Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dili, Timor Leste

Dear Family & Friends,

Here we are in Timor Leste. If there was ever a country in need of a ship like Mercy, this is it! One of the newest countries to join the United Nations (in 2002), it is also one of the poorest in the world today with an average per capita GDP of only $2500. The island of Timor is divided roughly in half with West Timor a part of Indonesia and the eastern half its own independent country. It is actually a beautiful island with a very moderate climate this time of year. This is Mercy’s third trip to Timor Leste - a brief stop was made in 2005 and then again in 2006.

To give you an idea of the poverty here, I was told the other day by the American Ambassador that over 90% of the population (roughly 1.1 million) cooks using wood fires. Of course, with the price of oil these days, we could be doing that real soon back in the States. Timor Leste, formally known as East Timor, was a Portuguese colony from about the 16th century until 1975 when it was granted independence. Shortly thereafter, East Timor was invaded and annexed by Indonesia. In 1999, after a particularly brutal occupation, Indonesia caved to international pressure and granted a UN referendum to allow East Timor to vote for independence. The vote for independence was overwhelmingly approved. Unfortunately, extremely violent clashes broke out - mostly instigated by the departing Indonesian military forces. A peacekeeping force led by Australia intervened to restore order.

Nation building is never an easy task. There is a full time UN peacekeeping and police force here now; however, our friends in Australia still have the lead…and doing a heck of a job. There is still a lot of “bad blood” here although I sense a real desire from the people I’ve met to put the past behind them and look to the future. For those of us on Mercy; we’ve got our work cut out for us!

One more thing: I would like to wish my brother Joe a very Happy Birthday!

More to come…



Navy Mom said...

Hello Captain Wiley,

as always, it is not only interesting to read your blog, but also very informative, I have learned a lot through you, thanks a bunch for that.
Wishing you success in Dili, help the people there as best as your abilities allow and some more, you have wonderful people on board who, I'm sure, give their best.
Stay safe, my prayers are with you all on the Mercy,

thanks for all you all do, there are no words for it but a simple Thanks, Gracia, Hvala, Danke, Merci, Mahalo, Com On,Salamat, and I guess, you will hear a lot Terima Kasih in Timor Leste :):):)

Keep up the good work, take good care of the crew and yourself,

Renate Di-Do :)

Colin Hackwood said...

Dear Capt. Wiley,
From all of us here at Operation Smile Australia, we wish you and your crew the very best wishes for your time in Dili. Our team is very excited at the prospect of embarking this afternoon, and being involved with this unique opportunity to improve the lives of so many Timorese children!
Dr Richard Lewandowski, our founder, is Team Leader for this mission, and I hope you have the opportunity to meet with him during the course of the next week.
Colin Hackwood
General Manager - Operation Smile Australia

Mr. Gill said...

G'day Skipper,
From the message below, sent by one of my more thoughtful employees, I too felt that Rose deserves roses. However, due to the "Mercy-less" Navy e-mail system, I have been unable to send Roses for my Rose. So, kind and noble sir, if you would be so accomodating as to pass these roses for Rose to her in the "unit", I would be greatly inbebted.

Mr. Gill
P.S. My Lil Irish Rose did mention how pleased she was by your personal touch of delivering these messages to her publicly in the unit. (wink, wink)

From: Carmela <...>
Sent: Tue Jul 15 18:46:18 2008
Subject: roses for Rose ...

They ("Wild Blue Yonders") are on their last leg of the bloom period, but still pretty. For some reason, whenever I look at them, I think of your Rose working hard so far away. Thought she might like these.

wendy said...

G'day Captain Wiley,
We wish you all the best for a successful mission with the Operation Smile Team. If you have a moment could you say g'day to our mum, the grey haired wonder (Helen). We are extremely proud of her and the team. Kind regards Wendy and Jodie

kseraksera said...

Dear Capt. Wiley
A huge thanks to Sarah Rice for sharing this wonderful blog with her former
co-workers from Corpus Christi, Texas. The entire blog is so emotionally
sobering especially the last from Manilla. I can just imagine the pride they
feel at the end of each work day and know the pride I feel for such a
wonderful group representing all of us back home.

Marcia Schultz

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