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Visiting Salesian says Timor needs to beat the 'dreamers'

East Timor has made significant progress since the devastation wrought by pro-Indonesian militia in 1999, but periodic reality checks are needed to ensure reconstruction remains on track, Br Marcal Lopes said during a visit to Perth last week.

The Salesian school principal, who has just completed a tour of all Australian states, said that despite many problems, East Timor has progressed far in three years since the militia-led riots.

He suggested expectations of that a better life would materialise for East Timorese as soon as they were freed from Indonesian rule were unrealistic and counterproductive.

"Dreams are fine if they lead to practical benefits," he said. "But it's my observation many dreamers have their feet firmly planted in mid-air."

"In just 10 days, a great deal of East Timor's infrastructure - its houses, shops, schools and so on - were burned, smashed or looted during the rampage by pro-Jakarta militia and their retreating TNI (Indonesian Army) mentors.

"As a nation we are deeply indebted to Australia and the international community for their assistance in peace enforcement, peacekeeping and nation building," Bro Lopes said. But he added the rebuilding had highlighted that East Timor was a nation with more than its fair share of dreamers."

Catholic Record

Problems? Sure, but there is always hope - Br Marcal Lopes, Salesian school principal in East Timor (Catholic Weekly 8/9/02)
Salesian work in East Timor (Salesian Bulletin)

4 Oct 2002