Grounds manager isn’t part of my official job description here in Timor-Leste. I But since we live on a large church complex, it’s become kind of a side job. Aside from the clinic where we live in an attached apartment, we also have the church, two large outbuildings and a significant bit of land aside the church. One of the buildings is a house where 4 youth from a nearby village live while they are in school. The other is a Sunday School building.
Recently we’ve been doing some security improvements on the compound because unfortunately in March we had a break-in. It’s a long story but someone broke-in a side window of our house on a Sunday morning while Monica and the kids were in church here and I was at a village church. The thief stole $500.00 of the church’s money – about a year’s worth of offerings.
I could be wrong but I attribute the break-in to one of Timor-Leste’s increasingly concerning issues: unemployed young men with seemingly little hope for the future. There’s really no reason anyone should be unemployed here though. Lospalos is surrounded by fertile land and there is abundant water. Recently though I have heard from youth that their friends are “moe” (embarresed/ashamed) to do agricultural work. Social media has opened the world up for these young people and they seem to think that modernity and technology are where it’s at. The result? Most seem content to stare at a smart phone rather than pick up a hoe or fix a fence.
There is however a silver lining to all this. The break-in has motivated us to repair and place barbed wire a top the wall surrounding an underutilized bit of land next to the church (photo above). In recent years no one has been motivated to do anything with the land because they assume someone will steel whatever might be growing there (as they often do now with the bananas growing there). So hopefully with the space now secured we can work with our youth group and plant some papaya, cassava and vegetables. And hopefully doing that will do a tiny bit to help restore a bit of dignity to rural life and farming.