Last night I spent several hours with two Timorese men who were stolen from their parents during the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste. It’s estimated that several thousand children were forcibly removed to Indonesia during its 24-year occupation of Timor Leste. One of the men I met last night was taken when he was 8 years old. At the time, he was recruited to “help out” the military police. Not long after he was “adopted” by Indonesian parents and taken to Sulawesi where he’s lived ever since.
Both of these men are part of a program initiated by Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and supported by civil society groups in Timor Leste and Indonesia. Global Ministries is also involved in the program, which is how I had the opportunity to be involved.
The objective is to reunite the stolen Timorese children with their families. So far about 65 cases have been identified and 30 visits have happened. The men I met last night had been away from their families for 24 and 30 years. Although the stories are heart wrenching, this is important, moving and hope-filled work. Listening to the stories of the two men and their families gave me hope. This work is evidence that although the wounds of war cannot be completely undone, reconciliation can happen and people can heal. Thank you Karen Campbell-Nelson for inviting us to be part of it!