I am currently in transit to the nation of East Timor. The trip is 24 hours of flying time over a three day period. I will arrive tomorrow morning in the capital of Dili and then drive to our home base in Baucau.
I would like to start this section of the blog by giving you a little background on the country.
The Portuguese first settled in East Timor in the 16th century and were a colonial power for greater than 400 years. In the 1970s, Portugal was struggling with the decolonization of Angola and Mozambique, and chose to abandon their interests in East Timor. The island was declared independent from Portugal in 1975.
Unfortunately, days after declaring independence, Indonesia invaded and began a brutal occupation decimating the region. Some estimates state that 40% of the population died secondary to murder, malnutrition and infectious disease.
On August 30th 1999, in a UN sponsored referendum, the people of East Timor voted for independence. The Indonesian government was not pleased with the outcome and they sponsored militias to enact a ruthless campaign of extreme violence. They killed indiscriminately and forced many people to flee into neighboring West Timor.
However, over the ensuing months and years, the violence subsided and on May 20 2002, East Timor achieved true independence from the Indonesian oppressors.
East Timor is now fairly stable and is in the process of rebuilding. Hopefully, we can help the medical community in Baucau take a small step forward.