Now back at home in Canada the question we are asked by others is; “How was it? Was it beautiful? What was the best part? Sum it up for me.” Well how do you go about doing that?
Where does one begin to sum up an experience such as our recent Solidarity Trip to Timor Leste (East Timor)? This has been on many of our minds both during the last few days within the country and the week now following our trip. Though its necessary to be well prepared before such a trip and read as much as you can about the country’s history and its current affairs, it does not fully prepare you for what they are about to experience. Your first impressions might surprise you from what you were expecting and your understanding of the people’s mood or sentiment is just impossible to grasp before hand. During the 2 weeks our Development and Peace delegation was in Timor Leste, one of the sentiments
that kept coming to us was how proud we were to be Canadian Catholics representing this great organization, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. How welcome we felt everywhere we went and how real the sincerity was from the organizations and their people thanking us for our support and for coming to their country. This was from the heart.
The Catholic Church has played such a big role in this country’s history and continues to be an anchor of the society. Witnessing this first hand granted us an insight in how this country will continue to grow and gain it’s national confidence. It takes time for a people to gain an appreciation for being their own catalyst in setting the course for their future while simultaneously trying to deal with past that continues to haunt them. We were fortunate to see many examples of how groups are working at this from different angles but all with an equal passion. The people were certainly ready for the work that lays ahead. It was interesting to talk to so many people and for the conversation to naturally be about one aspect or another regarding Timor Leste. It seemed the last thing on their minds was what our country was like. There was never any question nor desire by those that we met about a future outside of their country. This was not a place where one got the impression that people are eager to leave. The country we were introduced to was a proud and new nation with a troubling past, and with an equally hopeful future.
This future was what we were most concerned for as we sat around a table in Bali contemplating what we just experienced. Our hearts too had quickly become concerned for their future. What will happen when the United Nations and the other international organizations now present start to leave? Will the country be ready to pick up all the pieces?
We sure hope so and are encouraged by what Development and Peace has nurtured here in the way of supporting the groups we have. Helping to build the confidence of a very young population, building the skill sets needed in the rebuilding of lives, communities, governments and society at large.
This is a mighty challenge to all the people and we are grateful to be part of it in a small way. We all committed to each other to raise the awareness of Timor Leste back in Canada and to continue to raise more funds to support this country and the many others that benefit from Development and Peace.
We will not only raise the issues but stand beside the beautiful people of Timor Leste (East Timor) in their struggles. In solidarity with them and their dreams for a brighter future.
A future they have longed for, fought for and are now working for.