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Timor Leste Tools for Change participants

Tools for Change in Timor Leste

Friday, 23. September 2016

Tools for Change in Timor Leste

A year ago Haridas and Tia Nair, Patrick Santa Maria and Robert Chen from Malaysia were invited by friends in Timor Leste to assist them by providing IofC training programmes. They spent this past year preparing it. They have sent this report:

‘If you want to change others, start with yourself first’

The team flew out from Kuala Lumpur on 12 July 2016 and after an overnight stay at Bali, flew the following morning to Dili, the capital of Timor Leste, a newly Independent nation. We were there for six days and flew back to Kuala Lumpur on the 19 July 2016.

Following 450 years of rule by the Portuguese and following a brief period of independence, East Timor was annexed by Indonesia at the end of 1975. Since then conflict has raged with the heavy presence of the Indonesian military. Following a UN referendum, 78% of the East Timorese voted in favour of independence. The country has a majority of Roman Catholics (98%) with 1% being Muslim and the rest of other persuasions. The official languages are Tetun, Portuguese, Indonesian and English. This country today boasts a population of 1.2 million inhabitants.

Our local hosts had secured a venue at the Human Rights Centre where the two day Initiatives of Change 'Tools for Change' programme was held. All 24 participants engaged in this programme.

Tools for Change was run over the course of two days followed by two separate programmes. These were Creators of Peace for 13 women and Initiators of Peace for 11 men. Throughout the four days, the participants actively joined in and we got to know all of them very well. They stayed on to engage with us and on the last day shared their experiences.

‘I agree with you Uncle Haridas all the way’

From the participants’ evaluation, the feedback was very positive. Many said that they would like to have such workshops conducted again, and that they were willing to share what they have learned with their friends and family. They said that they understood what was talked about, in spite of continuous translations, and were willing to practice having regular times of quiet each day. One thing that was very prominent in the feedback was the honesty of sharing among themselves, and how therapeutic that was for them.

Several took first steps in honesty and reconciliation and wrote letters of both apology and honesty.


  • It motivated me to change and to start from myself. Very inspiring. I understand the idea about IQ and EQ (emotional quotient).
  • I got a chance to understand myself and to see the light inside me. You all have helped me to discover this.
  • I love the part when we have sharing session and to get the idea and motivations from others.
  • Learnt about Quiet time and apply in my life.
  • To change myself I have to really apply what I have leant .
  • I hope to apply ‘searching in the right place’, and try to make a quiet time and start making a change in my life.
  • Thanks for sharing your life experience and journey with us, the young people, who for most of time have lost our connection and direction. Thank you so much for our wonderful facilitators from Malaysia.
  • The lessons in this programme are so important and I think it could be emphasized more how the group could strategize to create similar workshops/share this information with other friends and community.
  • I want to contribute more to IofC in Timor-Leste and be stronger personally to support young people.


The light is getting brighter at the end of the dark tunnel in Timor Leste because there are 24 young men and women of Timor Leste who will not allow the darkness to overwhelm them anymore.

Read reports of Initiators of Peace session for men and Creators of Peace workshop for women