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Giving a Sense of Purpose to 13,000 IDPs

Tuesday 6 June, 2006

Giving a Sense of Purpose to 13,000 IDPs

Cleaning camps – With 13,000 IDPs it is important the camp is kept clean to stem the spread of disease, it also serves as giving people something useful to do.

DILI, TIMOR LESTE - The Dom Bosco College in Dili is one of the largest IDP camps in the city, a sprawling six hectare compound that is home to approximately 13,000. Most, around 8,000 fled to the College after 28 April, with a further 5,000 arriving in the subsequent weeks as burnings and lootings continued.

The College has a history of housing IDPs, being one of the first camps established during the violence of 1999 and again in 2002.

Caritas Australia and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have both been involved in distribution to the camps of food and non-food items, including rice, mosquito nets, soap, women’s kits, wheel barrows and spades; with latrines supplied by the New Zealand embassy in Dili.

Father Adriano (pointing directs) those in charge of cleaning up the Dom Bosco IDP, areas that need some maintenance.

Father Adriano is the camp coordinator, an intelligent and articulate priest for which no job seems too big or impossible.

He says that one of the reasons for the unrest is the high state of unemployment in the country with around 70-80 percent of young people being without a job or any prospect of future employment. “They need something to do, to be kept busy.”

In the camp, Father Adriano has organised a number of jobs, with that purpose – to keep people busy.

Classrooms have been cleared to make way for a temporary school, as there are over 30 teachers living in the camp. Yesterday was the first day of the initiative and Father Adriano is optimistic that is will be beneficial to both children, who have had their education interrupted, and parents.

In addition to the school, a group has been formed to take care of camp maintenance. Father Adriano says they will be in charge of cleaning the existing latrines, digging new ones and cleaning up the compound, with equipment supplied by CRS. “They are ready to work,” he said.

Father Adriano also believes that by working together, it will be one of the first steps in rebuilding East/West relations and peace.

As to how long people may remain in the camps, Father Adriano says it could be for quite some time and that it is important to work on building peace in the camps before people return to their neighbourhoods.

However long they remain, taking care of 13,000 people is a huge undertaking and one that Father Adriano does with quiet humility.


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