I have just received an email from Jorge, my translator when I started working in Timor Leste (East Timor), who then transformed himself into an excellent trainer. He writes:
I have just returned from Lequidoe sub district (Aileu), the first place where the 100 Friendly Schools project was piloted. I found no more signs of the 1999 destruction with roofless houses and burnt out schools . I met a healthy young generation with happy faces, motivated, better educated who seem ambitious to take over development from the older people in this particular area.
They enjoy electricity in their villages, own motorbikes and trucks, new buildings, new facilities, new dresses, new and qualified teachers and much more…..
A reminder of what 1999 was like..
“Militia set fire to my house on September 1999. I evacuated to Atambua with my parents. We lived in a refugee camp in Soskoe with many other people. I went back to East Timor with my mother”.
Junito Emilio Soares, “Through the eyes of the Children”- UNICEF.
and the hope for the future:
“We believe , the young people who have defended this country have the strength and ability for this very important task. With love and devotion we will succeed in rebuilding our nation from ashes and create a better future that is full of peace, freedom,democracy and justice”.
Joanita Moreira da Silva, “Through the eyes of the children”.UNICEF.
Although it has taken more than 14 years to reach this point, we are all hoping that some stability in the country will provide the economic development that can unite the different factions and maintain the progress outlined by Jorge.
Click on p.10 to get some idea of how the schools looked after the militia had stolen everything and then set fire to the schools to ensure the new nation started with nothing but their determination.
This page is from the 100 Schools Booklet ( designed by Shakun Harris and published by UNICEF) and other pages illustrate the re-building of the education system. Most teachers had left the country (they were Indonesian) and so volunteers came ‘from the rice fields into the classroom’ and were enthusuastic learners.
Our first workshops together produced a wealth of learning aids (from whatever we could find, whether it was an old flip flop to a local adhesive that is found in a tree) and enthusiastic new teachers. Jorge came into his own when he offered to run a session at a workshop and was so well prepared and capable that there was no doubting his future as a trainer.
You can see Jorge at the bottom of page 14
Timor Leste continues to rise……