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
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
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
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.
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.