days he spent in Venezuela, in 2003, when he took part in the foundation of the Latin American Doctors Training Program. It was then when he realized that, besides saving lives, his hands had the gift of making vocations grow.

Once organized, the project was submitted to governmental authorities “for them to see that we wanted to train integrated physicians who would be able to care for issues such as health promotion and prevention, healing, early diagnosis, and rehabilitation in each of the districts”. It was how East Timor’s only public university opened its Medical Faculty, under the auspices of Cuban health professionals.

And there came the times of holding scientific events, of increasing the rigour, of dismissing those who quit…until the graduation of the students. “It was the greatest in the history of that country, where 20-30 was the average number of graduates. We graduated 400 new medical doctors”.

Mayito is again walking along the streets of Trinidad. Yet, he follows the advances of the job he was once part of via the messages he gets from doctors who went there after him, and from those who once called him professor.

Every now and then memories come to his mind. He remembers the recent graduates dealing with their first patients, the South-East Asian country rising from its misery, and the words he heard from someone the day of the inauguration of the medical faculty who said: “There are good reasons why this center is located within Timor Lorosa’e University. Lorosa’e means rising sun, and those who will become doctors here will be the light of the rising sun this country needs”.

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