Saturday, May 06, 2006

(East Timor Problems) Food for the animals

On Saturday morning we attended an AVI security briefing which included a talk by an Australian Embassy official who Daniel said reminded him of a character straight out of a John Le Carré novel (it didn’t help matters that Daniel was currently reading The Russia House!); and a United Nations security officer who was once an AVIer herself. The briefing allayed any residual concerns I had and engendered in me a much needed sense of calm. From then on, I was able to function normally again.

In the afternoon we went supermarket shopping and I purchased Meaty Bites dog food for our neighbour’s dog next door who they had left behind upon fleeing to Ainaro. It amuses me that in Timor, people value their roosters far more than their dogs for we have had rooster free sleeps since the mass evacuation of Dili while the neighbourhood has slowly been taken over by dogs. (Not being woken at 5am is one of the few good things to have come out of this whole sad sorry saga.) Unfortunately for the abandoned animals, there is little food to eat as normally they rummage through the rubbish produced by humans (and there aren't that many of them around).

We shared lunch with some fellow AVIs and I also talked to three Peace Corps volunteers who were very angry at being evacuated (see The overreaction of the Americans). At the end of our meal, I asked the restaurant owner for some left over scraps which I could feed the two pigs that our family had left caged without any food. As I was unsure when they would return, I wanted to make sure our little piggies were okay (one is an adult male and the other a juvenile).

However, we arrived home to find that Senyor Raphael had returned with a small number of our male neighbours. All the women and children remain in Bobonaro. We were very pleased to see Senyor again and he likewise seemed happy to see that we were still here. We told him that we would look after ourselves in terms of cleaning the house, washing and ironing our clothes but he insisted that this was his job now. Senyora Domingas had told him that if he didn’t do these tasks, he would shame the family, so no matter how much we argued with him he wouldn’t budge. We also asked him if he would like to join us for dinner which I think he was quite touched by, but said that he was cooking fish for himself and the small group of men who had returned.

It is quite humorous having a Timorese man do all our domestic chores for Timor is a deeply entrenched patriarchal society with a strongly gendered division of labour. I am so impressed with Senyor’s capabilities that I have a newfound respect for him.

I endeavored to find the neighbour’s dog but she was no where to be found. I hoped that she would be okay and would try to find her again the following day.

That night we watched the academy nominated film North Country which was very moving and highly commendable.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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