On July 7, I went to the polls—along with my fellow citizens of Timor-Leste—to participate in a notable election: not only did we elect a new parliament for the second time in our young country’s history, but we also voted in general elections that
The road south out of Dili climbs steadily, winding back and forth with spectacular switchbacks on a paved but narrow road, one of the few that crosses Timor-Leste, ultimately reaching the country’s south coast. I am told Timor-Leste is about the size of Connecticut – a state I have traversed many times in just a couple of hours. Here, a couple of hours might get you into the middle of the country, but certainly not all the way across. Of cours
I was sitting in the still, hot, and humid air on the porch of a Franciscan nunnery in Natarbora, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Dili. In the quiet night, the only noise I could hear was the thump of a bass guitar coming through large speakers. I asked Godwin Kamtukule, an engineer from Malawi who is the deputy manager of USAID’s water and sanitation program in Timor-Leste, how long he expected the noise to persist.
Just weeks into my new assignment in Timor-Leste, I was thrilled to be traveling with a group of colleagues to the country’s remote exclave of Oecusse. By catching a ride on a UN helicopter, our team was able to cut out nearly a day of travel, including clearing the four border checkpoints required to make the trip overland. Located geographically within the borders of Indonesia, the district is separated from the rest of Timor-Leste not only spatially, but culturally and linguistically as well.