East Timor Prefect Trip Reflection
Myself and 16 other Prefects travelled to East Timor for 10 days. We spent 7 of these days in a small village called Viqueque, 183 km south- East of Dili, which took us about 7 hours on a bumpy road, and what seemed like, never ending road works!
Whilst in Viqueque, we stayed in the Christian College accommodation centre. The moment we drove through the gates kids came running from all directions knowing full well that the Christian College students were in town. I spent what felt like 2 seconds grabbing my suitcase and tossing it into the closest bed I could find, and then running out the door to play with the kids.
We arrived around 6:30pm, so we headed straight to the local restaurant for dinner. On the walk to the restaurant, myself and another Prefect, Montana, were having 'piggy back' races and twirling around with some of the local kids on our backs. This lasted for a maximum of 5 minutes, however once we reached the restaurant, the girl who was on my back gave me the only copper, old, green bracelet that was on her skinny little arms to me. This touched me so much, she had nothing, her clothes had holes in them, her teeth were yellow and she had only known me for 5 minutes, but she still found something to give to me. The compassion and selflessness of these Timorese surprised me and inspired me liked nothing else ever has.
One of my favourite places in Viqueque would have to be the Market Place. Children would gather and play while their parents would sell produce. Many of the times we were there it rained and the elders would invite us into their huts. Here we would sing to the children, singing songs like Heads and Shoulders Knees and Toes and Father Abraham. They would also sing to us, I don’t think there is a better sound than 30 Timorese children singing as loudly and as proudly as they could! Again, the compassion and selflessness of the Timorese shone, I don’t know how many Australian people would invite 22 foreigners into their stall, when they are trying to sell produce?!
We also visited many schools. The children in some of these schools were learning 4 languages from the age of 6. They were inspired to rise above their situation and educate themselves. Christian College also run a Friendship House, where students come for additional English lessons, on top of their schooling hours.
In the future, I wish to pursue a career as a doctor. The doctor on our trip helped inspire me to further my passion in giving aid in developing nations, by setting up clinics and hospital trips for me and home visits to patients with infectious diseases. The lack of facilities and resources shocked me and made me angry. Simple things such as 'TB shots' for family members of infected individuals, to reduce the spread, weren’t administered even when offered to be paid for by Australians, due to a lack of availability of resources. Simple things like this we take for granted in Australia.
Now that I'm back from East Timor, I really believe that this experience is a very important one for young people to have. We all put too much importance on material 'things' and what everyone else has that we don’t. In Timor, there appears to be no self-esteem problems, because they don't compare themselves with their neighbours. We need to be more like this. I would definitely encourage everyone to go to East Timor for what will be an incredible experience.
Christian College Captain