Tribute to Ricardo Krauskopf

Our great friend and supporter Ricardo Krauskopf passed away on 24th September after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Ricardo has been a force of nature whose energy, commitment, vision and leadership has inspired so many to get involved in the cause of Timor Leste and the work of the Balibo House Trust.

Ricardo was a Trust Board member for 5 years, but he quickly decided that he could achieve far more by mobilising his Rotary network as partners in the Trust’s work.  For over 12 years he brought his vast experience in business, together with his passion for the people of Timor Leste to make so many projects happen.

At a time when the Trust was grappling with the enormity of the Balibo Fort Hotel project Ricardo brought his hotelier experience to bear, developing a business plan and demonstrating to donors that we had the capability to make it work.  Without Ricardo, it is doubtful that the Trust would have even contemplated taking on such an ambitious venture, or that donors would have been so fulsome in their support.

Ricardo, threw himself into every project. With his great friends in Rotary, he assiduously raised funds for the dental clinic, for the volunteer accommodation, the community kitchen, the Balibo Five kindergarten and several schools that the Trust rebuilt in partnership with Rotary and Spend It Well.

No project was too big or too small for Ricardo.  He described his own Port Melbourne Rotary Club as the dunny club, because it funded numerous sanitary projects.  But it quickly expanded into the can-do club, marshalling the amazing network of Rotary clubs to fund all manner of things.  And if there was ever a funding shortfall, Ricardo and his wife Suzanne put their hands I their own pockets to fund the difference.  Consequently, every project reached its funding target.

And it wasn’t just money.  Ricardo and others like his friend David Dippie from Keilor Rotary would spend days at Rotary’s Donations in Kind, filling containers with all manner of useful things like school furniture, dental chairs and playground equipment.

Despite the creeping impact of MND, Ricardo’s energy and commitment did not flag.  He was instrumental in marshalling Rotary to fund three schools in partnership with Spend It well and then with his wife Suzanne proceeded to completely fund the rebuild of the Faluwai school himself.  He particularly delighted in the energy and hope for the future embodied in Timor’s young people.

His contribution to our work has been diverse and with an enormous impact.  Indeed, without Ricardo and the Rotary network, so much of what we have achieved would simply not have happened.

His contribution was acknowledged by the Government of Timor Leste when Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao invited him in 2019 to the 20th. Anniversary of the vote for independence.  Sadly, his illness prevented him from being able to attend.

Ricardo’s generosity of spirit is legendary and he greeted everyone with open arms.  He loved the people of Timor Leste and made many friends in Balibo.  His loss will be mourned there as well as here in Australia.

With the current COVID restrictions in Victoria we are unable to gather and pay tribute to Ricardo, but the family have expressed the hope that in the New Year we can join them to acknowledge and celebrate his wonderful life and amazing contribution.

In the meantime, our thoughts are very much with Suzanne and their family.

Vale Ricardo.  You will continue to live in our hearts and inspire us to greater heights.

Rob Hudson

on behalf of the Board of the Balibo House Trust