Ba Distrito - Week 6

Embassy Pic

Work Stuff

Friday I led my first meeting for the Ministry of Justice. It was about half a day, and I basically gave an introduction on how to analyze qualitative data. It was a team of about 6-8. The Director of the particular area of the Ministry that commissioned this work sat in as well. I think it’s hard to gauge the reception of a meeting or a concept across cultures. I was told when I got back, though, that it went very well. One of my co-workers said that the fact that they were smiling afterward was a very good sign because they can be very critical.

According to Nino (one of my supervisors), they seemed really excited about the project and eager to learn. They asked to do two full day sessions next week. Because it took a while to get all the data (and I’m still waiting on 2 translations), we’re feeling a bit of a time crunch. I only have four more weeks here.

Friday afternoon Nino told me that on Monday several people in the office are going to Oecusse to assess one of Ba Distrito’s projects out there and that they have an extra seat on the plane. He asked whether I would be interested in going if I felt confident that I was prepared for Tuesday’s training. As you can imagine, my answer was a resounding yes. Oecusse is sort of the enclave of Timor Leste. It’s sitting in the middle of the Indonesian part of the island. In fact Carlos (someone else on the Access to Justice team) told me that part of the flight has to go over the ocean since they’re not allowed to fly over Indonesian air space.

I’m getting picked up at 6:45 Monday morning, and I will be taking many, many pictures :)


1 – The Cat

So, there is a hole in the ceiling of my bathroom because of a leaky pipe. I have a bucket under the hole to catch the water and the falling, rotten wood. Yes, as someone who used to run an insurance restoration company, this should probably concern me more, but I’m only here for a few more weeks and don’t like making a fuss.

I am on the ground floor, and the actual church is on the second floor of the building. I’ve heard noises above me in the bathroom for a little while and just assumed there were people upstairs. …I was wrong.

 When I got home from work Tuesday, I was getting really annoyed by what sounded like a cat loudly meowing outside my window. Then I went into my bathroom, and saw a kitten cowering in the corner. Apparently, all the little noises were a little cat family running about above my head, and one of the kittens fell through the hole. Cats and dogs roam everywhere here, and for the sake of your health, you really shouldn’t touch them. (It was pretty cute though) One of the guys caught the kitten in a bucket, and released it outside.


Wednesday morning, I realized how many little kitty sounds I could hear above my head in the bathroom. The hole is right above my toilet… and the rest of the ceiling doesn’t look like the most solid craftmanship. I now live in fear that a terrified cat is going to land on my head one of these days… And Nino did not make it better by pointing out “Oh…they’re probably up there chasing rats.” Lol. Thanks, Nino, that makes me feel much better. I had only been worried about cats falling on me until then…

At Bible study on Wednesday, I was the first one to get there and told Samaresh about the cat. He then told everyone else who came that this week I had received “a very special blessing from above” and everyone just laughed at my interesting mis-adventures.

2 – Independence Day

As you know, July 4 is Independence Day. As an American citizen in Timor, I was invited to the American Embassy’s Fourth of July party on July 2. There were tons of people there. There aren’t many Americans in Timor outside those working at the Embassy and USAID and a few navy personnel who are helping build schools and such in the area. Most organizations try to hire in-country. The Embassy invites people from the organizations it works with, so there were lots of people from everywhere. A few people from my office came, and we talked and took lots of pictures. The picture below is of Carolyn (Chief of Party for Ba Distrito), me, and two USAID people who work with the project.


I also got to meet the Ambassador! I didn’t get a picture with her, but the Facebook album has a picture of her giving her speech.

The party was a lot of fun. They had a projector pointed at the ceiling of the main atrium of the Embassy so that we had fireworks. We could take a picture with a cardboard cutout of President Obama in front of a giant American flag. There was a live band, and lots of American food.

Oh, and there was dancing… lots of dancing. One of the USAID guys knew how to swing dance and asked if I’d like to dance with him, and a couple of Timorese men asked me to dance as well. I got to learn a couple of Timorese steps, which was fun.

I think that's it for now. Happy Independence Day, everyone! 

You can look at my new pictures here.