Sunday, October 31, 2010
East Timor, a new rising sun at the equator
I recall I heard some years ago about a genocide in a very far country in South-East Asia. The news arrived fast and was quickly forgotten like the many other bad stories we read on the newspapers. During the last weekend spent visiting East-Timor, guest of the Salesian Priests in Dili, Fatumaca and Fuiloro I could refresh my memory, know more first hand news and propose a contribution to modernization of the Country technical education.
The visit has been very useful to understand the situation of the Country and in particular of the Salesian technical schools in order to propose a help to the education of the young directing them to invent new technologies and products in creative and original ways, without having to depend from the usual foreign countries that bring so called wealth and industry in the developing countries at the dear price of economical and political dependence, not to mention the social impact that reduces the population to passive buyers of useless products and cultural pollution.
I have been nicely welcomed by Father Superior Joao Paulino and accompanied during the trip by Father Rui; he, very nice and never tired driver through the bad roads connecting the various towns and cities, told me of the times of the Indonesian occupation that followed the unilateral independence declaration of 1975. Hundreds of thousands EastTimorese were killed by the Indonesian militia until the referendum that gave the real independence to the Country in 1999; a very difficult period in which the priests and the civil population helped the guerrilla warriors hidden in the jungle during the fight for freedom. The true peace arrived only few years ago after the conclusion of the civil war that continued with various crises until 2006. Unfortunately all these years of fight has left the Country without infrastructures, without professionals capable to manage the reconstruction and at the mercy of international political games interested to put their hands on the oil of the Country.
As we left the capital Dili, unfortunately already on the way of a confused and depressing urbanization, we could admire the unspoiled nature with tropical forests, green fields and savanas with reddish soil, the bushy mountains, golden or white stone beaches and a sea of perfectly transparent water with all the possible tones of blue, free from ships until the horizon.
Even the most humble huts and traditional houses are tidy and clean and free from the horrible plastic stuff brought by the progress; everybody greet with a sincere smile while we slow down the speed to avoid chicken, pigs, dogs, cows and goats that abound freely on the road.
During the visits at the schools I learned the difficulties with the electric supply, which arrives at interrupted hours and with voltage oscillations that damage the tools like the water pumps for example making irregular and problematic the water pumping from the ground. I was particularly interested in the visit at the professional school of Fatumaca, in the centre of the Country, which offers to its over 200 students the specializations of mechanics, electrical and carpentry. I appreciated the complete mechanical workshop with lathes, milling machines, grinders, smelting and forging, similar to what I had in my technical high school “A.Volta” in Trieste long time ago, but I have also noticed the absence of CNC machines and modern engineering design software.
But the main difficulty that the schools and the people are facing is in the communications, both on the roads and multimedia. Even a simple internet connection is still a problem in the main part of the Country due to the monopoly of the Company managing the telecommunication, apparently foreign owned.
Besides recommending the urgent implementation of a internet broadband installation in every school we have agreed on teaching activities that we will provide in person and via internet from Trieste, Singapore and other parts of the World involving voluntaries and friends to help this new Country to rise after so many years of struggles.