Charity

We may need your help

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FIRE APPEAL

The alarming situation with forest fires in Portugal has become very worrying in recent days. In 2017 the OSMTHU has closely followed the tragedy that struck various parts of the country, claiming lives and incinerating vast areas of forests in the Templar regions north of the Tagus river and in the historic Pinewood of Leiria.

This year, the Commandery of Lisbon – Chagas Hill and the Commandery of Laccobriga (based in Lagos, just 25 miles from the main area being consumed at this very moment in the Algarve province) have already got involved with a few volunteers in support of those who struggle to extinguish the alarming threat on the ground. However, the weather is unpredictable and the past has taught us how the situation can change in a heart beat.

We then ask all Templar Globe readers who wish to support the efforts being made on the ground by our team, that include the donation and transport of supplies, water, food and medicines, to make a donation using the following account of the Commandery:

IBAN: PT50 0193 0000 1050 1984 5524 5

All help, regardless of size, is needed and appreciated.

Please, if you donate, send us an email with your name and contacts to osmthu@mail.com so that we can acknowledge your contribution and send you the final REPORT ON THE FIRE APPEAL by September 1st with details on donations and use of proceeds.

Please, pray for us.

For any other information, please contact:

Fr+ José Miguel da Fabiana, Coordination of Operations

miguelfabiana@gmail.com

+351.917500402

osmthu.org


IN THE MEDIA

EL MUNDO (Español)

THE INDEPENDENT (English)

LE MONDE (Français)


UPDATE August 7, 22:42

A new car with supplies was dispatched to the theater of operations. The logistic coordination centre of the Order is located in the Headquarters of the Firefighters of Portimão. Ask for João Pedro Silva.

Tomorrow, August 8, Commander Victor Varela Martins will be available along the morning and early afternoon to accept bottled water, energy bars and medicines as he travels from Madrid, Toledo, Talavera de lá Reina, Mérida and Badajoz to Évora. He’s expected to meet the Commanders of Sintra and Arraiolos in Évora at 18:00. If you wish to meet them, you can get in touch with Commander Victor by phone on: +351.93.701.78.36

UPDATE August 7, 23:35

Arriving at the theater of operations is a desolating experience:

“Fiery sparks fall from the sky. The road side catches fire instantly. There are hundreds of small burning spots everywhere. Fire locations are 100 times more in number than the available means. It’s an uneven fight. All that remains is to defend and resist. God help us.”

(…) “We have just given a cell phone to a poor unprotected person who lives near the fire line who had no way of contacting his family. There are many ways to be of help.” (Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

UPDATE August 8, 06:47

New report from the theater of operations:

“We safely finished our mission. We spent the night distributing food and water. The situation seems calmer, a good change from the chaos at 11pm. There was a great calm at dawn, the wind was very strong but the temperatures have dropped drastically. We hope the won’t be any new fires throughout the day. ” (Fr + João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ and Brother Fernando Miranda

UPDATE August 8, 12:03

New report from the theater of operations:

“We left the front at 7am convinced that the problem was finally over. Unfortunately, there is  news of intense resurfacing and a new front of fire. It’s the wind. The situation is infernal. The temperature at dawn has been around 12 degrees, so that is not the main cause. It’s an endless nightmare. Tonight I saw myself multiple spontaneous ignitions, out of nowhere, at the same time and close to me. It looks like mushrooms of fire popping up from the ground. It was not arson. They were not projections from ongoing flames. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to be alive. Any explanation we may have on this subject is pure speculation. (Fr + João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

UPDATE August 8, 12:05

After departing on his journey from Madrid, the Commander of Lagos, Victor Varela Martins, arrives in Toledo where he collects product donations coordinated with our friends of the Sigillum Templi Group (special thanks to Victor Alfonso Padilla Nieto).

UPDATE August 8, 12:30

Fr+ Jorge Amador, KTJ shares photos of the fight against the flames last night and this morning.

UPDATE August 8, 13:19

Commander Paulo Valente of Sintra confirms that he has collected product donations in Elvas.

UPDATE August 8, 14:30

Commanders Paulo Valente of Sintra and Rui Herdadinha of Arraiolos begin operations to collect product donations at the logistics point selected in Évora.

UPDATE August 8, 18:00

Commander Victor Varela Martins joins the team already in Évora to prepare the cargo and startthe journey to Silves/Portimão.

UPDATE August 8, 18:43

Fire in Enxerim, at the gates of Silves. The fire progressed through several hills from the Odelouca Dam (+ 30km away).

UPDATE August 8, 20:03

Request of the Commander of Lagos:

“Brother Rui Herdadinha and I are on our way to the Silves Firefighters Station with a van full of goods to deliver. Anyone available to help with the load ??? We will arrive around 9pm.” (Fr + Victor Varela Martins, KCTJ)

UPDATE August 8, 21:50

Arrival at Silves Firefighters Station and unloading the goods.

UPDATE August 8, 23:02

The Commander of Arraiolos Rui Herdadinha gives a live interview to Antena 1 national radio.

UPDATE August 9, 00:00

The Order wishes to thank all the Brothers and Sisters who have shown their strength, imagining, organizing and rolling out this short operation, putting on the ground in record time. It should be noted that everyone returned home safely and without incidents. The way our social networks were activated, namely Facebook groups of the Order and of our Brothers and friends from all over the world, allowed us all to have the opportunity to participate and contribute to the success, from the rear to the theater of operations itself. I believe this is a first, both in extension and interaction in the contemporary the Templar world, which shows how relevan the Order still is today if we’re ready and willing.

To all, our deep “thank you”.

Luis de Matos
Prior General of Portugal
Chancellor of the OSMTHU


CREDITS*

Coordination of Operations (in different moments):

Fr+ Paulo Valente, KCTJ
Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, KCTJ
Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, KCTJ
Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ
Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana, KTJ

Volunteering:
D+ Catarina Silva, DTJ
Fr+ Jorge Amador, KTJ
Fr+ Filipe Silva, KTJ
D+ Paula Valente, DTJ
Fr+ Pedro Bernardo, KTJ
Sister Ana Martins
Brother Fernando Miranda
Brother Filipe Beja Simões
Brother Hugo Guerreiro
Brother Luís Neto
Brother Paulo Menegucci
Brother Tiago Sério
Postulant Carlos Walcher
Postulant Luis Almeida
Arsénio Miguel Condaça Lérias
David Manuel Freitas Chambel
Diogo José Macau Soares
Élsio José Campaniço Leocádio
Emanuel José Semedo Piteira
Fábio Manuel Tavares Mendes
Francisco Manuel Carmo Gemito
José Manuel Da Silva Rosado
Murillo Henrique Vieira da Silva
Miguel Ângelo Barbosa Catambas
Ruben Filipe Letras Vermelho

Contributions:
Fr+ Luis Fonseca, KCTJ
Fr+ Luis de Matos, KGCTJ
Irmão José Carlos Mateus

Acknowledgements:
A. J. Salvadinha II, Lda.
Agroreparadora lda
Alma de Muralha
Armazem 8
BUSF
Diana Peças Lda
Farmácia Évora
Fr+ Francisco Miguel Fernandez, OSMTH – Toledo
Fresenius Farmaceutica
Hidro Portugal Lda
JB Santana
Land Rover Évora
NautiEvora
Rurambiente
Sagres
Tintas Barbot
UniLubes Lda
Victor Alfonso Padilla Nieto
Fr+ Victor Mayenco
VitalAire Lda

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Podemos precisar de si

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A situação dos incêndios tem-se vindo a agravar nos últimos dias. A OSMTHU já acompanhou com atenção e preocupação a tragédia que se abateu em 2017 sobre diversos pontos do país, reclamando vidas e incinerando vastas áreas, em especial na floresta das regiões Templárias do norte do Tejo e no histórico Pinhal de Leiria.

Este ano a Comenda de Lisboa – Colina das Chagas e a Comenda de Laccobriga (Lagos) desencadearam já algumas acções de voluntariado de apoio aos que, no terreno, lutam para extinguir a ameaça. Contudo, o tempo é imprevisível e as lições do passado mostram-nos como tudo pode mudar num par de horas. Pedimos assim aos leitores do Templar Globe especialmente vocacionados para o voluntariado (apoio às populações e forças oficiais na recolha e distribuição de alimentação, água e medicamentos), que entrem em contacto connosco, de modo a melhor podermos coordenar os esforços se a situação se vier a prolongar.

Coordenação: Fr+ Miguel José da Fabiana

Contacto: miguelfabiana@gmail.com

+351.917500402

osmthu.org

Nota importante: Por questões de segurança só são admitidas no teatro de operações organizações de voluntários reconhecidas pela Autoridade Nacional de Protecção Civil (ANPC). O voluntariado civil deve terminar na entrega de bens nos quartéis de bombeiros, tal como o organizámos. Deve referir-se que as fotografias de membros da Ordem em pleno teatro de operações se referem a pessoas devidamente treinadas e certificadas no contexto de organizações reconhecidas pela Autoridade, designadamente a Associação de Protecção e Socorro (APROSOC). São desaconselháveis iniciativas individuais desenquadradas, as quais se revestem de um risco inútil. Antes de partir para o terreno, deverão conferir dados com o vosso Comendador.


NA MEDIA

PÚBLICO

JORNAL DE NOTÍCIAS

SIC NOTÍCIAS


ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 7, 22:42

Um novo carro com mantimentos foi enviado para o teatro de operações. O centro de coordenação logística da Ordem está localizado no Quartel de Bombeiros de Portimão. Perguntar por João Pedro Silva.

Amanhã, Agosto 8, o Comendador Victor Varela Martins estará disponível desde a manhã até ao final da tarde a recolher garrafas de água, barras de energia e medicamentos enquanto viaja de Madrid, por Toledo, Talavera de la Reina, Mérida e Badajoz até Évora. Espera encontrar-se com os Comendadores de Sintra e de de Arraiolos em Évora pelas 18:00. Se desejar encontrá-lo pode usar o seu telemóvel: Comendador Victor Varela Martins: +351.93.701.78.36

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 7, 23:35

Com a chegada ao teatro de operações os primeiros comentários são desoladores:

“Chovem fagulhas em chamas. As bermas da estrada pegam fogo instantaneamente. São centenas de pequenos pontos a arder por todo o lado. Os pontos de fogo são 100 vezes superiores aos meios disponíveis. É um combate desigual. Só resta defender e resistir. Deus nos proteja.”

(…) “Acabámos de dar telemóvel a um pobre desprotegido que mora aqui perto da linha do fogo e não tinha como contactar a família. Ajudar também é isto.” (Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 06:47

Novo relatório da frente de operações:

“Terminamos a missão em segurança. Passamos a noite a distribuir comida e água. A situação parece mais calma. Do caos às 23h passamos para grande acalmia de madrugada. O vento é muito forte mas as temperaturas caíram drasticamente. Esperemos que não hajam reacendimentos ao longo do dia.” (Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ e Irmão Fernando Miranda

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 12:03

Novo relatório da frente de operações:

“Saímos do teatro de operações às 7h convencidos que o problema estava finalmente dominado. Infelizmente já há notícias de reacendimentos intensos e uma nova frente de fogo. É o vento. Está infernal. Porque a temperatura de madrugada rondou os 12 graus e não é por aí. É um pesadelo sem fim. Esta noite assisti a múltiplas ignições espontâneas, do nada, ao mesmo tempo e perto de mim. Parecem pequenos cogumelos de fogo a nascerem sozinhos. Não foi fogo posto. Não foram projeções. O que é eu não sei mas aquilo parece que está vivo. Qualquer teoria que tenhamos sobre esta matéria é pura especulação. Isto é algo inenarrável.” (Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ)

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 12:05

Depois de iniciar a sua viagem em Madrid, o Comendador de Lagos, Victor Varela Martins, chega a Toledo onde recolhe donativos em género coordenado com os nossos amigos do Grupo Sigillum Templi (especial obrigado ao Victor Alfonso Padilla Nieto).

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 12:30

Fr+ Jorge Amador, KTJ partilha fotos do combate às chamas da noite anterior e da manhã deste dia.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 13:19

O Comendador Paulo Valente de Sintra confirma ter feito a recolha de donativos em género em Elvas.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 14:30

Os Comendadores Paulo Valente de Sintra e Rui Herdadinha de Arraiolos iniciam as operações de recolha de donativos em género no ponto logístico seleccionado em Évora.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 18:00

Comendador Victor Varela Martins junta-se à equipa já em Évora para prepara a carga e arrancar em direcção a Portimão.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 18:43

Incêndio chega a Enxerim, às portas de Silves. O fogo progrediu por vários cerros a partir da Barragem de Odelouca (+30km).

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 20:03

Pedido do Comendador de Lagos:

“Eu e o irmão Rui Herdadinha estamos a caminho dos Bombeiros de Silves com uma carrinha cheia de bens para ajuda aos bombeiros. Algum irmão com disponibilidade para ir ajudar??? Chegaremos pelas 21 e pouco.” (Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, KCTJ)

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 21:50

Chegada ao Quartel de Bombeiros de Silves e descarga.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 8, 23:02

Entrevista em directo do Comendador de Arraiolos, Rui Herdadinha, à Antena 1.

ACTUALIZAÇÃO Agosto 9, 00:00

A Ordem deseja agradecer a todos os Irmãos e Irmãs que mostraram a sua fibra, imaginando, organizando e colocando no terreno esta curta operação num espaço de tempo record. Salienta-se que todos regressaram a casa a salvo e sem incidentes. O modo como as redes sociais foram accionadas, designadamente os grupos de Facebook da Ordem e dos nossos Irmãos e amigos de todo o mundo, permitiu que todos tivéssemos a oportunidade de participar e contribuir para o êxito, desde a retaguarda ao próprio teatro de operações. Cremos que é um exemplo único e a primeira vez que tal acontece, tanto em extensão como em interacção no mundo Templário contemporâneo, o que vem mostrar mais uma vez como a Ordem continua relevante hoje, se estivermos prontos e disponíveis.

A todos, um agradecimento profundo.

Luis de Matos
Prior Geral de Portugal
Chanceler Internacional da OSMTHU


CRÉDITOS DA OPERAÇÃO*

Coordenação (em vários momentos e frentes):

Fr+ Paulo Valente, KCTJ
Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, KCTJ
Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, KCTJ
Fr+ João Pedro Silva, KTJ
Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana, KTJ

Voluntariado:
D+ Catarina Silva, DTJ
Fr+ Jorge Amador, KTJ
Fr+ Filipe Silva, KTJ
D+ Paula Valente, DTJ
Fr+ Pedro Bernardo, KTJ
Irmã Ana Martins
Irmão Fernando Miranda
Irmão Filipe Beja Simões
Irmão Hugo Guerreiro
Irmão Luís Neto
Irmão Paulo Menegucci
Irmão Tiago Sério
Postulante Carlos Walcher
Postulante Luis Almeida
Arsénio Miguel Condaça Lérias
David Manuel Freitas Chambel
Diogo José Macau Soares
Élsio José Campaniço Leocádio
Emanuel José Semedo Piteira
Fábio Manuel Tavares Mendes
Francisco Manuel Carmo Gemito
José Manuel Da Silva Rosado
Murillo Henrique Vieira da Silva
Miguel Ângelo Barbosa Catambas
Ruben Filipe Letras Vermelho

Contribuições:
Fr+ Luis Fonseca, KCTJ
Fr+ Luis de Matos, KGCTJ
Irmão José Carlos Mateus

Agradecimentos:
A. J. Salvadinha II, Lda.
Agroreparadora lda
Alma de Muralha
Armazem 8
BUSF
Diana Peças Lda
Farmácia Évora
Fr+ Francisco Miguel Fernandez, OSMTH – Toledo
Fresenius Farmaceutica
Hidro Portugal Lda
JB Santana
Land Rover Évora
NautiEvora
Rurambiente
Sagres
Tintas Barbot
UniLubes Lda
Victor Alfonso Padilla Nieto
Fr+ Victor Mayenco
VitalAire Lda

 

 

 

World Watch IX – Foreign aid – Voice of disenchantment

Posted on Updated on

refugee-749664

TEN years ago, it would have been hard to find anyone to question the wisdom and morality of the rich world giving billions of dollars in help to the poor world. A generation reared on Live Aid held these truths to be self-evident. Now, the intellectual trend is all the other way. A stream of economists, politicians and even disillusioned do-gooders have penned powerful critiques of every aspect of aid and the aid industry; men like Paul Collier, William Easterly and Robert Calderisi. Even the high priests of aid, pop stars such as Bono and Bob Geldolf, now preach a much more nuanced and complex gospel than they did in the 1980s.

Yet the intellectual arguments about aid are still conducted largely within a small circle of Western white men. So it is good to welcome a new voice to the debate, and a black African woman too, Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian economist at Goldman Sachs. It is remarkable that so few voices have been raised in Africa, supposedly the main beneficiary of the world’s largesse, about how the aid money should be spent, or even whether it should be received at all.

Unfortunately, Ms Moyo’s contribution ends there, for “Dead Aid” does not move the debate along much. Yes, she has joined the chorus of disapproval—and that in itself might surprise a few diehards who think that Africans should just be grateful for the aid and shut up. But her arguments are scarcely original and her plodding prose makes her the least stylish of the critics.

Moreover, she overstates her case, almost to the point of caricature. There is almost nobody left, even in the aid lobby, who seriously thinks that bilateral (government-to-government) aid is the sole answer to world poverty, as she suggests. “Trade not aid” is only one of several newish mantras among aidniks that seem to have passed her by.

Nonetheless, Ms Moyo is right to argue that the rich world—and Africa—should now focus on other ways of helping poor countries. Ms Moyo shows how some countries, such as Ghana, have successfully tapped the bond markets for funds. She also has good discussions on the virtues of microfinance, venture capital and liberalising trade. By concentrating on these three, African governments might well raise more money on their own; some might even lessen their dependency on aid.

Private investors will always require good governance to ensure that their dollars are not misused. This “trumps all”, argues Ms Moyo. She won’t find many Africans who disagree with that. But getting governments like Nigeria’s or Kenya’s actually to walk the talk has proved a much tougher proposition.

in The Economist

USO Savannah Gets Some Help

Posted on Updated on


The USO is getting some much needed support.

Funded solely by private donations, today the USO received a check for one thousand dollars from The Priory of St. Vincent, Knights Templar.

The money will help fund the USO’s efforts to support the troops and their families stationed here and around the world.

“This is great! This goes a long ways towards our efforts. We do a lot here at Hunter with the troops who deploy and redeploy and we are doing everything we can to support those stationed in this area,” explains Ray Gaster of USO Savannah.

“I think it’s very important to support all of our military. They are doing a tremendous job for our country. They are protecting us our rights our freedoms,” says Hal Murray of The Priory of St. Vincent, Knights Templar.

If you would like more information on how you can support the USO contact (912) 354-5794.

We must share and seek the forgiveness of the poor

Posted on Updated on

A Saint and Compassion Fatigue …

There is a story told about St. Vincent de Paul. Perhaps it’s partly myth, but its challenge is real nonetheless.

Vincent once gave an instruction to his religious community that sounded something like this: “When the demands of life seem unfair to you, when you are exhausted and have to pull yourself out of bed yet another time to do some act of service, do it gladly, without counting the cost and without self-pity, for if you persevere in serving others, in giving yourself to the poor, if you persevere to the point of completely spending yourself, perhaps someday the poor will find it in their hearts to forgive you. For it is more blessed to give than to receive and it is also a lot easier.”

That might sound curious. Why do the poor need to forgive us? For what do we need to be forgiven? Shouldn’t we feel good about serving others?

All of us, I suspect, have a pretty good sense of what he means. We all know there is a certain humiliation in needing to receive, just as there is a certain pride in being able to give.

The things we often complain about are really our greatest blessings: What is worse than being too busy? Having nothing to do. What is more painful than having to give away something we own? Having nothing to give away. What is harder than being dragged out of bed to minister to someone in need? Being the person who is in bed and who needs someone to help him or her.

What is harder than being brought to our knees by the demands of those around us for our time and energy? Being on our knees asking someone else for his or her time and energy. It is more blessed to be able to give than to receive and it is easier. But there’s more.

There is a certain divine power, literally, in being able to give. The one who gives gets to be God or, at very least, to feel like God. That’s not an overstatement. God is the source of all that is, the source of all gift. When we are in a position to give, we mediate divine power and we get to feel that power. Whenever we act like God, we get to feel like God.

Yet, the irony is that our very gifts and strengths, if not given over with the proper attitude, can easily make others feel inferior. It is important to understand this so that we are more careful to not serve others in ways that demean them. It is not automatic, nor easy, to give a gift in a way that does not shame the recipient. Vincent de Paul’s counsel highlights this caution.

But there’s a second lesson here as well. Vincent de Paul meant this too as an antidote to self-pity. For anyone who is in a giving role (a parent, a minister, a teacher, a nurse, a social worker, an advocate for justice, a philanthropist, a politician), there is the temptation to fall into self-pity: “Look at all I am doing! I do all this for others, but nobody is doing anything for me. I am so tired. Is there no end to this? Am I the only one who cares? This is asking more of me than is fair. I have my own problems that I should tend to.”

It is easy, especially when one is tired and frustrated by lack of support, to lose heart, begin to feel sorry for oneself and to eventually feel that we are being unfairly used by others, that we are being asked to give more than our share.

That is very common. Caregivers often feel victimized by those to whom they are giving of themselves. We’ve even coined some terms for this: “compassion fatigue,” “compassion burnout.” Not surprisingly, many good people resent the demands of the poor: the welfare system, the push by various groups for their rights, the pressure for more immigration, the drain that the sick put on the energy and money of our society, the cost of repairing the damage done by youthful vandals and so on.

The temptation is to give up and give in – give up on going the extra mile and give in to the temptation to resign and take care of ourselves.

And so Vincent de Paul’s counsel should be told and retold: If we do not continue to serve the poor, despite our tiredness and self-pity, the poor will never find it in their hearts to forgive us. We need to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive and it is also easier.

Portraits of Vincent de Paul show him with a strong, warm face, a face that everywhere suggests a comfortable friendliness. He looks like a man you would want over for dinner. But if you had him over for dinner, you might want to make sure that you didn’t complain about the unfairness of life.

by FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi

Pray for Ramos Horta

Posted on Updated on

ramoshorta.jpg

José Ramos Horta, President of East-Timor, Nobel Peace Prize winner and a good friend of the Order was shot yesterday in an attempted coup by rebels. He remains in a serious condition. We ask that all members of the Order and friends include Mr. Ramos Horta in their prayers for a fast and complete recovery.

President Ramos Horta first received a delegation of the Order in 2004 in his capacity as (then) Minister of Foreign Affairs of East-Timor. The delegation was comprising the Master Fr+ Antonio Paris, the Chancellor Fr+ Luis de Matos the Secretary Fr+ Ardino and the member of the Portuguese Parliament Nuno da Camara Pereira. Several plans to include East-Timor in our Order’s priorities for relief campaigns and ethical development projects were laid out and we urge all those interested in cooperating to contact the Chancellery.

From the press:

_______________________________ 

East Timor’s enduring tragedy

(The Boston Globe – Editorial) THE PEOPLE of East Timor have suffered plenty enough already. The tiny East Asian nation passed directly from Portuguese to Indonesian control in 1975, after President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesia a green light to invade. A quarter century of genocidal repression followed, until Indonesian forces left in 1999.

more stories like thisThis background makes Sunday’s attempted assassinations of East Timor’s two top leaders all the more desolating. President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was wounded in an attempted coup; Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, a former resistance leader, was unhurt. The episode sends a warning: The world’s newest independent nation must not be allowed to fail.

East Timor’s political leaders must take primary responsibility for the reforms and reconciliation needed to avoid disintegration. Ramos-Horta was trying. He had met with the leader of the attempted coup, former military police chief Alfredo Reinado, seeking a compromise to end a revolt that began in 2006 with a mutiny by 600 soldiers, mostly from the west of the country.

Some 150,000 people fled their homes then, and many of the displaced have yet to return. They fear criminal gangs as well as clashes between armed groups from the east and west of the country. Efforts to end those conflicts and bring rebellious soldiers back into the fold may be more successful now that Reinado has been killed in the attack on Ramos-Horta. Reinado was not the sole leader of the antigovernment forces, but as Sunday’s flamboyant assassination attempts suggest, he was the most zealous to overthrow East Timor’s elected authorities.

A key for reconciliation is to grant amnesty to those military rebels of 2006 who had legitimate grievances while legally pursuing those who took up arms against the government for criminal purposes.

Both reconciliation and reform may be served if a much wider circle of police and military veterans, including those who fought in the anti-Indonesian resistance, are granted pensions. Pensioned officers will owe their livelihood to the government, and they will yield places for new recruits who may then receive properly professional training.

Above all, the government must seek advice from all quarters as it reforms the security services and governance. The United Nations mission to East Timor can help by devoting enough staff and resources to provide the government with substantial help in consulting with disaffected soldiers or police. Because the United Nations administered East Timor after 1999 and international security forces have been keeping the peace since 2006, a failed state in East Timor would also represent a failure of the international community.

_________________________________________________

FACTBOX: Five facts on wounded President Ramos-Horta

(Reuters) – East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot in the stomach on Monday when rebel soldiers attacked his home, a military spokesman said.

Here are five facts about the president of the tiny country, which became independent in 2002, more than a quarter of a century after Indonesia annexed the former Portuguese colony.

* Ramos-Horta, 58, was an anti-colonial journalist and activist when Portugal ruled East Timor, and was seen during that period as a fatigue-wearing rebel with bushy black hair.

* He spent years abroad as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesian occupation. Fluent in not just the country’s Tetum language, but also Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, Ramos-Horta lobbied foreign leaders to highlight East Timor’s plight under Jakarta’s often-brutal rule.

* In 1996, having earned the respect and friendship of a number of foreign leaders and with a high profile as a diplomat, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo. He returned to East Timor in 1999 after two decades abroad.

* Ramos-Horta took over as prime minister in 2006 after the country’s dominant Fretilin party was blamed for failing to control riots that spun into deadly violence in which more than 30 people died.

* He won a resounding victory in presidential elections last May. Outgoing president and former resistance hero Xanana Gusmao then became prime minister after parliamentary elections in July. The pair are generally seen as allies and somewhat more friendly to international investment and the West than Fretilin stalwarts.

Simple Pleasures

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I have been a professional caregiver for twenty years and I continue to learn a valuable life lesson everyday. I’m always amazed how sorrow and pain can bring such wonderful gifts as wisdom, patience, insight and love. I think it is very easy to make the mistake of tunnel visioning on the tasks we have at hand. We get so caught up in the daily necessities and routines that we forget or ignore the very things that can bring us joy and teach us many valuable lessons.

I was hired to care for a very special lady. I was to prepare meals for her, make sure she took her medication properly, do light housekeeping, and provide transportation to and from the market and her doctor’s appointments. All of these tasks were important and necessary so that she could remain living independently. Our focus was just that — helping her to remain independent.

It was on a cold rainy night, she had just crawled into bed, and she turned her little head and smelled her pillow. I noticed tears running from her eyes. She looked up at me and said “It’s been such a long time since I’ve had clean sheets; I love the smell of fresh clean sheets. I couldn’t change the sheets myself anymore, I didn’t know how to manage hanging on to my walker and changing the sheets at the same time. Thank you so much for changing my sheets.”

Such a simple pleasure as smelling clean sheets brought such great joy to her life. That was the day I learned unconditional care. The next day we sat down and talked about what was important to her, what she liked, and how she had done things all these years. The key point learned here was we were trying to help her remain independent, assisting her with the things she had always done for herself . . . but we forgot to ask how she liked those things done, and what was important to her.

She was the sunshine in my life. I never knew how much I would enjoy and learn from her sharing her life experiences with me. Meal time was not just another chore or necessity of life; it was an event to her. She showed me all of the beautiful and delicate dishes she had collected all of her life. Each one had a special story and held fond memories for her. Her personal favorite was the oblong dishes she used for individual ears of corn. She loved lots of melted butter, not margarine, smothering her ear of corn. Her mother had given her the corn dishes as a wedding present sixty-five years ago. Not a day goes by now that when I eat corn on the cob or climb into my bed which has fresh clean sheets, that I don’t see her beautiful little smiling face, so full of joy and hope from such simple pleasures.

I’m so thankful for the lessons I have learned . . . the lessons I almost missed because I forgot to slow down to look and see the beauty that was right in front of me.

By Angelica White