Friday February 26th
Is it only the end of day 2?? We are now exhausted and overloaded with information, images, food and emotions. What a day! We started with a history lesson from La’o Hamutuk while we sat under a thatched roof during a torrential down pour. There are so many issues here in such a newly independent country. One tries to draw parallels with other situations but there really is no model or example to work from. The tragedies of a “Scorched Earth Campaign”, political turmoil, violence, colonialism, occupation, forced famine, a resistance movement now a military, a first ever police force to introduce and enforce the new laws that are a patchwork of new laws; they seem to have seen it all here and in such a short period of time. The work of our partner La’o Hamutuk is to try and make some sense of all the intentions and actions of the international institutions present in the country by monitoring, analyzing and reporting on the issues relating to the physical, economic and social reconstruction and development of the country. We had so many questions and great conversations that it was hard to leave. But next we were off to visit the Timor Radio Station that was established in 1993 by
Development & Peace through the local Catholic Church during the occupation years. This has been fundamental in helping to create a voice for the people and provides an avenue for civic education programming. So much of what we take for granted in our country has been thrust upon people here in a very short time as the veil of terror and control lifts and people try to understand the new roles they play in creating a civil society. We proceeded to be the guests on today’s live cross country call in show. For an hour we responded to questions and conversed over the air with people which only ended after the producers cut us off so we would not miss our next appointment.
Off to meet the head of Political Policies for the UN mission in East Timor. More background and a better appreciation for the complexities involved in “everything”. From coordination of agencies, the politics of a foreign presence, to protocol and on and on it goes. There is no easy answer or short term plan that will make everything all right. Just as there is no logic in staying too long in a place where the people are working towards the goal of complete self reliance. We left with many conversations still going on and the vans were full of chatter about what we just learned. Trying to figure out if the glass was half full or half empty after a 12 year UN presence, is it working? Depends who you talk to. That question was soon answered in another manner. A trip to an orphanage was proof enough that some people can see a direct positive result for all the hard work and tireless energy they seem to have and with no politics involved. We met 51 kids who sang and danced and showed us around as if we were the toast of the town. What a delight and a perfect way to end an exhausting day by being around the youthful energy of tomorrow’s leaders.
PS: While meeting with the United Nations fellow today we were informed that the United Nations Security Council will pass a resoltion to extend its peacekeeping mission here for another 1-2 years.(though it officially had not occured yet as we are 17 hours ahead here) Their mandate was to run out this week, though there was no shred of evidence that anyone was packing their bags just yet.