Before I arrived in Dili, I had a healthy dose of sympathy for the Timorese who had been serially shafted by the Portuguese then the Indonesians. It didn’t really give them much of a chance to get their house in order. I never did quite believe the head of the World Bank praising TL as a shining example of how a country could pull itself together. Nor that the UN was the vehicle bringing on that success.
Then it all came crashing down. After a few weeks then a few months of continual turmoil, I certainly started losing that sympathetic edge. Then I noticed the same disenchantment coming from others, then for me it was a definite trend. A few people mentioned how they noticed that “earnest” edge was being knocked off some of those more dedicated aid/volunteer workers.
Then what convinced me it was no longer to be ignored, was the chat I had with an acquaintance who was seriously questioning with “what’s the point anymore? … everything I have done here is back to square one … do I just re-start everything again … it will take 10 years before it will feel like progress is being made and I can’t wait that long”.
All I could say was “how was it different to before? … you were always pushing against negative forces … where would it be if you weren’t here at all?”.
Hardly inspirational but this is what holidays to Bali are for.