Zulmira Fonseca C. Amaral (2013)

A Short Reflection on SCM Mission Visit to Timor Leste

July 2013


First I would like to thank the opportunity given by the SCM Australia to me joined the team for this visit. It has given me first the opportunity to make new friends in Australia and learned from them. Not to mention (mana) Ann Ang and Dr. Helen Hill, these new friends are: Christine, Daniel, Brigida and Aidan. It has also given me more opportunity to realize that SCM has been existed in Timor Leste for long time. I got chance to meet the Timor SCM members in Dili: (brothers and sister) Francisco Soares, Antonio da Silva, Andereas Kiriati, Marcelino Moreira, Ady Pinto, Carlito Alves, Francisco de Vas Concelho and Bemvinda Pinto whom I was never met before, if not because of the existing of this organization in my home country.

Two main important activities I would like to describe here with Timor SCM. First, we had dinner together in a restaurant in the inner city. Each of us shared our experience involving in SCM both Australia and Timor Leste. The second was meeting at the SCM secretariat in Comoro, Dili. Francisco Soares on his power point presentation shows that Timor SCM has done a lot of social activities, in Dili and in Baucau district. He shared the progresses, but also pointed out some difficulties that need to be addressed together. He mentioned that Timor SCM needs a person to work part time to manage the program. He also mentioned that Timor SCM needs to recruit new members, but he questioned: what is the best strategy to make them not to leave the group? This was that because in the past there were a lot of people joined Timor SCM but many of them left the group. Francisco and other members are working harder to initiate some activities to make the group function again as before. They need help from us. From these barriers, my suggestion for the next visitors to Timor to think about any possibilities of sharing experience about how a volunteer organization like SCM Australia or developing or under developed countries keep their members for long period. Apart from providing interesting programs what are the internal motivations they have that makes them stay in touched with SCM for long period.

Francisco Soares’s idea about some activities to do for his community. One time Francisco shared to me that he is interested to do some social activities with youth in Atauro for his community. One of the activities he mentioned is education. I shared him about the YWCA education planning programs which I also part of this group. Each member is to organize children in their own village once or twice a week read story books, help the children read and write. The YMCA in Timor Leste does the same activity which they found it very helpful. From this they could invite the community to involve in their group and discuss what best to do for their community. Another program is about friendship schools program, where some primary schools in Timor built relationship with some primary schools in Australia exchanged their drawing and stories. This is normally organized within the school level but, we could suggest for schools, community and youth to work together. Franscisco is interested on these activities and asked if SCM Australia could help ask some schools in Australia that interested to build relationship with the primary schools in Atauro. It is open for other suggestions from us; he will take into consideration.

Two days attended Food Conference in Dili. This visit was also helped facilitated me attended this important conference. I did my presentation for this conference about a research I conducted last year on horticulture greenhouse project established by USAID in the Aileu District, one of the district of Timor Leste. The conference was participated by more than 200 participants. As a Timorese I found that all the topics presented from the majority of local with some international presenters are very useful and important for the development of Timor Leste. As most of the participants and presenters were Timore, the language used during the conference mainly Tetun. The direct translation from Tetun into English was not always covered the whole processes, it is no doubt to say that the non Timorese and/or the Diaspora Timorese must found it very frustrated. But I appreciate my friends Christine, Daniel, Brigida and Aidan able to cope during these two long days conference. Another story I would like to share. One day I took four of them to the National University of Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL). We attended a seminar held by the Community Development Lecturers and Students. Again, the whole presentation was held in Tetun. Aidan was sat next to me on the second line of the front chair and the other sat at the third line at the back close to the door way out. I was really enjoyed that seminar as the topic was about communities views of development in Timor Leste which this is the key area of my Community Development Study. As I was over exited listening to one presentation after another, I wasn’t’ realized whether my non Timorese friends get some benefits out from this seminar or not. As we sat there almost one hour; suddenly a text message came to my phone “from Daniel” said: Mira we gonna go, we don’t understand any words. I said to Aidan: Daniel wants to go. Aden stood up and they all went out. A few days after they left Dili to Australia I started to realize that my interest have brought about unfairness to my friends. Although they never complain to me, nevertheless, this fault and opportunity have given me a chance to describe in written words of the difficulties I have faced before and then during working with the non native in my home country. But, although we faced many difficulties during these 9 days of their presence in Dili, they appreciated many advantages they have picked up from their observation skills. This is something I have learned from them that I should do if I am to be one of the visitors in other countries in the future if I cannot speak the local language.

We also visited other interesting and important places in Dili I never visited before. We visited ASSERT. From this I understood how hard working ASSERT provided to help the disable people from babies, young people, adults and elders, and promote for their right for health, education, training and employment, as well as their right to access roads and buildings. This special visit has brought me to the real life experience of my study of social policy subject in VU. I could able to reflect my country’s infrastructure system; especially roads and building that are not reflected the inclusiveness of all societies and the importance of welfare programs and services for the society. Another visit was to CAVR office. The pictures and the written history on the walls remind me of the brutalities I have seen during the Indonesian time. Our visit to both Indonesian and Timorese cemeteries of Santa Cruz, was my first time to stood inside the Indonesian military cemetery, where I was very scared before even just to see from far distance.

Lastly, my special thank to Ann Ang who shows her dedication organized this trip, especially for her patience woke up almost the whole night booked a very cheaper ticket for my son which I had never experienced before. My thank also goes to Dr Helen Hill, Pierre Blaise KAZBA and Meaza Abetew who introduced me to VUSCM. My special thanks also go to Francisco Soares Timor SCM who was a driving force for these activities in Dili. I should acknowledge specially for his helped for me dropped and picked me with his lovely motorbike.