Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My one year anniversary

Today is my one year anniversary at my place of work (my one year anniversary in Timor was noted in Tropical North Queensland). It’s hard to believe that I actually made it this far: what with a breakdown, dengue fever, an armed battle in my neighbourhood between rival factions of the army, and being evacuated, all as a result of living here! Sometimes I wonder about my sanity but I certainly do not doubt my tenacity or resilience.

The thought of spending another year here however does not particularly fill me with enthusiasm. Apart from all the problems I have with living in Timor, now added to the mix is the political uncertainty and the fact that I fear that one day in the not too distant future, Timor could descend into a very bloody ethnic conflict which I do not wish to bear witness to.

It is very noticeable how the east/west divide has become cemented in the Timorese conscious. Before we were evacuated, we never heard any Timorese person speak disparagingly of people from the east or west, apart from the usual banter about how expensive women from Los Palos are! Now, we routinely hear (from taxi drivers, always a good barometer of how the average person thinks) how the country must be divided up and how the people from the east are murderers.

One colleague whose house was burnt down, on Sunday night experienced further destruction of her property when unknown persons destroyed most of the windows of her car. She told me that she and her husband were leaving Timor in two months to live in London. When I said for how long, she said, “maybe five years, I don’t know but Timor is no good and I cannot live here any longer.”

Another colleague has been living in the UN Obrigado Barracks IDP camp for two months. She fled there with her husband and two small children. The reason: she lived in an area of Dili which is mainly inhabited by those from the west and although she and her family of origin are also from the west, her husband is from the east and he is frightened to go on living in the area as he believes he will be killed. Thus they remain indefinite IDPs. Many people in Timor are married to people from the opposite side of the country and the children born of these unions are both east and west. How and where are they to live in an independent Timor?

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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