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Farewell to Timor

This blog entry will be my last, unfortunately. My time in Timor Leste has come to a close. Things ended a bit abruptly earlier this month when I was medivaced from Dili to Singapore with hemorrhagic dengue.

I recognised the signs from years ago in Central America when I contracted the illness in Nicaragua. Aches and pains, an intense headache and generalised weakness set in abruptly. A fever and rash appeared later. In Timor, things got a bit more complicated because my blood platelet levels plummeted. Luckily, there’s a very good clinic at the Australian Embassy and a doctor there sent me immediately for blood tests at the Dili National Hospital. The results showed I might need a blood transfusion if the platelets continued to drop.

After a three hour flight, I was admitted to a hospital in Singapore. The medical staff provided professional and courteous care. A Concern staff member from Cambodia flew over to accompany me through my five-day hospital stay. I’m very grateful to everyone who took care of me, especially Clare Danby, Concern’s Country Director in Timor who arranged the evacuation. I’m now recuperating in Bali for a few days. I’ll head home to Alaska later this week via a somewhat circuitous route: two weeks in Thailand, followed by ten days in Ireland, and a month in New York visiting family and friends.

I thank Concern for giving me the opportunity to work in Timor Leste. It’s been an amazing, fascinating, and, at times, challenging experience that I will not soon forget.

Timor Leste faces enormous hurdles on its road to reconstruction and nation-building after hundreds of years of neglect and oppression as a colony of Portugal and later Indonesia. But the Timorese tend to be strong and resilient people who love their country passionately. And there are many signs that the future can bring a bit of prosperity and little less suffering. Hopefully, the government and the many NGOs working in Timor, including Concern, will continue to build capacity within the local population and help people forge better and more secure lives for themselves and their families. I hope to return at some point.