A group including a priest and my mum accompanied me. As we drove into the first village on a rocky unsealed road, all of the villagers began to emerge from their huts and gather around our cars. They were waving and excited to greet us.
As we emerged from the cars, the villagers were jostling to grab our hands and kiss them in greeting. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed and the whole thing felt surreal. I felt like they had mistaken us for someone important.
Later the children gathered in the centre of the village and were desperately trying to communicate with us. I didn’t have any idea how to speak Tetum so we began singing nursery rhymes and doing actions to try and connect with them. The smile began to grow on their faces in appreciation of our efforts.
As we spent time with them our interpreter took me over to meet two young girls in the village. He told me they were similar to my age. The girls were at least a head shorter than me and very thin. I was shocked; they looked like they were half my age.
The village elder then came forward and welcomed us. He spoke emotionally of the hopes for his people and the gratitude they felt towards us for coming so far to meet them. We had not forgotten the people of Timor Leste.
We shared a meal with them, which would have been a great sacrifice, of their meagre resources.
A special welcoming ritual began and I was asked to receive their ceremonial tice and to my surprise I was made daughter of the village. Being honoured with the title of daughter of the village I am now tied to my new family in Timor Leste. I am compelled and driven to help them build
a better future.
Upon my return from Timor Leste, a group was started to support and raise much needed funds for the people of Letefoho in Timor Leste. This was to become LETS - Letefoho East Timor Support.
What might seem like a very small thing to you, could make a whole world of difference to my new brothers and sisters of Letefoho!
2014: I am a 15 year old student attending Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, North Sydney. I am currently in year 9.
I had the good fortune last year to visit the area of Letefoho in Timor Leste. I embarked on what felt like a wild adventure to an unknown land. I was unsure what to expect and to be truthful I was very scared of what I might see and experience. I knew little of the country and of the history to independence.
My Mum sat me down in the weeks before to watch, “Alias Ruby Blade”, the story of Kirsty Sword Gusmão. I was taken aback by how dirty and underdeveloped the country looked, but I understood the pain and suffering the Timorese people endured for independence.