Written by Max R. Hungerbuehler
On July 9, 2016 I arrived back in Dili full of expectations in respect of what would have changed during the 10 months since my last stay in this fascinating country. The first impression was “not much”. However during my sojourn of seven days I had to find out that this was not correct.
The meeting with the new bishop of Dili, Virgilio do Carmo da Silva was the first positive experience. Even though I had been told by SCOPE ASIA-CEO Barbara Lietz a lot of good things about this new dignitary I was impressed by his down to earth attitude and his understanding of the needs of the people in his diocese. One of the topics which were discussed was the financial problems of the catholic schools due to the reorganization of the subsidies from the state. A situation that is causing concern and which is a matter that our foundation will be trying to assist to solve.
During my first visit I had the opportunity to visit the girl-school run by the Canossa-sisters in Ermera. Apart from teaching they also have the older students helping to prepare bread not only for the need of the about 40 pupils but also for sale to the people of the village. This way some money is being generated to buy books and other things important for the running of the school. It was then mentioned to me that they would be able to produce a lot more of the very tasty bread if they only had a proper mixer to prepare the dough. Meanwhile such a machine has been organized with the assistance of our foundation and now four times the amount of bread is being made and a jobless man has been engaged to do and supervise the production. Additional funds are herewith being generated which will make it possible for the sisters to soon invest into a proper oven to replace the household-grills that are presently being used for the baking. A good example for the slogan of the Timor Foundation reading “to help the people to help themselves”.
This time in Timor-Leste I was given the opportunity to visit to the flagship-province Oe-cusse. The main town which carries the same name as the province is one big construction-site. Starting from the new airstrip at the small airport over the many new four-lane roads that run through town to the recently completed Tono Arch bridge and the state of the art hospital as well as the many old buildings under restoration there is an incredible lot of construction going on. Impressive!
During the meeting with the provincial president, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, whom I had already met in Switzerland during his trip in January this year, I was explained that the aim is to create a showpiece province that then should serve as an model for the rest of the country.
Whilst in Oe-cusse and also back in Dili I had the opportunity to get together with various important personalities, so amongst others naturally also with our president Dr. José Ramos Horta and with the famous Canossa-sister Guilhermina. She presented me the new watershop at her school that our Timor Foundation has financed. It will go into operation within shortly and supply clean water to the more than 4000 pupils and their families.
To finish off this report I should like to thank Barbara Lietz and her local assistants Dahlia Bernardo and Januario Carvalho for the excellent organization of my visit. The sojourn in Timor-Leste has again been an experience to remember.