From Timor Leste to Australia ed. Jan Trezise

Timor Leste

a nutshell: this first-of-its-kind book shares deeply personal and often gripping recollections from seven East Timorese families who ultimately made their homes in Melbourne’s City of Casey

a line: “I remember their fear, which for us children translated into terror” (Emilia, Florindo family)

an image: I enjoyed Berta’s anecdote about the first day of courtship with her husband-to-be, Luis, who mistakenly thought he should arrive in the early morning and turned up at the family home when she was out in the fields picking peanuts (Berta, Santos family)

a thought: as demonstrated above, the interviews with family members prompted a mixture of heart-rending and light-hearted memories – I learned a great deal from this book and it is a real credit to the students and community members who were involved in making it

a fact: the chronology of East Timor’s key historical events was v useful, and I was happy to see it originated from the Alola Foundation (an org I came to know through my work with IWDA) – here’s an online timeline

want to read From Timor Leste to Australia? visit here

Beatriz’s War, co-written by Irim Tolentino

a nutshell: Timor-Leste’s historic first feature film tells an immensely powerful story of one woman’s infatigable courage during the Indonesian occupation – co-written (and acted!) by Irim Tolentino, whose short stories and poems have yet to be translated from Tetun into English…

a line: “When I close my eyes I see only the past, the horrors of those days. Let me become blind to that, to see the world as it could be.”

an image: in one very moving scene, the women of a village gather where Indonesian soldiers killed their husbands, fathers and sons one year after their murder to collect the bones, pay their respects to the dead, and end their mourning; they shed their grief and remove their black garments to reveal vibrant clothes below

a thought: I spoke to Tolentino as part of my work for the International Women’s Development Agency and wanted to share a thought from her, rather than me: “As women of Timor-Leste, we’ve been looking for more chances to explore and express our thoughts and talents. Until now, many of us struggled to keep these things alive. Music, arts, film and poetry have less attention and support in our society although the demand is there.”

a fact: Tolentino told me that she submitted a story about friendship and loss to a writing competition (‘Istoria Timor’, or ‘Story of Timor’) based on diary extracts; she later designed a cover and arranged for printing, but the story was never published – here’s hoping we someday get to read her writing in English

want to watch Beatriz’s War? visit here