Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Writer profile: Almerio

Merio was one of the first people to contact me to find out more about the project, but we didn't get a chance to meet until today due to his busy schedule working as a journalist and trainer at TLMDC, the Timor Leste Media Development Centre.

After growing up mainly in East Timor, in the late 90s Merio decided to head to Universitas Cendrawasih in Jayapura, West Papua to study philosophy. Much like in philosophy courses back home, they start with the Greeks and move on from there. Merio quickly realised that Eastern philosophy was his thing and, inspired by the violent revolution in Jakarta in 1998 and back home in 1999, he devoured everything written by Mahatma Gandhi, especially the principles of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha (truth). He eventually wrote his thesis on the applicability of non-violent struggle in an Indonesian context.

After completing his studies, Merio returned to Timor Leste in 2001 and began work as a journalist. While in Papua he had already written for many of the local newspapers so he was able to use that experience into a job contributing to the Union of Catholic Asian News service based in Bangkok and a number of local newspapers.

When he returned to Timor in 2001, Merio packed up all the books he had accumulated during his university years and shipped them back to form the kernel of his own miniature library. Every time he goes to Indonesia now he tries to bring back a box of books to add to it. He finds it tough to add to his collection in Timor because books are so expensive, but when he has something he really wants he saves up money and orders a whole box of books through the Optik bookstore in Colmera to bring the shipping costs down. His collection includes some of his favourite authors including Albert Camus, Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Nietzsche and, of course, Mahatma Gandhi.

Driven by what they saw as a lack of serious investigative journalism in Timor Leste, Merio and a few friends set up the Kla'ak blog where they post articles on politics, society, culture and economics with a humanitarian bent.

While he writes mostly articles these days, Merio has filled a whole exercise book with poems and has written a number of short stories and longer fiction. He writes mainly in Tetum, but says he finds it frustrating as there is still no standard spelling or vocabulary and often needs to import words to flesh out his ideas.

Merio hasn't yet decided what he wants to write about in his Istoria Timor, but the 2006 crisis is still weighing heavily on his mind and he would like a chance to try and deal with that.

With all this talk recently of another potential flare-up in violence, maybe a book like this is what Timor really needs...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Galp delivering books to Timorese schools


[translated via google. Portuguese original follows english text. Anyone reposting this might want to note that the translation is very unofficial. - JMM/ETAN]

Galp Energia delivering books to Timorese schools

Dili, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Nearly seven thousand books collected in a campaign of Galp Energia in Portugal were today delivered to the Ministry of Education in East Timor Portuguese embassy in Dili.

The books were symbolically delivered by Ambassador of Portugal, Joao Ramos Pinto, to the vice minister of Education of East Timor, Paulo Assis.

The titles, in Portuguese, will be distributed by schools throughout the country.
At the same time, there was an exhibition of works by East Timorese trainees of intensive courses in Portuguese, which took place between July and September 2008.

Paulo Assis said that "the choice to reintroduce the Portuguese in East Timor was the Timorese, to someone else, not from Portugal or Brazil."

The Deputy Minister of Education thanked the efforts of teachers who exchanged the months of holidays in the calendar year to achieve the intensive courses.
During two months of school holidays, the courses covered 90 teachers and 2100 Portuguese Timorese trainees.


Segunda-feira, Outubro 20, 2008

( Energia entrega livros a escolas timorenses

Díli, 20 Out (Lusa) - Cerca de sete mil livros recolhidos numa campanha da Galp Energia em Portugal foram hoje entregues ao Ministério da Educação timorense na Embaixada de Portugal em Díli.

Os livros foram entregues simbolicamente pelo embaixador de Portugal, João Ramos Pinto, ao vice-ministro da Educação de Timor-Leste, Paulo Assis.

Os títulos, em português, serão distribuídos pelas escolas em todo o país.

Ao mesmo tempo, foi apresentada uma exposição de trabalhos efectuados pelos formandos timorenses dos cursos intensivos de português, que decorreram entre Julho e Setembro de 2008.

Paulo Assis declarou que “a escolha de reintroduzir a língua portuguesa em Timor-Leste foi dos timorenses, de mais ninguém, não de Portugal ou do Brasil”.

O vice-ministro da Educação agradeceu o esforço dos professores que trocaram os meses de férias no calendário anual para concretizar os cursos intensivos.

Durante dois meses de férias escolares, os cursos abrangeram 90 professores portugueses e 2100 formandos timorenses.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Competition launched / Kompetisaun Komesa Tiha Ona

We launched the competition on Wednesday the first of October 2008 by sending an announcement to the ETAN mailing list and starting to hand out and stick up the flyers.

Our Tetum flyer*

We've had a great response so far with a lot of people calling up and emailing saying they want to enter. Journalists have been the most common occupation but we have had interest from office workers, students, theatre troupe members, waitresses, security guards and even a few people who are looking for work.

Their first question is normally "does it need to be history or can we write in fiction?". As I alluded to in an earlier post, unfortunately our project name has a bit of a historical ring to it so this confusion is understandable... We're still in the market for a new name if anyone has a good suggestion.

We are in talks with a few different organisation that may be able to help us promote this nationwide including CARE (who publish the excellent Lafaek magazine that gets sent to every single school student in the country once a month), a World Bank program that has connections to youth centres all over the country and two different national journalist associations.

Local journalist Steph March who reports for Radio Australia came and interviewed me the day we launched the competition and this report hit the airwaves this morning. Probably not terribly useful in getting the word out to potential contestants, but will be quite useful for finding funding sources once we move on to the printing stage.

In addition to interviewing people that we are lending books to, I'd like to start interviewing writers too. I'm off to Indonesia tomorrow or the day after, but I'll try and get an interview with an author up here soon.

If you'd like to help us promote the competition, please email me at johnholdaway (at) gmail (dot) com.

* I stole the image of the reading crocodile (well, technically it's an alligator) from the website I acknowledged on the flyer. I tried to contact the guy who drew it but he never responded... Oh well, we are a non-profit organisation, hopefully he won't mind.

PS - If you are the guy I stole the image from, let us know if you want us to stop using it and we'll find a new one.