Back to… “normality”!
Due to heavy rains, caused by Tropical Cyclone Seroja, followed by others not so strong, but constant, our access path has become really impractical! We had to suspend our work and waited about 3 weeks until the mud dried and we were able to, fix it again; cover the holes with stones and put a layer of sand on top.
About a month ago, cases of covid started to increase in Timor, so that we have a daily average of 150 infected people, about . Almost the entire country was in lockdown and, until the date, died 9 people. The major concern of government authorities is the demand and strong pressure that communities put on to bury their dead., who died with covid, according to the usual cultural tradition, with funeral of the body during 2 days and after buried, followed by an authentic feast of “eat and drink” that extends, sometimes, by 6 or 7 dias, depending on the goods the deceased left behind!
throughout these 5 years old, in Timor, I understood that most Timorese families do not eat properly in order to have enough goats, sheep, cows, bois, buffaloes and dogs at this feast. Looks like a post-mortem competition, for every family is very careful to provide plenty of plenty on this occasion., because, according to tradition, the richer the banquet, the more honorable the deceased is considered to have been.…
another fight, that the authorities are stopping, is against the mentality of the Timorese community that considers this pandemic a political issue, or invention of rulers, on the one hand, and on the other hand, in popular belief, considering Timor “holy land”, where covid does not enter...
Two weeks ago we started work again with certain precautionary measures; mandatory swab test for each new team, before starting work, use of masks and “semi-social distancing” whenever possible…
Every measure gave me a lot of headaches, because initially of 7 workers, only 3 agreed to swab, while the rest refused out of fear. After the result is negative, others 3, after many explanations and encouragements, won, in part, the fear and accepted, also, take the test. Regarding the use of the mask, this is their Achilles heel. At first, I even warned them over and over again to use it. Imagine… I had just caught their attention., went out to do other work, when returning, just minutes later, what do you think?!? precisely this; they were again with the mask on their chin!!! I even asked them if they were afraid that their beard hairs would fall out…
As mentioned in a previous post, as our land is situated on the border of the two municipalities, Aileu and Ermera, we have a collective employment contract with the community of the village of Hlalameta, belonging to the Aileu municipality and another to the Sari village community, belonging to the municipality of Ermera.
Before starting our work we had several discussions, in the good sense, with members of the Hlalameta community, because given the fact that our land belongs to this village they wanted us to work only with them, due to a situation that had happened in the past, when some young people from this village looked for work in the neighboring municipality and were refused because they did not belong to it and were even “friendly advised” to look for work in their municipality. After clarifying that our project was not subsidized by the Timorese government and that our Foundation was fully supporting the investment, so it was up to us to decide who we wanted to work with and I informed them that our decision was made, giving opportunity to both communities, Likewise, to earn their daily bread.
I tried to sound out the possibility of forming a mixed team, with workers from both communities, but I came across a very categorical denial; there was no chance of them working together! We came to the conclusion that teams should be formed composed of workers, only from one community, in a rotating job 20 dias, followed by another team from the neighboring community.
Understanding the tribal way of functioning of these communities, I always tried to convey them, both to each other, that we were created by God as social human beings and not as lonely islands, because we need to understand our great need to get out of our selfishness, to socialize more, to strengthen bonds of friendship, to care more for those outside our family/community circle and who need our help!
I always hoped that the right time would come to try to make a new experience possible and it finally happened.! Two weeks ago it was Sari's team's turn to start work and after eight months I introduced, for the first time, in this team a worker from a mountain village, call aslimate, which borders the village of Hlalameta, because although we don't have a lot of work, I thought I would give some people from this community an opportunity to earn some bread too.
At the end of this team's first day of work, a person from the community of Hlalameta came to say that this worker could not work and made a huge racket, threatening and saying that no one could work on this project, in addition to these two communities with which I had signed the work agreement.
As I was not present that day, because I had a problem to deal with, the next day I called the person, aforementioned, to talk and after appealing to your conscience and understanding, without any results, because he still didn't accept, I found myself obliged to clarify that, for a while, who decided who should work was the Board of Directors of our Foundation and no one else…
I asked him if in the future he would make a team composed of workers from 3 villages, if he would agree to be part of this team and he replied, categorically, that did not accept.
Although it is quite a difficult and complicated challenge, I have a certain faith that, one day, with God's help, it will be possible , because only He is able to touch these poor souls immersed in their egocentrism and help them to begin to live in the disposition to understand, help and collaborate to solve the problems of others who are not from the same family and do not even belong to your circle of friends!
After a few days, I had the opportunity to meet this boy again and, again, I appealed to his understanding of the needs of the other and after a long time I was able to read in his eyes a small light of acceptance. When, at the end of our conversation, I asked him if he thought it fair that this man, married, com 4 children and a wife, in charge, would not have the right like him to earn bread for his family, just because he had the “misfortune” of being born in a different community?
After this argument I saw his face completely change and I told him that, at the end of the working day, I wanted to talk to the two. hours later, he came to me and said there was no need for us to talk anymore, because he no longer had any resentment against the other boy and that the problem was already solved. Thank you for your understanding and, once again, I enjoy the opportunity, before the entire work team, appealing to their humanism and sensitizing them to be more friendly, to help each other more and to be more supportive…
After finishing my little speach, I was glad to see the effect of the same on the faces, very serious, of my boys… it really was a very rewarding experience and I instantly thanked God for having touched the HARD consciences of these men!
As for the status of our works, we managed to fix the problem that the force of the water from the stream caused in the foundation of our protective wall and, happily, now it's more reinforced. I recovered, also, the electric pole and, this time, we placed it as far as possible from the bank of the stream, soldering you more 3 meters of pipe at the top to be taller and to make sure the electrical wire run, between the two posts, won't be so low.
Our next priority is to build, together with the community of the village of Hlalameta, a water tank, because as I pointed out in a previous article, lacks a lot of water, especially in the dry season, and as we have a hole with a good flow of water, I made them a proposal to build, together, a concrete tank for constant access to the much-needed water.