Due to some issues with our visa and stay permit in Myanmar, Dwight and I went back to our home countries earlier than expected. Because of this, I flew back to Jakarta on the morning of January 26.
As part of the program, I began to plan for my follow-up activities with my home organization of ITP. We decided to conduct two sharing activities, one with the ITP staff in Jakarta
and one in my hometown of West Timor.
My first information-sharing activity was held on January 26 with the ITP staff. Plu Reh, the PeaceComm fellow assigned for ITP, also attended the activity.
Most of the staff were interested on this exchange program because it is beneficial, not only for the participants, but also to its partners. Based on this, all of the staff hoped that the network established through this program will be strengthened, especially in working for peace in Southeast Asia.
On February 18, I traveled to Atambua in Belu District in West Timor to share my experiences with the community leaders in the area. Belu District is 250 kilometers from my hometown of Kupang and it also borders the country of East Timor. It took me around eight hours by bus to reach this town from Kupang.
I chose Atambua as a place to share my experiences I because worked in this area in facilitating the community in their peace-building activities since 2004. Being at the border with East Timor, Atambua is the largest base for refugees from East Timor.
Attended by government representatives, community leaders, and ex-East Timorese refugees, the sharing activity lasted about four hours. It was an interesting session, especially when I told them about the current situation in Myanmar and the FK exchange program.
From March 25 to 26, I also facilitated an activity for community leaders in my hometown of Kupang. It was attended by 23 participants from three districts, namely Kupang City, Kupang Regent and TTS Regent. It was held at Wisma Oemathonis in the capital of Kupang regency. We chose Camplong because it was in the middle of the three districts and it is easy for the participant to get there.
This activity was organized with the help of Lopo Dame Flobamora and the Commission for Justice Peace and Pastoral for Migrant Itinerant People of Archidocese of Kupang.
From these two activities, I noticed that many people in West Timor doesn’t know the difference between Myanmar and Burma. They thought Burma was different from Myanmar. Their knowledge about Myanmar is only limited to the news from television and newspaper. Most of them are only aware of the military regime, Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and some Burmese refugees arrested by Indonesian police while trying to cross into Australia.
During these activities, I shared my experiences from the PrepCourse in Bangkok and my activities in Myanmar. I also discussed the current situation in Myanmar and the presence of Shalom Foundation as a local NGO working on building peace, preventing conflicting, and facilitating dialogue with the Myanmar government.
I also shared my experiences to some communities in Ayotupas (TTS), Manufonu and Wini (the border areas between TTU Regent and Oekusi Distric of East Timor).
All in all, participants from the sharing activities gained new perspective and information on the current situation in Myanmar.
The PeaceComm program, which was organized by FK and its partners, gave me the opportunity to improve my skills, to get to know other people, culture and the way of life of Myanmar and to share these experiences especially for West Timorese. I hope that this program will be extended to continue working for equality, mutual understanding and cooperation among Asian countries and to eradicate poverty, prevent conflict and, in the long term, bring about lasting peace.