Over the years, all at Across the Timor Sea have been very impressed with how local Timor Lestè residents get together to build or repair buildings and various infrastructure; which will be very important with the extent of storm damage this year.
All this has been complicated by the COVID lock-down restrictions.
So when we received this photo of workers painting a classroom, we were delighted that it is so close to being used. We sincerely hope it wasn’t damaged during the monsoon storms and floods.
As supporting education has always been a priority for Across the Timor Sea, it is always pleasing for us to get updates regarding sponsored Students.
Especially since they have been dealing with so many hardships and challenges for many, many months. Not only COVID 19, but terrible monsoon and flood damage.
Jan was unable to travel to Timor Lestè in 2020 to update progress on Across the Timor Sea projects, and catch up with the many friends she has made there; and it looks like this year is going to be the same.
We so admire how people in Timor Lestè are managing; and especially so, after hearing about the progress of the 2019 Across the Timor Sea Graduating Students. They are a beaming example for other students.
We wish Oscar every success in his upcoming final exams; and hope that he is able continue with tertiary studies in Dili. (As have Jonia and Domingas.)
We also hope that Tim will be there to mentor these students. His guidance has really made a difference, and is so appreciated by us all at Across the Timor Sea.
Tim is such an extraordinary young man, who has been so helpful with Across the Timor Sea’s projects. We can’t say enough about the positive difference he has made.
The school Tim attended in Australia has had a long and supportive association with Timor Lestè; and after completing his Masters of Education he went to teach at St Francis of Assisi school, in Timor Lestè. The photographs and copies of student reports Tim sent us, enabled us to give valued feedback to Across the Timor Sea scholarship sponsors, which was greatly appreciated.
Whilst Tim was teaching at St Francis of Assisi, his Grandparents went there as well, to build a new laundry trough system. ~ A wonderful bonus for the school.
Even though Tim is now teaching in Dili, he has continued his association with St Francis, helping wherever he can. We also greatly appreciate his continued support of Across the Timor Sea projects in Ailalec.
In addition, he is mentoring former Across the Timor Sea students, who are now studying in Dili.
Tim’s support has enabled Across the Timor Sea to operate more effectively in Timor Lestè. His contacts, wisdom and advice have been so helpful and reassuring. His knowledge of Tetum has enabled us to communicate more fully with Ailalec Residents; and he can liaise for us when we are not there.
He is a very special person.
We are very thankful for support Tim has given us, in so many ways.
All at Across the Timor Sea have been increasingly concerned with news we are hearing from Timor Lestè. With the problems of dealing with COVID 19 being compounded by unusually destructive monsoon storms.
The Timor Lestè Government were being remarkable in dealing with the COVID 19 epidemic at first, however destructive storms, with associated mud slides, resulted in people having to flee to evacuation centres, where overcrowding was making self-isolation even more challenging, if not impossible. Those taking refuge with relatives or friends faced overcrowding as well.
The death and injury toll is devastating. Compounding this, many people have become homeless, and much infrastructure destroyed. People are saying it was much worse than ever before.
The stories of how some people have coped, is awe-inspiring.
Though we have not had the amount of contact with and information from Timor Lesté that we have in previous years, what we have heard is reassuring. The Timor Lesté Government has been very careful it their approach to handling the threat of COVID 19; and though the Across the Timor Sea students had to return to their home village, they only missed two months of schooling. All returned to school, ready to finish off the school year.
~ We are waiting to hear how they went in their exams.
It is inspiring for all at Across the Timor Sea when we get news of Jonia and Domingas, who are preparing to continue their second year of Tertiary studies in 2021. They were in the first group of Across the Timor Sea students to graduate from High School (in 1919).
We look forward to the start of the 2021 School year, when we will get more information about the progress of both groups of ‘Across the Timor Sea’ students.
At this time of year, as she has for the past 11 years, Jan would be travelling to Timor Lestè. Her goal is to have interaction with various contacts she has there, and monitor the progress of projects Across the Timor Sea had been undertaking. However, at the moment, Australians are banned from travelling overseas (unless exempted), so she is unable to go this year; and we are not sure how long the ban will be.
2020 has been a problematic year for many, especially in Timor Lestè. Already dealing with existing challenges, the Timor Lestè Government acted quickly to contain the first signs of COVID19. As of November 2020, there had been 30 cases, 0 deaths and 30 recovered. ~ A remarkable statistic.
News that we have from Timor Lestè is encouraging, as things seem to be returning to some semblance of ‘normal’. They are being very careful regarding COVID19 safety; and this is very reassuring to us.
The school year is coming to a close, and as we have always found communications between Timor Lestè difficult, we are still waiting to hear how 2020 has impacted fully on the Across the Timor Sea scholarship students. We do know there is no electricity in Ailalec; and as the students were unable to continue their studies during the COVID 19 emergency, they have missed two months of the school term.
Remembrance Day is a day for us to stop and reflect on the losses of war. We are urged to stop and reflect for one minute of silence at 11.00am, on 11 November, so we can remember those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
2020 has been a challenging year for all because of COVID restrictions. The usual format Remembrance Service in Australian War Memorial will be limited to invited guests only. The Ceremony will be televised however.
All at Across the Timor Sea will remember, especially at this time; and we also reflect how this spirit of care has been evident in Timor Lestè this year. They have been ‘challenged’ by so many problems, that would seem to us by any measure, overwhelming. COVID 19 being just one of them. It was their strong sense of community that got them through it all.
At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month ~
Across the Timor Sea has always primarily been focused on supporting Ailalec Village; and this led to the student scholarship program, which will always be our primary focus. However, being able to send Containers of donated goods has been an opportunity to help in so many other ways.
Computers, furniture, clothing, sewing machines, cottons and material are just a few of the variety of items that have been sent and greatly appreciated. In the last container, there were actually artificial limbs and other such equipment for the Dili Rehabilitation Centre, which will be put to great use. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of so many people.
Though rewarding, it has always been a very challenging process to get the container deliveries to Dili, and no more so than the last time. There was a chain of help, starting with Laurie Fisher, Coordinator Donations in Kind (DIK) Melbourne Victoria, who offered to include Across the Timor Sea’s goods in the Container he was sending to Dili. Then Jay Shaw Director of Ne Solution Perth, arranged for Adlam Transport Company to get the goods to Melbourne.
After the ship carrying the container left Melbourne Port, it went to Singapore, then Surabaya where it went into dry-dock for 6-8 weeks. By the time it reached Dili, Covid 19 restrictions hit. Everything was in lock-down.
Thankfully all the goods have now been delivered.
In one box, that was included in the last container sent, were children’s books, which we knew would be greatly appreciated. Across the Timor Sea was sent a photograph of them on display, ready for borrowing.
COVID 19 restrictions resulted in nearly all students in Timor Lestè having to return to their home village; and this was compounded by destructive monsoonal storms.
All at Across the Timor Sea were very concerned about the enormity of the problems. Also, how it would impact on students’ future academic progress.
However, we were reassured that with ‘isolation’ restrictions, the residents of Ailalec would be much safer there ~ isolated already, high in the mountains. So, we were gratified to receive the news that Across the Timor Sea scholarship students were safe and well; and were now able to return to school.