Papi … In Memoriam

It’s too painful

To think

That you are gone

Without saying goodbye.

At first, I don’t want to believe

Because in my heart you live,

As part of me

And everybody else.

I keep the memory

Of our time together;

When we don’t have anybody

But each other.

Now you have gone

To a far away place

Never to return again

In my arms

The act of terrorism

Just became too real for me

When it finally got you

And took you away.

I pray that the angels

Carry your soul to the heavens

To watch over us

Until the time we meet again.

Remember …

You have touched many lives

While you served

To protect and defend

The weak

I am proud to have known you.

To have been your friend

And above all

To have loved you.

Good bye Papi.

The Angels will

Take care of you now.

Adios ❤





We stopped by one of the weekend markets we saw on our way back from Same via Ainaro to Dili in Timor Leste.

This man approached me and asked to have a photo with his prized possession – his fighting rooster!

You will meet all kinds of people in weekend markets, we even do our advocacy campaign in places like this because all the people from the different villages, behind and beyond the hills come down to sell the produce of their lands, sell cheap chinese goods and to bargain for their weekly supplies – rice, vegetables, root crops etc.

This is also a time for people without electricity to charge their phones and other electronic device for a fee or free using portable solar batteries.

Life is good when you take the time to meet people and you let them know you too.


Besties I Call Quinta Girls

I told a friend that Timor Leste does not evoke any artistic desires in my heart. I don’t feel inspired to write poems which I often do in other countries except when I see the sunrise and sunset in the horizon of Sunda Sea.

The history of the country is heavy like most countries I worked in the past. The story of death and desperation is written  in almost all the books and non-fiction materials I came across with while there and it breaks my heart, and I tried as much as I can to understand where the people I encountered in my work are coming from when I started to deal with the Timorese — I am not always successful because people are complex and like every human I make mistakes. At some point the government advised the people not to write their report summaries with the story of the atrocities committed to them as the introduction instead to talk about their resilience of overcoming their adversities and become the one of the youngest democratic nation in the world. They became an independent nation in 2002 as the eastern half of the Timor Island.

The lack of literary inspiration was soon over shadowed by finding good friends that can be there to listen to you vent when the going gets tough and laugh with you at the silliest joke. The poems were instead replaced by memories and images of the times we spent together that I will cherish until the next time.

Coming from different background and with different responsibilities the girls and I bonded over evenings of stories, dancing, photography, karaoke, shopping, drinking and of course food. We took road trips. We supported each others work until we parted as besties after our contracts and missions are completed.

Over those Thursday dinner the regular became the Quinta Girls (and the boys became Domingo Boys much later). A name we coined because we sort of regularly meet towards the end of the week – Thursday and plan the weekend to unwind from the week that was and relax before the next week. We brought whatever we can on the table and started chatting, sharing stories and there are times we cook from scratch and finish off with good dancing or music. Eventually my house shared with A became known as the Quinta house – one and two since we moved twice in the almost 4 years I was in Timor Leste. 

Quinta girls

The girls are experts in different field — human resource development, photography and film directing, monitoring and evaluation, agriculture, HIV / AIDS, rural development, organizational development, aqua culture, social inclusion, project management, disability, climate change, people and culture, video editing, grant management.  Name it most of the girls (and boys) have opinion on issues affecting world peace but we definitely know how to have fun.

But above and beyond our professional backgrounds, we became good friends until it was time for us to leave and move on to the next mission, to home, get married and become parents. Still in touch, updating each other and catching up on each others adventure after Timor Leste.

This is one of the perks of being an expat — finding gems in the rough and in my time there these gems are the sisters, friends I collectively call Quinta girls 🙂

Celebrating Small Wins in Education in the Disability Sector

When I started dreaming of what can have a lasting impact for the many partners we have in the community I thought of educating them of something they cannot forget, something they can sustain and even pass on to the next person.

My role in Timor Leste was project manager and technical adviser on community based rehabilitation (CBR). Basically it was to start a new program from scratch and make sure that after 4 years the project continue and many people with disabilities in the community are able to access services provided by the main partner organization in the capital Dili.

CBR is a concept developed over 40 years ago to give more opportunity for people with disability in the community – from services to other basic needs such as health, education and livelihood. It also encourages people to engage more in the community and the community in return embrace them and make all developments inclusive to uphold the rights of all. This concept also empowers people with disability themselves to exercise their rights to organize and be their own ambassador so that people will truly understand the meaning of “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

After a year in the country, a dream had started to take shape and it spill out to include not only my immediate organization but the disability sector. I have to get them on board (though my organization then was not very happy because it seems like I am diverting from my original job) so I wrote a proposal on creating a training program but instead of giving short-term training why not give a long-term one and attach it to the university to guarantee legitimacy of the training therefore professionalized the CBR workers and eventually sustaining it if I can have it included in the existing community development course. Big dreams!

The materials are there. WHO have an updated CBR guidelines and I know that my organization have a functioning CBR programs in other countries. Just need to adapt it according to the needs of Timor Leste and its disability sector.

There are several active organization in country that would benefit from the course at the same time believe that this approach can be effective and useful. While international organization approached were willing to help according to the demands and challenges of Timor Leste. 

There were training done in country in the past but was interrupted by the civil war in 2006 and all the participants then moved on and so are the trainers. The course can use the materials as reference in the development of specific materials for the course.

Infrastructure already exists it just need to be made accessible for people with disability including a community development department started in 2002 that share the same principles of the CBR diploma course.

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