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East Timor


Welcome

Up-Date December 2007

Once again, another year has gone by! Well, I've been busy working, living, experiencing East Timor.

2007 has been a little better than 2006, but still not great. There are still thousands of 'refugees' living in tents, too afraid to return to their homes in hostile neighborhoods or waiting for government subsidy to rebuild. The police forces are somewhat active under the management and guidance of UN police from around the world.

The biggest event was the replacement of the temporary prime minister and a change of the government through a peaceful election. First, a new president was elected, and the country picked nobel prize winner, Jose Ramos Horta. Then the first parliamentary election was held, peacefully, under the watchfull eye of UN peace keepers and police. Unfortunately, political strife followed as party leadership and activists (mostly from Fretalin which failed to win a majority, and lost a bid to form a coalition government) refused to accept the decision. Again, houses were burnt, stones thrown, people scared. The worst was in August as the announcements for the new government were made. While calm mostly prevails now, the lustre of a new nation is gone, and the once fragile unity of purpose is gone.

The new government is decidedly different than the old. Formed by a coalition of parties, led by the resistance hero, Xanana Gusmao, the government features new, younger faces, many who were educated during Indonesian times and stayed in the country during occupation (while Fretalin was and is dominated at the top by leaders exiled during the occupation). The new government is struggling to organize a civil service formed under and loyal to a different party. Progress is slow.

However, life goes on. Farmers grow food, traders buy it, and market vendors sell it. Importers bring in goods from Indonesia. The government is trying to engage productively in this process. The economy has had a major boost by the thousands of peacekeepers and police sent by the UN to stabalize the situation.

The good thing is that students are still in school and the teachers show up and teach. So there is still hope for the future, people still believe in the possibilities. So we have put together a calendar that shows a little of this perserverance and determination.

The net proceeds from sale of this calendar will support women from Manatuto in their efforts to gain an education from a university in Dili.

Click here to view a low resolution version pdf of the calendar. High quality versions of this calendar, printed out to hang 17 inches by 11 inches, are available for order at $10 each, plus shipping. You can order by e-mail. Shipping is free for orders of ten or more.

Despite the political situation, the last couple of years, students are determined to get ahead. A record number of students tried to gain acceptance in the national university, less than a third were admitted.

Click here to read more about the Scholarship fund and the women we support.

Cover Photo from the Livelihoods in Timor Loro Sa'e 2008 Calendar.

Background

On 17 April, 2003, I began a twenty-seven month adventure in Timor Loro Sa'e, the world's newest country, as a Peace Corps volunteer. Together with seventeen others we learned first hand, the hard way, about this culture. How to live here, how to find enough healthy food to survive, how to set about some small projects and actually get results. We came to this strife-torn land hoping to be of assistance to the enigmatic people here as they struggle to establish a democracy. Seven of us stuck it through with the Peace Corps till the end of our service. Now, three and a half years after we came, I'm the last of the original eighteen left on the island, the sole survivor! This web site comprises a collection of pictures, comments, discussions, letters, and other momentos from this experience.

This site is devided into thematic sections for your easy viewing: Photos and Commentary.

 

Photo Galleries

Click on the link below to view the most recent photo galleries in a new browser.

 

Commentary

I haven't updated this section of the site in a long time, but some of the stories can still be informative and interesting. Quotes and non-sequiturs are potentially humorous for outsiders, and for those who have been here or elsewhere in the Peace Corps, they'll resonate.

You can read more about the scholarship fund we have started and how it is supporting women from Manatuto to attend University in Dili, by clicking here.

 

Click here for the Index of Commentary

 

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