15th Anniversary of Independence for Timor-Leste

Today the Christian College Bellarine community came together to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Independence for the second-newest nation on Earth: Timor-Leste. Service men and women from our country, Australia, helped the Timorese to independence in 2002, and also during short periods of civil unrest after that. Now, people from Geelong support our friends in Viqueque. Christian College has steadfastly supported this community for most of their independence. We are now proud, and yet humbled, to have developed strong friendships in Viqueque.

Today, the Timorese actually call this day their restoration of Independence Day, because they won independence for nine short days at the end of 1975.

Timor-Leste was governed by Portugal for 500 years, and then occupied by Indonesia for 24 years. So it was with real passion that the Timorese embraced their current independence in 2002. This freedom was won with the lives of one third of its population. One third of the people today live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nobody was untouched by their battle for independence.

As the students listened to the national anthem of Timor-Leste, they appreciated the power of the Timorese people’s patriotism. Jo Hall (school captain) and Andrew Agar raised the Timorese flag. Then the Project Care Representatives came forward and placed a tais around the flagpole. These handwoven tais are symbolic of the strong culture of Timor-Leste.

A beautiful and fitting conclusion to the ceremony was Mr Jorge Viegas, our very own Portuguese staff member, reading a prayer of thankfulness and mindfulness in Portuguese.

Students got right behind the Project Care Day by buying handcrafts and coffee. All proceeds will support the community of Viqueque. English-Tetun dictionaries will be purchased for the students who attend the 'Friendship House' English program in Viqueque. The students were able to raise in excess of $3000 today, and we have over 70 friendship bands to send to our friends in Timor-Leste.

Obrigada barak. Thanks very much.

Deb Singleton
East Timor Liaison Officer


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