I remember my childhood with great nostalgia, watching the Timorese children play and their toys.
The families, in Timor-Leste, are numerous and older children begin to feel, very early, the hard of life, the weight of responsibility when contributing to housework.
Despite the daily tasks assigned to you (take care of animals, clean the spaces where they sleep, to wash dishes, gather firewood, cook…), no moment is wasted.
So many times, good in the morning, I come across children (some more grown up, others not so), loading water bottles, bundles with firewood (making a little parentheses, to food, on here, it is mostly made with firewood…as most Timorese are poor and cannot afford to buy a gas stove and even if they had the resources they would not want to, not even, hear about cooking with gas, because there have been accidents in the past with some gas cylinders, due to misuse, and that's why not even the richest have overcome this fear, continuing to use, still, oil stoves, to “the old…”), some sell, door to door, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, etc.
every morning, often, we woke up to the sound, very shrill, of two children, barefoot, skinny and sunburned, that advertise the sale of their cakes, tofu frito, tempe, etc.
Once, a Timorese friend told me something about his troubled childhood. Due to the difficulties that her parents had in securing the necessary food, of each day, for them and their four children, he, seeing that they could barely handle the message, to lighten their burden, decided, with your 9 years old, leave home to live with uncles, who agreed to give him a place to sleep and food, in exchange for your work to help them with their household chores.
impressed me, even a lot, when you told me that, your day started at 4 dawn hours with the first task when pushing, for a few kilometers, a cuddle full of plastic bottles to bring the so essential water for household needs. Around 6 hours, when your uncles used to get up, the water tank should be full and, right after, hardly any time to catch your breath, I should go cut a lot of branches, of some very tall trees, to feed the cows and goats, of your uncles. one hour later, as usual, hurriedly ate his little plate of rice and, immediately, should change clothes, wear your uniform, grab your backpack and head to school, about a good few miles and of course; a pé! Perhaps you think that these sad events are realities that go back to a very distant past., of grandparents or great-grandparents, but surprisingly it just happened 15 years ago!
Like this story, there are many others… of children who see each other, regularly on the street, taking care of their little brothers and sisters and even carrying them on their lap and back, with a lot of effort, but with a lot of affection and dedication…something really extraordinary and moving!
have fun, really, to see my landlord's eldest grandchildren who, before sweeping the space around the house and collecting the dry leaves for a wheelbarrow, carry with their little brothers inside it and play time without end, letting out innocent, contagious laughs…
They don't have dozens of toys, like the children of the west, because parents don't have the money to buy them, however you can easily see on their faces the joy of enjoying their only toy, compared to those who have “lots” of them and get bored, of each new toy received, few days later...
this reality, helps them to develop their creativity, because they build their toys with plastic bottles, cans, used motorcycle tires, bicycle wheels... anyway, authentic artists!
Here are some copies:
We know that the day will come when we will have to say goodbye to Timor, but, surely, we will take with us, in the heart, a piece of this little world, remembering with nostalgia the good times we had here and especially the innocent and singular smile of these wonderful children…
there is no doubt that: “The best in the world are children”, as stated by Fernando Pessoa.