Timor-Leste: I’ll miss you, but it’s time for me to go home

Thank you Timor-Leste for many things –

Mister Busa, despite your reputation, you are a good cat. Not a very good cat, but you are still a good cat. You are certainly a less shit cat since your cat-nuts were removed.  I will miss you.

The extraordinary people who have shared their stories, experiences, energy, and wine. Both foreign and local: understanding other people is a joy,  and a fascination. I have a feeling that I will cross paths with some of you again.

Thank you for giving me the chance to learn about how this complex post-conflict country works – and how it doesn’t work. Equal parts of hope and frustration, with a painful recent history.  I’m very fortunate to have been in this extraordinary place at this special moment in time, as the country self govens.

Recognising how privileged I am, and redefining the difference between my personal needs and wants. Reminding me again of my self-reliance. Making me exercise patience, tolerance, acceptance. Managing and recognising my frustrations, loneliness, isolation. Being a flawed human, and trying to be a slightly better one tomorrow.


Some things are harder when I’m away

Don’t get me wrong, I do this type of work in developing countries because I choose to, I want to, and occasionally I’m even good at it.  But sometimes life is a bit more challenging.

Without the supports and networks from home, in an unfamiliar cultural context. Being so distant from the things that usually bring comfort – walking in Melbourne, being unnoticed, cats, old friends with who I share a history, people who know the more complex version of myself (not just the aid worker), clean water to bathe in, feeling like I belong.


For the right job, I will certainly come back to Dili – but for now I need to spend time in Melbourne to reconnect with my people and my city and my community.

Next step: a month on the dole, spending time to listen to the stories I have missed from my friends. Eating. Dance floors in the bush at dawn. Fitting in: being with my people, sharing the experiences I love. The small cats – getting used to each other again, gently gently. Then lots of cat squeezing. And sleeping in. Trams. My bicycle. Then back to uni for a bit. I need a rest, and uni is a very good place for that.

This year there have been more ups than downs for me. On balance.  This is a good thing.  I’m grateful for all the experiences. Even the harder ones.

Timor-Leste – I’ll miss you, but it’s time for me to go home.

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