Jon Andrews, Bayside Leader – Painters and Dockers' famous, flamboyant frontman Paul Stewart says he owes his life to the nuns of East Timor.
The rocker, an infamous rager on the music scene with the 80s punk band, spends much of his time now helping the poor of our northern neighbour.
He is the face of a series of fundraisers for the ALMA nuns, who provide care for disabled children in East Timor, including appearing at gigs with bands at Hampton RSL.
Stewart, whose family grew up in the Bayside area, and also a former journalist with News Corp, has a strong history with East Timor.
His brother Tony was one of the 'Balibo 5' – five Australian journalists killed by Indonesian forces in 1975, and his bands, both Painters and Dockers and the Dili Allstars, played a series of benefit concerts afterwards.
He said "divine intervention" by an East Timorese nun "saved his life" after decades of rock and roll overindulgence.
"I was in hospital, basically on my death bed, needing a new liver," he said. "A priest had actually given me my last rites. It had been 18 months of needing a transplant, but nothing was happening."
He said one day soon after he woke in hospital in Melbourne to find the nun sitting at the end of his bed. "I asked what she was doing there, she said she had heard we had helped kids in their village," he said.
"I said I need a new liver, she said she would pray for one for me. "And then bingo, next day, doctors told me one had come through, one had been donated."
He visits East Timor several times a year, and, combined with the Jesuit Social Services, has raised around $250,000 so far.
"We have our blood in their soil, I always say," he said. "I have been given a second chance; I want to give the East Timorese a second chance too."