Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In the ruts of life

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So it appears we might be in a rut of doing the same old, same old.  You know the usual hoohaa of life here in Timor Leste – bumpy roads, getting sick, giving a bit, lots of chocolate coloured skin and so forth.  The good news is that things are relatively quiet here.  Bele Kria has undergone an amazing business turn-around.  Just when Cynthia is about to give up, the women hold on and want to keep working.  There’s a re-shuffle in operation and for some strange reason some big orders come in for making sanitary pads which was Cynthia’s original driving passion for starting the group.  Red Cross have ordered 1800 pads and 400 bags.  CARE has also ordered 500 pads.  This has resulted in doubling staff numbers over the last couple of months.  There just seems to be increased awareness of this issue in general in Timor Leste.  We hope that this continues, not just for the sake of the small business but, perhaps more importantly, the women who benefit from this product.
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Another cool outcome has been the arrival of 1600 maize shellers and 600 corn grinders.  This has been the result of 2 years of research and work on resolving issues around labour for farming families.  It started with getting my mate in Los Palos to write down every day about labour related to corn production.  We identified the area of getting the kernels off the cob as the next big issue (after improved seed, soil fertility, storage and fencing).  Thanks to support from Seeds of Life, we could order in a full container load of these hand cranked little beauties.  This little project really got absorbed into SoL and another project involved in supplying drums for corn storage (IFAD).  I’m toying with the idea of importing barbed wire and chicken wire along with more grinders buts its a tiring process.
I’ve finished a short course with 5-6 students teaching the Old Testament.  Some work has started on informally translating portions of the Old Testament.  Exodus 20, Numbers 13 and Jonah have been translated and are at various stages of draft checking.  The usual dribble of donated goods, clothes, laptops, scriptures and money leak out of our house. 
I got to go to Malaysia on a surprise invite to discuss historical weather data in Timor-Leste.  This was important to strengthen links between meteorology in TL with Met Services in other Sth East Asian countries.  Unfortunately, a country boy from Oz does not fit so well in the shopping mecca of Kuala Lumpur.
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Inside Petronis Tower, KL.  Didn’t buy any make-up here but did manage a little conversation with security about taking video footage.
Malaysia is strongly Muslim which was an eye-opener for me, here’s a scene at Mc Donald’s.2014-05-29 13.18.49
On the subject of shopping, the kids were delighted to find a new brand of ice-cream in Dili – choc mint flavoured “Dung-Dung” ice cream.
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We’ve been blessed with the visit of Samuel’s mum who came to stay with us.  We took her on a journey up into the mountains to check on a couple of weather stations and replace a data logger in one.  The road got a little rough with very deep ruts and the usual mud flinging. 
Serenity’s pretty keen to learn to drive.  Unfortunately, a recent sortie took us into un-tracked river.  Being the man, I got back in the driver’s seat to get the car back on track.  Instead, I got the Great Wall fully stuck in silty mud – after 5 hours of effort a mate pulled us out with a winch (only after pulling out a land cruiser that also got stuck trying to rescue us) …ooops

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