Experiences teaching and working in Timor-Leste

11.07.2017
Written by Konstantin Kern

During my time in Timor-Leste I stayed at the East Timor Development Agency (ETDA), a training center that focuses on English language studies, hospitality and tourism schooling and other business skills. First off I would like to give my thanks to the staff at the ETDA, who welcomed me with open arms and made my stay all the more enjoyable. Over the time of my stay I also taught two english courses here — Intermediate English and English for Tourism — and even though I hadn’t expected to be teaching English in Timor-Leste at all, I have to say that it was a wonderful experience.

Right off the bat I encountered cultural differences to the European school system — Many students weren’t used to an interactive teaching style and very few were comfortable giving answers openly. After those barriers were slowly lowered, I found that many of them knew the right answers, but were afraid of making mistakes and kept quiet out of fear that I might scold them if they did. A notion that was completely foreign to me, but as I was told later by the staff, this is still a relic of the Indonesian school system, where scolding and calling the students out in front of their peers was common practice.

In my English Intermediate course I was very positively surprised by how well some students could already converse — well enough that we would often talk about daily news or weekend activities before class. The curriculum wasn’t easy, but we forged ahead together and managed to make sense of all the complicated tenses, sentence structures and difficult vocabulary. In the end we even read and analyzed speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy that might have given some native speakers trouble. The English for Tourism course was another story altogether — not bad, but entirely different. While my Intermediate class was comprised of only seven students, the Tourism class had exponentially more… almost literally — 43 Students with very different levels of english knowledge. At first, it presented quite a challenge to overcome the obvious language barrier and find a common ground to teach in a way that all students were engaged, but with the help of pictures and vocabulary games this hurdle became much easier to overcome. The curriculum had to be adjusted to better match the students prior knowledge and I had to get creative and try to engage the students in different ways, such as conducting small role-play exercises to practice pronunciation and expose them to simple conversation, but it worked. We may not have made them into native speakers in this short timespan, but I do think that they learned quite a bit and have been encouraged to use their english skills more freely and without being afraid of making mistakes.

When I wasn’t teaching, I worked on investment plans, presentation materials and a number of marketing activities for the Timor Foundation’s water solution projects as well as a fundraising focused short-film. I also accompanied Ms. Barbara Lietz and her team to the locations of two planned water cleaning facilities and was given first hand insight into the immense amount of preparation and planning required to bring clean drinkable water to even the most remote places, where many people still live without electricity and running water. Everything I had learned about the culture and people presented itself as very useful when I was asked to create a print advertisement for private-use water filtration systems, in cooperation with Scope Asia Timor and Trunz Water Systems AG. Knowing what to focus on and how to bring the message across in an accessible and engaging way — much like I had been doing in my English courses — were key in reaching the Timorese target audience creating a successful campaign.

Teaching such a diverse group of students, working on such a wide variety of projects and especially overcoming language and cultural barriers has been a very valuable experience and certainly not one that I will soon forget. Once again, thank you to the Timor Foundation for giving me this opportunity, as well as ETDA and its staff and also my students who all made my time here so enjoyable!

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Impressions from an Intern

22.06.2017
Written by Konstantin Kern

When I told my friends that I would be going to Timor-Leste for two months to work for an NGO all of them asked me the same two questions: “Where is Timor-Leste?” instantly followed by “why go there?” Well, I can’t name just one reason, but after graduating with my bachelors degree in business administration from the University of Mannheim, I knew that before continuing my studies I had to get out of my comfort zone and do something new. I had to do something meaningful and finally put all that theoretical knowledge to good use. Having grown up in the United States and Germany and having had plenty of opportunity to travel in my childhood, I’ve always been eager to discover new places. Needless to say, when I found out about the Timor Foundation and its engagement here, I was instantly hooked.

Before coming to Timor-Leste I had read about the young country’s tragic, but also inspiring history and its fast progress towards becoming a modern and open democratic society.
Of course, Timor-Leste is still very much a developing country — most of the population living below the absolute poverty level, staggering rates of unemployment among young people and many without access to clean drinking water — however, there is an undeniable desire by the people to learn and educate themselves, to lift themselves out of poverty and strive to improve their life and their country.

Working in Timor-Leste is not without challenges however. While there is immense potential in this country to be tapped into, there is still a severe knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. School education is nowhere near European standards and professional expertise is still very limited. There are organizations such as the East Timor Development Agency (ETDA) in Dili and Fatumaca near Baucau that are doing a wonderful job in providing education and training to young people and fostering a pragmatic learning environment for their students, but unfortunately only very few have the chance to take advantage of these opportunities.
Education and health go hand in hand, building the basis for any country’s development and the Timor Foundation is working hard to support these education facilities with clean water solutions and technical expertise to accomplish the common goal of furthering Timor-Leste’s economical and social development.
In addition to the lack in education there is also a vastly different perception of time and urgency in the Timorese culture — I soon found out that Tetun, the language of the Timorese, doesn’t distinguish between the past, present or future. “Time is money” and “communication is key” might be accepted mindsets in most developed countries, but they haven’t quite made it to Timor-Leste yet. Waiting and absence of notification are common place and widely accepted in most parts of society. As you might imagine, working in an environment that doesn’t regard time as definite and merely sees punctuality as a suggestion presents quite a challenge to the efficient operation of business. That being said, there is a visible change in attitude with younger generations adapting to the European business standards and the teams of the Timor Foundation as well as Scope Asia Timor do a great job navigating this disparity in culture and mindset.

In my time here I was also fortunate enough to be given the chance to explore the rural areas of Timor-Leste and often found myself captivated by the country’s intense natural beauty. While traveling to Fatumaca near Baucau and to a remote mountain school in the Ermera subdistrict of Lete-Foho the scenery could not have been more contrasting. From long sand beaches, past lushes wide open rice fields, across high mountain ranges and through dense tropical forests, to rugged cliffs giving way to the smooth serenity of the ocean, this small country boasts a staggering amount of natural diversity, quickly posing the question why there is only very limited tourism. The answer became apparent just as rapidly — there is a severe lack of infrastructure and basic amenities anywhere outside of the larger cities. Many mountain villages still don’t have access to electricity and the availability of clean drinking water is very limited, even in form of bottled water. There is however an active effort to build roads and modernize existing infrastructure including the water supply systems, where the Timor-Foundation and Scope Asia Timor are already contributing with a large number of clean water solution pilot projects using machines from Trunz water systems in Switzerland to bring clean drinking water to the taps of offices, schools and hospitals and to their surrounding communities. With the current investments by the Timorese government and the many international institutions aiding the country, its not a long shot to think that Timor-Leste will become an attractive tourist destination and a vibrant prospering nation given just a few more years. 

Having spent almost two months giving english courses at the ETDA and working for the Timor Foundation and with Scope Asia Timor on a multitude of different projects, I was astounded time and time again by the kindness and appreciation the people showed towards us and our work. I am convinced that Timor-Leste will continue maturing into a progressive, thriving nation.
Coming to Timor-Leste has been an eye-opening experience in many ways and I am both proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to become a part of this ambitious endeavor. 

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Protocol of the Primary School, Lacau, Lete-Foho

18.06.2017
Written by Konstantin Kern

The Lacau Primary School in the Lete-Foho subdistrict of Ermera, Timor-Leste is located in one of the most remote places imaginable — on a lonely mountainside facing into a deep valley, with only a weathered dirt road connecting it to the surrounding encampments (calling them villages would be an overstatement). Lete-Foho is the closest village to the school, but even driving by car it takes a good 45 minutes to reach it. 

The school doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, electricity or basic sanitation.
While there is a water tank which is fed by a water source slightly further up the mountain, this water isn’t filtered or even boiled and thus poses a serious health concern to anyone consuming it — which the children studying at the school and most people in the community do on a daily basis.
While the children are given lunch every day, they are currently subjected to the contaminated drinking water every day without a feasible alternative, as bottled water is only very scarcely available.
In addition to this, since there is no access to electricity, meals are prepared using a “traditional” kitchen — cooking over an open fire. Cooking is such a way is not only harmful to the long-term health of the children due to the smoke and fumes being inhaled, but there is also a considerable fire risk given that many structures are made primarily of wood.
Not having any electricity also means that the school can only operate during strong daylight, as with no electric lighting they are entirely dependent on the sun to provide enough visibility in the already dark classrooms.
Electricity will also be required for the Trunz water machine to function since the water will need to be pumped up during the dry season.
Not only does the school lack the basic amenities of clean water and electricity, but there is also a severe lack in hygiene standards. There are toilets at the school, but there is no running water to flush these toilets and the water basin used to clean the user and the toilet can hardly be considered sanitary. With a water machine and a modernization of plumbing systems this issue can also be resolved, however it is likely that a second or larger water machine may be required.

All of these factors pose a serious health risk to the 243 children and teachers studying and working there, as well as the community which is largely dependent on its drinking water from the same source. In order to bring this school and community into the 21st century all three of theres factors need to be addressed in a consolidated project — each factor being interlinked with the others.

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Water installation EDTA (East Timor Development Agency)

07.06.2017
Written by Timor Foundation

A further step in the direction of a Timor Leste with clean water is done.
This spring EDTA got a donation of water filters produced by Trunz Watere Systems. With the aid of this filters the whole compound is appointed with clean drinking water. 

After 2 months of active use by the staff and customers, the water from the filters has been highly praised for it's qualities and besides the water expenses has been significantly reduced. The customers and staff are really happy with the water quality.

Timor Foundation promotes Vocational Training as a bases for young Timorese people to ensure their future. Our Goal is to capacitate VET in Timor-Leste according to Swiss dual model for hospitality industry as a first step.

Click here for more information...

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Impressions of Timor-Leste from a young Swiss girl - March 2017

12.04.2017
Written by Anika Schindel

If you believe in the legend, Timor-Leste is the result between the friendship of a crocodile and a little boy. After travelling the oceans for years, the crocodile said to the boy, "Brother, we have travelled for a long time. But now the time has come for me to die. In memory of your kindness, I will turn myself into a beautiful island, where you and your children can live." As the crocodile died, he grew and grew, and his rigid back became the mountains and his scales the hills of Timor.
As impressive as this legend is, so has the history of Timor-Leste been. In 2002, after years of Indonesian occupation, Timor-Leste finally became the first new sovereign state in the 21th century. And if you haven't heard something about this young country, I hope you will keep it in mind after my following words:

I get the fortune to get in touch with this beautiful land through Timor Foundation.
One year ago, I met Barbara Lietz, the CEO of the Foundation in St.Gallen, Switzerland. With her enthusiasm, she immediately convinced me about her work and her good deeds for the people there. This March I said goodbye to Switzerland and started my journey to Timor-Leste. It definitely was a worth trip...
 
When I arrived there, I was overwhelmed. On the one hand I was impressed how colorful the nature was; on the other hand I was shocked about the people's living standards.
I guess I have never seen as beautiful sundowns as in Timor-Leste not to mention the quiet beaches and bays. I often asked me "Why are there no more tourists? ". But I'm not surprised about it; Timor-Leste firstly has to look after itself and its people before it is ready to become well-known for tourists. And honestly, shouldn't we be happy to still have a land like Timor-Leste on our planet, which provides such an opulent nature and strong inhabitants without being infected by the mass tourism?
Nevertheless, I'm sure that in the near future also the travelers will explore this country and they for sure will be impressed… However, until then we should help the Timorese people to help themselves. And that is exactly the point where the Timor Foundation draw on.
 
During my time in Timor I gained several insights into the work of Barbara Lietz and her team. One of their main goals is to ensure that more and more people have access to clean and uncontaminated water. Therefore, we travelled to Atabae, a village close to the Indonesian boarder, in the middle of the rice fields. Atabae has more than 200 households, each family more than 6 children, and there is one primary school. Nowadays they just have a 6 m3 water hole in one of their rice fields (take a look at the pictures below). Although this water is unsalted it contains a lot of bacteria and viruses, not fresh and not useable to drink for the population. Nevertheless, the 2'000 people in the village drink it every day - the cause of many health problems.
With the cooperation of Trunz Water Systems from Switzerland, Timor Foundation is able to change this situation and to improve the living standard for the people in this area a lot.
 
With just one water machine, there are able to clean more than 4'000 liters of water per day. Not only families benefit from this improvement but also the school and its 245 students.
In the following weeks, Timor Foundation and its cooperation partner Scope Asia Timor will install more water machines from Trunz Water Systems in hospitals, schools and remote areas all over Timor-Leste.
Like in Canossa Comoro, the water shop which supports the school and the community with 8’000 liters of water per day.
This not only improves the health situation but also generates new jobs and stimulates the economy.
 
Timor Foundation and Scope Asia start the work in an environment with challenges, where people need support mostly to help themselves. And during my stay I experienced, that this state has his own time and his own language. You don't find the words "Thank you", "No" or "Forgive me". They are not necessary, because the Timorese have their special way to accept life. They always live in the presence and never in the past (read more about the history of Timor-Leste here)
Furthermore, in Timor-Leste, you will find not only the necessary resources, but also strong people, which are willing to improve themselves and take the chance to develop their country into a well-known pearl in South Asia.
 
I decided for myself, that I will continue my work for the Timor Foundation and Scope Asia here in Switzerland; it is my contribution to this unique country with challenges, tasks and chances everywhere, but also with its beautiful landscape and strong inhabitants. And if I just can put a smile on one Timorese’s face, it is worth all the work and effort.

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Christmas wishes from a Timorese woman, Dahlia Guterres Bernardo

15.12.2016
Belonging to the young generation of Timor leste, I believe that we posses the creativity in many different ways. What we need are some people who can support us and show us the way on how to develop our own creativity, ideas, and capacity: as a developing country we have a chance to learn, achieve and prove to ourselves, our Nation, and other Countries that we can do this.

It has been almost 2 years since I met the CEO of Timor Foundation, Ms. Barbara Lietz. She introduced me to the Foundation and how she runs it: helping people to help themselves. From that time, I knew I would work with her because we share the same vision, that is do something for my people, my Country. These people have the right to get clean water, healthcare and education, but for what I see now, there are still issues for them to get drinkable water, especially in rural areas, as there is still need for support in healthcare. Even for what concerns education, I am so proud to say that my people, Timorese, are so intelligent and so smart, that they deserve the right education programs to teach them how and what to do, that is why we need vocational training.

Of course I am very optimistic that we are in the process to get to those points. With the great team, our President of Timor Foundation Excellency Dr. Ramos Horta, and all the board member who have their capabilities in every sector, I believe we can do something special and the Foundation is ready to support.

Also Scope Asia Switzerland and Scope Asia Timor, who focus on the development of smart solution for major infrastructure challenges in Timor leste, might provide us with support. Swiss reliability meets Asian creativity and it will be excellent. I cannot wait to see my Country, my people in the coming years, to benefit from higher quality in every sector. The key is to be creative, work together as a team work, always positive, work harder and we will see a good result.

I will encourage other Countries to come and support us and I will encourage my people, Timorese, to open their heart, mind and hand to receive the supports. Last but not least, I would like to say “NEVER GIVE UP” I got this from my mentor Ms. Barbara Lietz and I want to share this message to others.

Dahlia Guterres Bernardo

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Inauguration of the first Water-shop in Canossa Comoro

2016-12-01
On December 1st, 2016 it was inaugurated the first Water-shop in Canossa Comoro. This is the first Water Shop, or location, in Dili where we all find 100% clean and drinkable water, packed in a new storing system called “Bag-in-Box”. The highest standards and quality levels are guaranteed by this packing system. 80% less plastic and much money saved, to store the water over a long time.

It will bring a change in your environment – no plastic bottles anymore - 80% less plastic with the solution “Bag-in-Box”. It will generate a change in your daily health standards. It could mean a remarkable reduction of plastic bottles and we all know how important this is for Timor Leste.
Please visit the Water supply projects' page for more information and the pictures of the event!

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20th Anniversary Nobel Peace Prize

2016-10-08
October 6th to 8th, 2016 Dili Timor Leste

October, 11th 2016, marked the 20th anniversary of the official awarding announcement of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to two Timorese Sons, His Eminence Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and His Excellency President Dr. José Manuel Ramos Horta.

The Nobel Committee honored them for their continuing efforts to find a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor, now Timor-Leste. The awarding of the prize in 1996 was a crucial moment for the Timorese Resistance. It was the first step in a long negotiation process to find an internationally acceptable diplomatic solution based on the right of people to self-determination. This process would culminate three years later with a Referendum holding and justify the Independence Restoration of the country on the 20th May 2002.

On the occasion of this event my colleagues Prof. Dr. Josef Osterwalder and Prof. Dr. Karlmeinrad Giesinger and I were invited as guest of honors to participate in the celebrations.

While my two colleagues – both medical doctors – combined their visit with the assessment of the medical infrastructure in Timor-Leste to develop recommendations for the Timor Foundation’s activities in the healthcare sector my role was to present the Timor Foundation’s approach and ongoing activities to the local and international guests. More

Prof. Dr. Roger Moser, Founding Board Member, Timor Foundation and Director, ASIA CONNECT Center-HSG, University of St.Gallen

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20th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize Award for H.E. Dr. José Manuel Ramos Horta and H.E. Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo & Healthcare Situation in Timor-Leste

2016-10-10
Timor-Leste, 7th – 9th October 2016

In 1996 the Nobel Committee honoured H.E. Dr. José Manuel Ramos Horta and H.E. Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo for their efforts for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in Timor-Leste.

This October, the state of Timor-Leste celebrated this anniversary with an international conference to encourage especially young citizens to follow their example and get involved in the ongoing national development process of this young nation. More

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Visit to Timor-Leste in July 2016

2016-07-19
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 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 March 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.

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Tourism – pillar for the future of Timor Leste

2016-07-18
Written by Barbara Haller
To say it straight away, international leisure tourism in the 'classical sense' is actually non-existent in Timor Leste today. The nearly 100,000 annual overnight stays consist of business and domestic tourism. The latter guests are mainly international expatriates who are still stationed in the country. They spend their weekends on diving spots and sporadically in mountain areas. However, the number of expatriates has been falling since 2010, and consequently the number and income of inbound travel agencies decreased.

During my stay in Dili and its surrounding areas in June 2016, I had the chance to get my own impression of the situation based on observations, trips and talks to residents. As a board member of the Timor Foundation and its expert for tourism I will insert the findings to upcoming projects in the field of tourism.  
The tropical island Timor Leste has a great potential to turn tourism into an important source of income and support of the regional economy. To exploit this potential, tourism has to be developed in a sustainable way, considering the three dimensions economy, ecology, and society and build up a network of all main stakeholders, especially the local population. Several negative examples show that this is anything but easy.
On the very first morning of my stay I received an impression of the inexistence of the network between tour operators and locals. I joined a tour of a diving school which is operated by Australians and Europeans. Beside me about fourteen people joined the tour, most of them members of the US Navy. By minibus we went just a few kilometers out of town, to dive at the reef close to the beach. Beside sports equipment the diving instructors brought drinks and snacks with them as a part of our arrangement. We parked next to a street stall of a Timorese family. Unfortunately, the two groups – divers and Timorese family – remained separated during our whole stay and there was no communication between them. Although nearly twenty people were there, the locals did not make any sales with the divers and weren’t able to benefit from the situation at all.
A few days later I received the opportunity to conduct an interview with the management of the diving school and to ask them about their cooperation with locals. The school, which also rents guest rooms, employs Timorese drivers, kitchen and hotel staff and one local is working in the administration. The local employees receive English lessons and the diving school is regularly involved in beach clean-ups and awareness campaigns for the protection of the reef and the beaches. My interviewee seemed not only to be engaged for their own business, but also for the environment and the living conditions of local people. However, the talk also showed that suppliers like this diving school are barely linked with locals.
 
These and many other examples disclosed clear strengths and weaknesses of tourism in Timor Leste. Unique is definitely the "tourist virginity" of the island: on the one hand, the beaches and the reef, on the other hand the high mountains up to 3000 meters a.s.l. with their amazing trekking opportunities. Furthermore, there are the incredibly diverse culture and friendly people. This potential is hardly used today, only a few diving and trekking providers are based in Dili and their marketing barely consists much beyond a website and a mention in the ‘Lonely Planet’. Furthermore, there is a big lack of tourist and general infrastructure, e.g. traveling on the mostly gravel roads is very dangerous in many ways. However, the biggest demand on the operating site of tourism are human resources and their appropriate training opportunities.
At the moment, there are several governmental, privately, and NGO based institutions who offer education and training in the field of tourism and hospitality (see report of Manfred Pfiffner). However, there is a lack of management and strategic education and often the training content is not well adapted to the needs of the industry. One exception to be mentioned is ETDA (East Timor Development Agency) who offers application-oriented programs along international standards.

In Timor Leste the "last adventure" waits for experienced travelers. But there also tempt attractive investment opportunities, e.g. beach resorts, investors from all over the world to realize profits from the expanding world tourism. Predominantly interesting for Timor Leste are the near target markets Australia and East Asia, especially China. Here probably lies the greatest risk facing the young state: a master plan for spatial planning should be worked out and protected areas have to be designed and protected by law urgently. Otherwise, the best places will be taken and managed by foreign investors and a large part of the revenues from incomes and net product will drain away from Timor Leste.

To summarize, to establish tourism as an important pillar for the regional economy as well as a job provider for the rapidly growing, young population, Timor Leste needs a tourism strategy and appropriate policies which are supported by the main stakeholders. At the same time, large investment in the education system and training of professionals is needed and last but not least the tourism of the island must be strengthened and interconnected as a whole sector.
But wherefrom could the funds for tourism development come? “From today's oil revenues”, postulates Alfredo Pires, Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Timor-Leste in his ‘after oil’ policy. "We sell oil as only an engine of growth, and to invest in the non-oil sector.”

After my visit to Timor Leste I am even more motivated to bring in my personal knowledge as well as my tourism network. My goal is that Timor Leste can live of its natural wealth thanks to a holistic and sustainable development and one day tourism is an important pillar for the regional economy.

Acknowledgement
Thanks to those who enabled my stay and this report. Above all, Barbara Lietz and whose tireless engagement for Timor Leste. Likewise, hers two local employees, Januario Carvalho and Dahlia Bernardo, Personal Assistant of Barbara Lietz. They assisted me with their valuable inside knowledge, organized interesting conversations, and came to meet my wishes whenever possible.
Precious were the semi-structured interviews with the following institutions and people (in order of discussions): East Timor Development Agency ETDA, Palmira Pires (CEO); Alfredo Pires, Minister of Petroleum; Dili Institute of Technology DIT, Agustinus Nohak (Dean); Don Bosco Training Centre, Manuel Pinto (principal); Eco Discovery Tours, Maria Dos Reis Noronha (Manager), Dive Timor Lorosae, Virginie Montaner (Operation Manager)
And last but not least provided the master thesis of Eleni Karametaxas valuable preliminary information for me.

About Barbara Haller Rupf:

  • Professor at the University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur in the Institute for Tourism and Leisure ITF and Director of Studies of continuing education in tourism at ITF
  • Project manager  in the field of international and intercultural tourism with focus Asia (education and applied research projects)
  • Board member at Timor Foundation
 

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Volunteering in Timor - First Impressions of a Vibrant Country

08.07.2016
Written by Benjamin Berger
It has been three weeks since I set foot in the vibrant capital of Timor-Leste, setting out to volunteer for the Timor Foundation. Over these weeks, the initial bustle of roaring microlets, persistent taxi drivers and tireless locals, selling anything from coconuts to live chickens, has given way to the more tranquil side of Dili.

With their friendly, generous and open hearts, the people of Timor-Leste have welcomed me into their country. Although three weeks is not long enough by far to understand the workings of this young democracy, first impressions have undoubtedly made their mark.
Over the past years, the Timor Foundation have maintained a good relationship with the East Timor Development Agency (ETDA). It was here that I spent my first three weeks of my stay, teaching anything from English, business management and Swiss cuisine. While teaching and interacting with young hospitality and tourism students I immediately experienced their bursting curiosity and willingness to learn. This became even more apparent when teaching Timorese war veterans the basics of starting a business; they are willing to learn anything, from the absolute basics to the highly complex. More importantly, they do this with great appreciation. It seems that the Timorese not only value knowledge for its complexity, but also for the implicitness and openness with which it comes.
This is of course deeply humbling, as many will lend an ear to anything I have to say. It does however, shed some light on the difficult circumstances Timor-Leste has faced in the past, and still faces at present. The country has been the ground for international conflicts and interests over the past 300 years. Despite its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste now faces the problems its previous occupiers never addressed: weak infrastructure, poor education and a slow-growing economy. These difficulties are omnipresent and will challenge the country for years to come.
It is here that efforts of organisations such as the ETDA show their true value. The school has managed to create a learning environment that offers young students good practical education, preparing them for the challenges ahead. Most importantly, it satisfies the curiosity and motivation that is unmistakable in Timorese youth. It is with great pleasure that I have been able to contribute to this remarkable school and share whatever knowledge I could give.

 

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The educational system in Timor-Leste – special impressions of a fascinating country

2016-05-23
During my 10-days stay in April 2016, I had the Chance to visit various institutions and could get a concrete idea of Timor-Leste’s educational system.

The most striking characteristic of the local staff was its strong commitment and ambition in the classrooms to foster the children in the best way possible, although average class-sizes were enormous (roughly 50). The times when in Europe and especially in Switzerland demographic conditions forced the classes to be similarly big, have gone long ago, but in Timor-Leste 65% of the population are less than 25 years old. Moreover, due to the ongoing individualization of society, teaching 50 students in one class would in our country simply be unthinkable.
Timor-Leste’s eventful past of fighting for independence have significantly shaped the country’s educational system. 25 years of Indonesian occupation have suppressed the people’s original languages Tetum and Portuguese while heavily promoting Indonesian as the only language in schools. The severe consequences of this policy can still be experienced today: A generation of oblivion, a generation who cannot speak a word Portuguese.
Thus, today teachers struggle to give lessons in the official language, Portuguese. Additionally, responsible staff, which has predominantly only completed basic training, usually lacks proper material and fully equipped classrooms.
Nonetheless, both teachers and pupils are eager to educate and get educated. In nearly all schools I have visited, teacher-centered teaching was common practice. While tutors wrote on the blackboard, students would make notes in their booklets. Particularly impressive are sessions, when students study from books written in Portuguese while classes are hold in Tetum.
It proved to be equally difficult to train the children in IT, especially in „Excel“. Since there is hardly any public school in Timor who is provided with computers, kids have to get to know „Excel“ entirely theoretically, an unimaginable idea for Westerners. The ability to actually apply their knowledge, „learning by doing“, is unfortunately missed out.
Hence, there is an urgent need for action, in order to be able to connect theoretical knowledge with practical experience.
However, we could also find highly convincing and structured educational institutions in Timor-Leste. The Don Bosco schools and the Canossa Institute in Dili resemble the Swiss dual-training system, where the application of knowhow into real action is taught in an appropriate way on a daily basis.
Another remarkable characteristic are the predominant teacher-centered classes. Since the learning rate gets determined in advance, comprehensive individualization is inhibited. In order to establish modern teaching practices, which focus on students’ heterogeneity, big steps must be taken which require courage and the will for change.
Our exclusively for Oe-cusse tailored concept “Teach-the-Teacher”, which will start this summer, initiates a development that aims to target the previously mentioned points. Graduates have to be able to apply joined-up thinking, act independently and be responsible for life long learning in order to make their way in an internationally competitive environment.
I am personally very motivated and see despite the challenges great opportunities. A fascinating country, people who even in hard times show positive attitude and the staff’s impressive ambition and commitment are ideal conditions for starting an entirely new process.
World’s youngest democracy can take its chance. Timor-Leste: fascinating, unparalleled, challenging and beautiful. We are excited!

By Manfred Pfiffner

  • Professor of pedagogy in vocational education and traning at the Zurich University of Teacher Education (PH Zurich)
  • Expert for general education and Federal Vocational Baccalaureate, job-specific learning models and qualification procedures
  • Board member at Timor Foundation

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TIMOR-LESTE AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, THE STATE OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS – KEYNOTE SPEECH BY JOSE RAMOS-HORTA

2016-04-15
5TH SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES SYMPOSIUM
ST. ANTONY'S COLLEGE
THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
OXFORD, 14TH APRIL 2016
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
My sincere appreciation to the University of Oxford Southeast Asia Studies Project for inviting me to this year's symposium and I thank very specially Phyllis Ferguson for her hard work and flawless arrangements.

I will begin this presentation by sharing with you my views on Asia as a whole followed by remarks on our immediate sub-region, Southeast Asia and Timor-Leste.

Asia Is Rising
 
Led by 30 years of steady growth of the Chinese economy, Asia made impressive social and economic progress. However the challenges confronting the countries of the wider region are numerous and complex.
 
Asia is the Common Home of half of humanity; in any given hour of the day millions of people are in constant movement; millions are abandoning rural Asia and flocking into increasingly crowded cities; for their own daily survival hundreds of millions continue to exert enormous pressure on exhausted lands, forests, seas, lakes and rivers.
 
Asia is also home to the largest standing armies in the world, with nuclear weapons targeting rival neighbors, and intractable land and maritime border disputes, ethnic and religious tensions and strategic rivalries.
 
In January 2015 as Chair of the High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations some colleagues and I visited Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the three largest Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) to UN Peace Operations.
 
Following fruitful discussions in Dhaka and Islamabad my colleagues and I travelled to India. It would have been easier to fly out from Islamabad to Doha and from there to Delhi. However, I decided to experiment the most convoluted route, fly to Lahore and then drive about 40' to the India-Pakistan border at Waga where a week earlier extremist Taliban elements had committed an audacious attack killing over 50 people during the daily change of guard.
 
There in Waga as my Panel Colleagues and I, carrying our suitcases went through the immigration controls on Pakistan and Indian sides of the borders, I thought to myself, this has to be the most dangerous region of the Earth.
 
Six decades after independence and partition, the two South Asian neighbours, both nuclear armed, are still facing off over Kashmir, host of the oldest UN Mission in the world.
You might wish to read an excellent essay titled "The most dangerous place on Earth" by Dilip Hiro writing in Huffingtonpost.com. Hiro is the author, among many other works, of The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry between India and Pakistan (Nation Books). His 36th and latest book is The Age of Aspiration: Money, Power, and Conflict in Globalizing India (The New Press).
 
Moving East from South Asia, leaving behind the never ending wars of Afghanistan and Northern Frontiers of Pakistan, there is another Asia's dangerous flashpoint, the Korean Peninsula, where an entrenched "Hereditary Communist Monarchy", nuclear armed and unpredictable, poses daily threats to its democratic and prosperous neighbor.
 
For most part, Africans, Latin Americans and Europeans have freed themselves from the Cold War legacies. Not so Asia. The communist monarchy inaugurated by Kim Il Sung has successfully resisted XX and XXI Centuries transformations.
 
In some parts of Asia stone age practices remain pervasive - denying girls the right to go to school; acid is thrown on them for daring to sit in a class room; girls are married off or simply sold off to pay for the families' debt; in parts of Asia a woman can be sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery.
 
Leaders of China, Japan and Korea have not freed themselves from the legacies of colonial occupation and World War II. In part this is because there haven't been Japanese leaders of equal stature of Germany's Statesmen like Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Richard Von Weizacker, as well as scholars and opinion makers who influenced post War Germans to accept the collective burden of their national past.
 
Past Prime Ministers Tomiichi Murayma and Jumichiro Koizumi made unequivocal statements expressing "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" for Japan's war of aggression across Asia. However, some Diet Members continue to glorify the chief architects of the war with yearly visits to the Yasukumi cemetery where 1,000 war criminals are shrined as heroes.
 
Another dangerous flashpoint is the South China Sea and although a military clash seems unlikely, the build-up by some claimant States increases the risks of escalation.
 
To complicate matters, in the face of a rising Asian economic and military superpower that dwarfs all others, some in the region feel the need to call on US to enhance their security protection; and whether on the South China Sea or Taiwan Straits the world's only global power feels it is its "manifest destiny" to uphold "freedom of navigation" and "protect" its friends and allies in Asia, thus raising further the stakes.
 
Against the many negatives facts and complex challenges cited above, there have been also impressive transformations.
 
In the last 30 years, millions of people have been freed from poverty in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, The Philippines, Thailand; and the developed Asian economies - the Republic of Korea, Japan and Singapore -  continue to perform very well, and excel in technology and innovation.
 
China, the Republic of Korea, India and Indonesia have been growing at annual rates of between five and 10 percent for sustained long periods. The combined economies of China, Korea, Japan and India account for over 15 trillion dollars of annual GDP.  
 
Asia's economic powerhouses are a formidable force and stand side by side in output with the 16 trillion dollars of combined output in EU countries and the 15 trillion dollars US economy (IMF estimates for 2010.)
 
Asia's rise has had profound impact on the environment and Asians should feel obligated to pull resources and lead on tackling the challenges we face in the 21st Century; but leadership presupposes ability to build partnerships with other stakeholders - the emerging economies of the global South; and new partnerships of equals with Europe and the US.

State of Human Rights in Southeast Asia,
Timor-Leste ASEAN's Membership
 

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
 
Timor-Leste is the youngest independent country in Asia, barely 15 years since restoration of independence in 2002. While challenges and failures are evident, nevertheless we have made progress that makes us reasonably content.
 
Our Social and economic indicators speak for themselves: UNDP Human Development Report accords Timor-Leste a HDI for 2012 that jumped to the value of 0.576, placing our country in the medium human development category; at independence in 2002 it was 0.375.
 
According to the UNDP-commissioned report, East Asia and the Pacific: The region has an average HDI value of 0.683 and registered annual HDI value growth between 2000 and 2012 of 1.31%, with Timor-Leste leading with 2.71%, followed by Myanmar at 2.23%.  
 
At independence in 2002,  life expectancy at birth in Timor-Leste was 57 years and now averages 67 years. In 2002 there were 19 Timorese doctors. Now we have more than 1,000 medical doctors thanks to Cuban solidarity.
Incidences of malaria and dengue and the prevalence of poverty have decreased significantly.
 
Infant mortality and child mortality under five, as well as post-birth mother mortality, have been halved.
 
With less than one case of leprosy per 10,000 people, Timor-Leste is now considered by the WHO to be free from this centurys-old disease.
 
School enrolment jumped from a modest 63 per cent in 2006 to well over 90 per cent for basic Education, according to the 2010 National Census.
In addition to the 1,000 medical doctors trained in Cuba and in Timor-Leste, hundreds of Timor-Leste youth and civil servants were sent abroad under full  government scholarships for advanced diplomas or MAs and MSs and PhDs studies.
As we are pleased with the achievements thus far we are acutely aware of the daunting challenges still to overcome.
 
Like many countries in the early years of Independence, Timor-Leste has had to confront social and political challenges. In some instances, like in 2006 crisis, violence flared up rolling back the gains of previous years.
 
It is on Civil and Political Rights core elements that we have made the most progress and where we feel we have not failed to live up to the ideals of independence.
Timor-Leste has ratified every human rights treaty and is in compliance in all categories of human rights; our Constitution prohibits death penalty and maximum prison sentence is 25 years.
 
We have a very free media and active civil society; tensions do occur time to time between governing leaders and the media; however not a single media entity has been closed down or a journalist jailed in the 15 years of our independence.
 
While women are still lagging in some areas, Timor-Leste has a high representation of women in the Legislative and Executive branches.
 
The building of an independent and competent judiciary has been slow and it remains in its infancy. I have the deepest respect for our prosecutors, judges and public defenders and lawyers, and for this very reason it is a cause for concern that in some instances the prosecution and trial of some high profile cases reveal serious irregularities.
 
A judiciary whose professional competence and integrity is irreproachable is the crucial pillar of democracy and rule of law.
 
While political leaders must show utmost respect for the independence of the Judiciary, the Judiciary must earn this respect by way of its irreproachable competence and integrity as it handles alleged corruption and other cases brought before it.
 
Ours is an imperfect democracy with the many flaws common to democracies in Asia, Africa, Latin America and in parts of the West.
 
The only time when money did not play a role in our election outcome was in 2001-2002. Was this because we were all honest in 2001-2002 or because no one really had much money then to influence voters?
 
However our innocence did not last long. We soon learned the Asian style of democracy, a Money Democracy very much in vogue throughout Asia and in fact in most of the world in varying degree. By 2007 money began to influence voters; and in the 2012 elections millions of dollars changed hands.
 
How did we learn all this so quickly? Did we learn it from Indonesia? The Philippines? Thailand? Brazil? The US? There's no lacking examples to be emulated.
 
However, for all the imperfections of our developing democracy, and notwithstanding isolated incidents of violence, our regular elections have been largely peaceful and passable in terms of fairness and transparency.
 
Timor-Leste enjoys friendly and pro-active relationship with its two giant neighbors, the Republic of Indonesia and Australia, and both countries have played central role in assisting us in our hard in state building, peace building and national development.
 
With Indonesia we have almost completely resolved our common land border demarcation and are to begin maritime border negotiations.
 
However, our relationship with Australia is clouded by its refusal to entertain negotiations to define our joint maritime boundary.
 
In 1972 Australia and Indonesia agreed on their joint maritime boundary based on an antiquated "Continental Shelf" principle. The "Medium Line" principle is the accepted norm.
 
At the time of the conclusion of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia Maritime Boundary, Australian and Indonesian scholars said: "Australia took Indonesia to the cleaners".
 
Ever since our independence, Australia has tried to push down our throats the same arrangement it unfairly managed to sell to Indonesia.
 
Timor-Leste chief negotiator at that time, then Mr. Mari Alkatiri resisted Australia's demand for a maritime boundary based on the antiquated "Continental shelf" principle. Hence, we opted for a resource-sharing agreement and deferment of a permanent maritime boundary to a later stage.
 
However, some facts have emerged that compelled our Government to seek redress through reopening of negotiations on Maritime Boundary - Australia's unfair acts of espionage through blatant bugging of TL Government offices during the negotiations.
 
I hope and believe that common sense and justice will once again prevail. The Labour opposition has pledged that if elected into office in the coming federal elections it will reopen negotiations with TL on a permanent maritime boundary. I do hope Australian voters will do justice.
 
In the meantime, as the Australian Govt continues to refuse to negotiate a permanent maritime boundary with TL, our Government launched a request for compulsory mediation by the UN under UNCLOS.
 
Other than this disagreement - and this is not a small matter - our two countries continue to cooperate in almost every field with Australia being still our largest development aid partner; our bi-lateral defense and police cooperation has been exemplary. Hundreds of Timorese students are studying in Australian Colleges and Universities under full Australian Govt scholarships or our own Govt full sponsorship.
 
The Australian people we have known for decades are a people who are instinctively sympathetic to the underdog and have shown genuine solidarity towards the people of Timor-Leste; they reject the elitist conservative political leaders hardline approach on the maritime boundary issue.
 
And this has all to do, and only, with the vast reserves of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which under a medium line maritime boundary agreement would be 100% Timor-Leste's.

 
Timor-Leste and ASEAN Membership
 
From day of independence Timor-Leste stated its desire to join this sub-regional organisation.
 
The ASEAN Charter of 2008 clearly stipulates a number fundamental conditions for membership, a sine quo non condition being that the applicant country must be in Southeast Asia's footprint.
 
Article 6 outlines a number of other conditins including recognition by all ASEAN States and ability to carry out obligations, etc.
 
Timor-Leste is geographically on SEA footprint and has demonstrated its ability to develop normal, pro-active and constructive relations with all ASEAN States and beyond.  
 
Timor-Leste is an active member of the United Nations and all major multi-lateral bodies, namely the Bretton Woods Institutions.
 
Timorese Police Officers, Army Engineers and UNVs have served or are serving with the UN in many Missions from Afghanistan to Africa and Mddle East.
 
2014-2016 Timor-Leste presides over the CPLP which brings together countries from four Continents.
 
In the last 10 years Timor-Leste has contributed over $30 million in emergency relief assistance to countries affected by major natural disasters. Some of the countries are: Myanmar, The Philippines, Indonesia, China, Cuba, Haiti, etc.
 
In the 80's ASEAN leaders did debate the pros and cons of early admission of fellow Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam; each presented a different sets of challenges, ranging from outright military dictatorship to one-party communist regimes; there were and there remain considerable social and economic disparities among them.
 
But notwithstanding these challenges, the rational for early admission of the four Southeast Asian countries is entirely applicable to Timor-Leste today; regardless of the disparities among the four newcomers and other fellow ASEAN countries, the argument was, welcome and gradually steer them towards full integration.
 
We have been respectful of those in ASEAN who were or are still skeptical about Timor-Leste's capacity to meet the demands of ASEAN membership; we  understand that as some ASEAN member countries still face internal security and economic challenges, the addition of a potentially unstable new member is cause for hesitation.
 
With all these in mind, we have worked harder to convince fellow ASEAN Member States that Timor-Leste will be a responsible member.  
 
We thank all of them for their support, particularly the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN TL Task-Force led by Singapore for their diligent advice and steady assistance.

 
The State of Democracy and Human Rights in Southeast Asia
 
In reviewing the State of Democracy and Human Rights in Southeast Asia, looking from the perspective of the past 40 years, I submit that there have been significant gains as well as setbacks.
 
While overall ASEAN countries have performed well economically, with poverty levels decreased and human development indicators up, there is a democracy deficit; deficit in good governance, transparency and accountability; there are serious challenges in the judiciary which in some countries faces overwhelming political interference.
 
ASEAN countries have a long way to walk in fostering genuine democracy and rule of law, in empowering women and youth. Leaders have to address challenges of sustainable development, equitable distribution of wealth, environmental degradation, over fishing and destruction of corals, food security, etc.
 
Governments have to be more open in listening to their own peoples voices and accommodating critical views.
 
Long lasting peace and stability in Southeast Asia requires a comprehensive, integrated strategy encompassing all of the above as peace cannot be achieved through a security-based approach.
 
States must firmly address security threats emanating from extremist ideologies; but an intelligent security approach is one that encompasses dialogue, accommodates critical views, embraces ethnic and religious diversity and political plurality. Heavy-hand security approach is not suffice to ensure permanent security.
 
In the XXIst Century politics, in the era of Social Media, of Cyber and instant journalism, power is more diffused and inevitably shared with the common person, the restless youth, students and intellectuals, workers and farmers.
 
Decision-making is no longer an exclusive privilege of political dynasties or hereditary monarchies, and the rich.
ASEAN policy-makers must innovate to catch up with the fast changing dynamics in the cities, communities and streets, and to lead rather being being dragged along by events.
 
The street demonstrations from cities in Brazil to Turkey, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, the protests in cities in U.K. and France, alert us to the fact that there are more to individuals and societies than economic growth and glossy trade figures.
 
I submit that Indonesia, The Philippines and Timor-Leste are the three Southeast Asian counties with the freest Media and most political pluralism and inclusion; and there have been setbacks and dangerous trends in some other countries of our region.
There's undeniable progress in Myanmar. As in Indonesia in the weeks and months following the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998-99, Myanmar is beginning what promises to be a difficult transition to an open political space.
 
In 1998-1999 Indonesia was jolted by widespread ethnic and religious based violence, namely, in Kalimantan where thousands of people were killed during the Dayak-Buginese confrontations or in Ambon where Christian-Muslim pogroms took place. And as we know, the Indonesian Chinese community were for decades subject to official policies of exclusion, discrimination and widespread violence.
Some 15 years later, Indonesia is a very different country; it resolved the two different conflicts that occupied much of Indonesia's attention and invited international criticism, Timor-Leste and Aceh conflicts. And since then it has regained its status as the regional economic, security and diplomatic powerhouse.
 
Myanmar is going through similar challenges. Cease-fire agreements, demobilization, disarmament, integration of ethnic fighters into meaningful civilian life; national dialogue, healing and reconciliation; addressing the sensitive issues of the Rohingya communities and the relationship with the Muslim minority require strong leadership, courage and serenity by all involved.
 
Harsh judgements of Daw Aung Suu Kyi over her apparent evasiveness in addressing these challenges are premature and unfair. Suu Kyi is attempting to do what wise leaders would, and that is exercise maximum prudence, manage sensibly the conflicting interests and forces in the country, carefully weigh every step in the long and arduous journey towards a truly free, democratic and inclusive multi-ethnic Myanmar.
We must give her and her colleagues in the new Government time and space to manage a very new situation as they begin this process of transitioning from a past of violent conflicts, exclusion and sectarianism, absence of freedom and rule of law, weak existing judiciary, into a functioning democracy.
 
We know from experience how hard it is the building of a modern, functioning State. We too, Timorese leaders, were criticised, rightly so, by some in our own country and abroad, for refusing to support the creation of a special international tribunal to judge past crimes in Timor-Leste.
Then and now we believe that the cause of Justice, human rights and democracy in Timor-Leste and Indonesia and in fact anywhere in the world with similar challenges are best served through a process of Truth and Reconciliation, recognition and respect of victims, establishing an Institute of Memory so that future generations will not forget past injustices and crimes as well the sacrifices and bravery of many.
 
Remembering and learning from the past, the bad and the good, must be an exercise to honor our martyrs and heroes, and as a pedagogy on non-violence, forgiveness and reconciliation.
 
It would be a tragedy if the process of remembering the past instead of healing the soul and being a pedagogy of non-violence and forgiveness, provokes anger and hatred.
 
I congratulate the University of Oxford and the Southeast Asia Project forvbringing about this series of Southeast Asian Symposium.
 
A region with nearly 700 million people spread over an area of 4,500,000 km2 (1,700,000 sq miles), with a combined GDP of almost $2 trillion, cannot be a foot note of studies in European Universities.
 
The XXIst Century will be Asia's Century, Asia's  Age of Enlighthement, if a new Mahatma Ghandi emerges, who inspires and leads all, the 4 billion people of this vast region that extends from the doors of Constantinople to Dili, a region of great civilizations, religions and cultures, of great challenges and greater possibilities; we need a new Mahatma Ghandi to unite to inspire and unite all peoples.
 
I pray to God, The Almigty and the Merciful, to continue to bless us all.

 
J. RAMOS-HORTA


Vocational Training School for Hospitality and Management in Dili

2016-04-11
I came to Timor-Leste to collect data for my master thesis on collaborations in sustainable tourism development. Getting people to talk about sensitive subjects including their work and relationships is not easy. Gaining access to them in the first place is an almost bigger challenge. My research would not have been possible to the same extent without the support of Barbara Lietz and her team. The Timor Foundation’s invaluable network of local partners has been built step by step over years and is based on trust and a common vision.

These people shared their knowledge, their experience and their opinions with me and in the process I learned much more than I could use for my thesis. All of these interactions were insightful but one meeting stood out particularly for me. On one of my first days in Dili I had the chance to visit ETDA, a school focused on hospitality training. Despite many obstacles on the way Palmira Pires and her team created a hands-on training program with theoretical as well as practical courses. The modules are constantly adapted and improved based on the current needs of the private sector, which is still developing in Timor-Leste. This flexible and realistic approach facilitates the entry into professional life for the graduates. Their vision is it to become a “center for excellence in hospitality” in Timor-Leste and I am convinced that with the right support they will get there. ETDA is only one example of many impressive encounters during my study trip to Timor-Leste and I am grateful for all of them. But a Timorese colleague explained to me that saying „thank you” is considered a cheap way out in Timor-Leste. To show your respect to the other person you do not say anything, instead you will return the favor with a gesture. Whether this will be tomorrow or helping out their grandchildren in 20 years’ time does not matter. In other words: actions speak louder than words. In this way I will not thank the Timorese people for their utmost hospitality during my visit but hope to support them, in one way or the other, on their path to a brighter future for their young country.


About myself:

The fast paced hospitality and tourism industry with its manifold opportunities always fascinated me. I graduated from École hôtelière de Lausanne with a Bachelor in International Hospitality Management in 2012. Before, during and after my studies I consolidated my knowledge in varying working environments in different countries.

After my studies I worked in Laos for a hospitality training center. There I started to understand the importance of good education in the development of a sustainable tourism industry.
I am currently in the last semester for my Master degree in International Management from the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. With the support of Scope Asia I am writing my thesis on collaborations in the development of a tourism industry in Timor-Leste. At the same time I am working as an Assistant Manager in a hotel in Basel, Switzerland.

Eleni Karametaxas, FTHNW, Schweiz

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Thankful hearts in Ermera Timor-Leste - a grateful letter to our Board Member Max R. Hungerbühler

2016-02-03
Your Excellency Max from Timor Foundation,                  

The Canossian Sisters from Ermera Timor-Leste wish to thank you for the attention we have received through the gift of bread and cake mixer which is also able to make cream. A great help to our community and the place where we live.

Mr Max R. Hungerbühler, Board Member Timor Foundation donated the bread and cake mixer to our bakery. Our small bread industry has began two years ago, using traditional means  hence consuming time and enrgy with little production. Therefore we were not able to meet the request of the consumers, so we had to limit to just a tiny number of consumers.

If we look back at our history we started with one bag of flour and one small electric oven. The income made from selling bread,we were able to buy other needed utensils, another medium electric oven and also as an income for the day to day need of our own religious community. The help we received from you, started in the month of December. It saved us energy but increased the productivity thus increased as well our clientel.                    
Previously we had a permanent staff with many us taken turns to help in the dought preparation. Now we have added one more staff and their wages comes from the bread production. 

Our vision is that with the monthly balance from the selling we wish to get the following items: bread balcing machine, a a larger perhaps industrial oven, and build a side shelter just for the bakery. For at present the bread making activity is using the sewing room. Even our sewing activity started with one machine and has now increased.
Once more thank you  to your Excellency Mr. Max. Your help has given us some motivation for us to go forward.
We keep you in our prayer that the Lord God will bless and keep you safe in your mission.
Sorry we could not contact you earlier as we had no address. We are sending via other chanels and hope it will reach you.

Sr. Lúcia de Deus Soares, FdCC

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First successful implementation of the“sustainable drinking water project in Timor-Leste”

Timor-Leste, 10.-17. December 2015
The technical team from Trunz Water Systems and Scope Asia AG went to Timor Leste to install our first water solution system.
The Foundation has established a partnership with Trunz Water Systems AG Switzerland, which enjoys solid and proved reputation in bringing water facilities all over the world, including in developing countries and in countries affected by natural disasters.

The innovative idea is to combine Trunz machines to a new packing system called “BAG-in-BOX”, well known worldwide but which would be used for the very first time in Asia as solution for providing safe drinking water to the poorest. This Bag in Box system was realized and will be distributed from Scope Asia AG, Switzerland.

Timor Foundation decided to start with one school in Dili, Timor-Leste.

The Canossa Institute in Dili (4,500 students and their families)is one of the most important partners in education and training for the Timor Foundation. It is currently an education institution offering a Bachelor degree in office management and computer technology.

The water solution system as a Pilot installation, including the house was basically donated by Timor Foundation.
The complete system, the filled Bag-in-Boxes from Scope Asia Switzerland are the most important first steps to provide clean and environmental-friendly drinking water solutions in Timor-Leste. The aim is to avoid used, contaminated and harmful jerrycans and plastic bottles to reduce the plastic waste to a minimum.
Moreover with this new packaging concept from Switzerland new jobs in Timor-Leste could be
created without further significant investments.
 
The first Bag-in-Boxes for 5 and 10 l drinking water was handed over to Dr.José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor Foundation.

At the same time a small water machine was installed in an other school building of the Canossa Institute in Dili so that students always have access to clean drinking water. In future such small water systems from Trunz Water Systems AG Switzerland could provide households and small appartments, even small schools,  to ensure clean drinking water.

Our aim is to install this solution of water machines in all schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Click here for more pictures of the successful implemention.

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How Timor Foundation engages the local community - by Natalie and Nikolaj

2015-12-10
Working in the field of sustainable development myself I well know it is a common understanding to include the relevant stakeholder in any work related to create an environmental and social impact. But how is this applied on the ground? Currently travelling with my wonderful girlfriend Natalie we had the chance passing by Timor Leste, enjoying a deeper look into Timor Foundation's work on the spot and learn more about how Barbara and her team work closely with the local people to bring progress to one of the poorest countries on this earth. 
 
We are on a longer world tour passing by many countries but we looked especially forward to go to Timor Leste as I visited this fascinating country already in 2011 and then have been touched by the wonderful spirit of the people, their warm hospitality but also by their terrific struggle during the last decades. 
 

Knowing Barbara and her strong work from Switzerland, she kindly invited us to have a closer look at her current water project. What strokes us most during this time was the carefully conducted collaborational approach the foundation takes to implement their projects. Especially in the East Timor's context, where the people do rely on foreign aid it is crucial to provide this urgently needed support without overrunning them in western manners and dictate solutions whithout onboarding the relevant stakeholders.
 
The first days we were basically meeting relevant project partners and learned through their voice. Dahlia, the energetic local project coordination of Timor Foundation, who secures the continuation but also the cultural context was one of them. Followed by local government officers, lawyers and of course the charismatic Sister Guilhermina who runs the Canossa School where the first water treatment systems from Timor Foundation is implemented as a pilot project. In the current stage we were observing and supporting the preparation for the opening ceremony of this pilot water filter which allows all children and their families to have a free and safe access to drinking water. 
 
During this time we worked closely with many different local partners. Some of them are not even directly related to Timor Foundation or its project at and their contribution is voluntary as they strongly believe in the foundations' vision and especially its inclusive approach for change. Nevertheless, they jump in and support Barbara and her team to ensure that the project are deeply rooted into the local context and therefore ensure a successful implementation. 
 
It is one part to bring the right solution to a pressing problem balancing environmental, social and economic factors. But the major challenge remains a successful implementation and here we could witness the strong local network of the Timor Foundationand Barbara's work even the deep rooted collaboration with local partners. 
 
As travellers we will continue our journey but we will keep the memories of a wonderful time in Timor Leste with us and look forward to follow the progress of the Timor Foundation and keep in touch with all the lovely local partners we met there.

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Prime Minister visits historical institution of Fatumaca, in Baucau

July 2015
The Prime Minister, Rui Maria de Araújo, along with a delegation of the Government of Timor-Leste, paid a visit to the historic School of Vocational Technical College Don Bosco of Fatumaca, in the district of Baucau, this July 18.

The Don Bosco College of Fatumaca is an example in the areas of Technical Vocational and Professional Education, which enables young people to better choose what they want for their future," said the Prime Minister.

The Head of Government stated that it will intensify the attention given to technical vocational schools in the country, because the trained technicians are those who will ensure and enhance national development: "This is a priority for the Government, because the future prospects of development of Timor-Leste depend on the training provided by technical schools."

The Chief Executive pointed out that the number of people trained in technical areas is still limited. Therefore, in the future, technical training must intensify so that more people can participate in the national development process.

The Prime Minister also said that we must also listen to teachers and students about their experiences and about the teaching of Fatumaca College: "The role of the Vocational Technical School is very important. So we have to pay attention to the concerns that teachers will list, in order to be able to further discuss with the Ministry of Education, to review and adjust the response to the needs and challenges facing Timor-Leste."

The Prime Minister also called for young people to think and decide what skills and training they need, in their perspective of the future development of Timor-Leste, as there is a great need for young people with technical skills to compete in the labor market.
During the visit, the Prime Minister and the government delegation visited the technical areas of training, including the departments of Electronics Engineering, Electricity, Mechanics and machinery. In addition, the delegation also visited the warehouses and livestock areas.


Up Coming Working Visit to Timor Leste, Barbara Lietz April 2015

März 2015
Barbara Lietz will be in Timor Leste in April 2015. The visit is focusing on the next steps regarding our projects "Sustainable drinking water solution" and "Hospitality and Management Education Progam". We are looking forward to her results and the news about the development of the projects.

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Ramos-Horta co-chairs Asia “Regional Consultation on Peace Operations”.

January 2015
Former President José Ramos-Horta departed Dili on Saturday for a long, literally around the globe tour canvassing opinion and support for UN Peace Operations reforms.
First stop is in Dhaka to be followed by Tokyo, Islamabad, New Delhi (Asia), Addis Ababa (Africa), Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Oslo, Helsinki (Europe), Rio de Janeiro (Latin America). And this list of countries is not exhaustive.Other Panel members (they are 17) are covering other countries in Africa where there is the largest number of UN Peace-Keepers.Please see President Ramos-Horta remarks at the opening of the Consultation in Dhaka.

more information about Dr. José Ramos Horta: www.ramoshorta.com

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