Stopping in Bali just long enough for an overnight layover, we continue on our way to Dili in Timor-Leste. We're spending several days here as part of a team checking into potential humanitarian projects. We've never been south of the equator before. This is a new and exciting experience for both of us.
Our team consisted of Celestino Mac, a native of Timor-Leste and a member of the Church now living in Australia, Brent Daire of Australia, who served in the army in philanthropic work in Timor-Leste sortly after the conflict, and Elder Coffey and myself.
|Brent Daire (left) and Tino Mac - part of our exploratory team to Dili|
Dili is a small city with a population of nearly 200,000. Theoretically, it would only take 20 minutes to get from one end of town to the other. But that isn't going to happen today. The official speed limit is 25 mph, and its a good thing! Cars, bikes, motorcycles, dogs, chunks of concrete, construction and people create formidable barriers to smooth driving.
But everywhere, the people seem optimistic, hopeful, happy. There is a growing sense of nationalism and pride. For one, they are happy to be alive. Secondly, they are ecstatic to be free.
|Resistance Museum -|
Courtesy of Flikr.com/ Ellen Forsythe
We met with Dr. Dan Murphy of the Bairo Medical Clinic. Dr. Murphy arrived in Dili in 1999 and walked through the still-smoldering ashes of a country deeply entrenched
in brutal conflict. Finding an abandoned Indonesian clinic, he rummaged through the scattered items, found some bandages and other supplies, and opened his free clinic. Now a recipient of multiple international awards for his service, he continues his tireless work, seeing up to 300 patients, personally, each day.
|Patients sitting outside,|
waiting to be seen by Dr. Dan
|Dr. Dan Murphy of the Bairo Pite Clinic|
|Palmira Pires, director of ETDA, with the exploratory team|
|Tino Mac standing with students learning how to cook.|
Everyone we spoke to had a story. Some fled Timor-Leste as babies with their families. Some were born abroad and heard their story from the older generation. Some have never been found.
|Santa Cruz Cemetery, the site of the massacre that changed the tide of the war.|
But many who survived are coming back. And they are rebuilding their country. Hundreds of non-government organizations are there helping. We hope LDS Charities can help in some way too.
Here is Dili!
|Weaving the traditional tais cloth|
|There are too many to fit inside, so they just hang onto the doors and enjoy the ride!|
|At the Tais Market - with local woven goods|
The need is huge. We met great humanitarian partners for future projects. The work is great. And the people are full of smiles.
|Courtesy of Flikr.com/Kate B. Dixon|