World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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Regional Programme

Movement Building Internship
in Timor Leste SCM

From June 16 to July 16 (one month), WSCF ExCo member Nina Nayoan from GMKI spent one month in Timor Leste helping and facilitating to build the newly formed movement in this country. During the brief period, she has helped set-up the movement and assisted the students and leaders of the movement to strengthen the organization. Here some highlights of the report reflection she has shared to the regional office after her internship.

Some Challenging issues for SCM Timor Leste (TL)

Building culture of dialogue within the plural context of TL

Although TL is known as a country of predominantly Christians, with 90 % of its population Catholics and 4-5% are Protestant, the diversity in terms of the ethnic groups or spoken language group has significant impact to the conflict potential of the country. Romo Albert Rutten, SJ, one of the Catholic intellectual leader in TL said that the people of TL were divided into different smaller groups such as Bunak, Kemak, Mambae, Makasae, Uab Meto, Fatuluku, and many others groups. These division has created social problem since the ancient time which became very difficult to resolve until today.

Within the context of TL, this diversity cannot be avoided. So, I thought that creating an open space to dialogue for one to another from different ethnic groups or even different Christian tradition background could be one challenge or step to build ecumenism in TL.

Issue of Education

TL as the newest country in the world is now developing various sector of life for building the nation. Education is one sector in which 70 % is given priority by the people according to their National Development Plan. The policy of education system is now in the process of being drafted by the government. Some group of people     including some local NGO who are concern on this issue has questioned the role of education whether to serve for work market (business market) or to humanize people from dehumanization process by the unjust structure and system. While within the SCM context, there is great enthusiasm among SCM members to get education in order to solve the problems within their community or country, especially the problem of poverty.

I was really impressed by their enthusiasm or their spirit to overcome these obstacles within their context all though it should be realized that it is not an automatic task. While there was just few of people—SAHE Institute is one of them—commented that the knowledge taught in the campus has not followed the need logic of the majority people. In other words, the knowledge taught in the university is still separated from the reality of people’s daily life. In this contemporary situation, I’m thinking that there would be a challenge for SCM TL to take part of the advocacy work on the issue of education. Besides that, it would also be a challenge for SCM TL members to build SCM as the alternative place of learning various perspective or knowledge they could not get through the university.

For example, there is one female SCMer who told me that her encounter with the empowerment program and gender’s issue within SCM encouraged her to struggle for women’s right through the law enforcement as she studies the law in the university. She also gives herself to be the counselor for a wife of her neighbour who were violated or abused by her husband. I was really impressed by her enthusiasm and spirit of community caring.

Personal Reflection

In the beginning, I came to Timor Leste with lots of worries because of the conflict history between Indonesia and East Timor. I asked myself, “how they would see me for I am Indonesian”, “what language should I use whether English, Indonesian or Tetun, would Timorese SCM welcome me to work together with them, study together, discuss together or even living together” after the violent upheaval during almost 25 years.

After my one first week staying in Dili, I came to realize that most of my worries were false. It did not become reality at all as I met people who are friendly and open to my ideas and sharing.

Nina Nayoan
Jakarta, Medio, August 2005