I’m writing this from Timor Leste (East Timor) where my wife Pip and I moved in April to begin a two-year stint with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).
We’ve settled in well but home feels a long way away, and Ireland even further. Quite a few Kiwis live here and there are enough Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the capital, Dili.
At our Tetun language classses I met two young Irish women working for the UN and, in the town of Maliana, a woman from Tipperary whose mother lives not far from where my Martin forebears hail. Many Irish are here for the same reasons as the Kiwis – to help rebuild a new, very small country.
Timor Leste is the world’s first nation of the 21st century. It was a priority for Irish aid when the Celtic Tiger was roaring in 2003 but Ireland closed its aid office in Dili last October. Read the rest of this entry »