Thursday, January 06, 2011

Leaving Timor-Leste

A new year has started. After four years of hard work, the NRC office in Timor-Leste is closed, according to plans. Now my family and I we are having few days of holidays before returning to Norway. Indeed we are a little bit exhausted....It takes a lot of energy to start a mission but closing one is as challenging, if done right.
I have been abroad from Norway since March 2005, first two years in Darfur and four years in Timor-Leste.
There are many things to say about what happens in a job like this during six years. If I was to write a list of things I have learnt during this time, that list would be a book. And perhaps it should be, one day. But not to worry, it will not be something of the cheesy stuff or Hollywood material. If I was to write, I would write about the lessons of resilience that I have learnt, when listening to people in crisis and how they show how powerful people can be when survival is the most important thing to do. I will not forget the tears, the faces and the stories.
Something very beautiful happenned to me in the last weeks I was in Timor-Leste. In a ceremony in Dili on November 28th, at the celebration of the 30th anniversary for the proclamation of independence, President Jose Ramos-Horta awarded me with the Order of Timor-Leste, and I am most grateful. (For an article in Norwegian, click this link).The best thing about this award is that it has many shareholders, since there were hundreds of good people in NRC Timor-Leste who have done an exceptional work, while providing assistance and help to people in need.
My family and I leave behind in Timor-Leste many good stories, friends, experiences and our beautiful dog Pancho, who is now adopted by a good family.
When we first came to Timor-Leste four years ago, the situation was completely different and the challenges were everywhere. Situation has changed and now new opportunities and tasks lies ahead for those colleagues working with development issues. For me, first step is to return to Norway and we will see what comes next. After six years abroad, I look forward going for a long walk in the Norwegian forest.


Ricardo said...

We have never had the pleasure to meet and I have been in Timor for less than 2 years. However, when I read your words I felt touched and it increased my will to do better for this great nation and wonderful people.

Good luck for your new missions.

Ricardo Monteiro

Anonymous said...

Dear Maun,

you remind me of this french president who chose "quiet power" as his motto. Not everyone would have stayed in spite of all frustrations one can encounter in a to-be-country, but you did. TL is a nice play to live but a difficult to work in.

When you are finished talking to the trees, please come back to us !

....and beware of the spiders :)