During August this year, Jan made her 10th visit to Timor Lesté. The primary goal of her visit was to follow up on ‘Across the Timor Sea’ projects. Her time there also coincided with the Timor Lesté Independence Celebration, which was particularly important as it was their 20th. Some of the visiting dignitaries for the celebrations were on the same flight from Darwin as Jan’s.
Marching Bands at the 20th Celebration.
August the 30th 2019 was the 20th Anniversary of the vote for Independence in Timor Lestè. This date is often compared to Australia Day in Australia.
1999 was the culmination of years of turmoil, in the fight for freedom. Approximately 78% of voters, knowing they were risking retaliation, voted for Independence.
Even though thousands of citizens were killed during that conflict, the choice was made not to seek retribution after this extremely difficult time. The Australian PM has said that Timor Lestè has shown the world how to overcome violence with peace.
About 80% of the infrastructure was destroyed during the turmoil, and there are burned out skeletons of buildings still evident. However, there has been much reconstruction in the past 20 years and this bodes well for the future.
Timor Lestè is a young country, in both years and population demographics. About 60% of the population are under the age of 25. Many at the 20th celebrations were too young to remember what happened before or during the vote (or yet born), however most families lost someone during that harrowing time, so memories are vivid and important.
One of these Independence Soldiers was a villager from Ailalec who made Jan feel so welcome when she first went into Ailalec. ~ He is a parent of Domingas Pereira, who is a senior Across the Timor Sea student.
Domingas’ father died a few years ago, from injuries that were a result of injuries inflicted during that troubled time ~ leaving a very young family of eight.
He was revered and is greatly missed.