My biggest obstacle was the cultural shock. I remember the first few days I had feelings of pity and anger with the whole dynamic. However, after a week I had become comfortable with the simplicity, and quite liked the personal challenges I faced and the questions that I had never asked myself before.
Volunteering suddenly appeared to be a circumstance that I could handle, and more importantly, a circumstance that is needed in present day Timor.
The encounter has the ability to change the way you see yourself and how you can contribute to humanity on a profound level. The humble purity of the people and their country is an experience I would recommend to everyone. And really, the only question I could pose to myself when I returned was “What now?” There are so many opportunities and contributions just one person can give to these people.
I am tremendously grateful to Roger, Barry and Palms Australia for such an astonishing realisation.” – Courtney Press
“It is about an encounter, you think, with the Timor Leste people. But it is also about an encounter with oneself and with others. It is OK to have a privileged life but how you give something back is what challenges you. Time to reflect and acknowledge, in a gracious way, a life that is simple but has richness, a community that has little but shares with all and with you.
On return to Australia you think life will be as before but it is not really so. Your response is in your hands.” – Sharon Hearns
“The Timor Encounter was one of my most challenging and rewarding experiences. It was spiritually and personally challenging and uplifting and it was life-changing. Witnessing the incredible work of the volunteers, meeting the people who are possibly amongst the most resilient people I’ve met was humbling and joyous. Living in close proximity for ten days with a group of strangers, in sometimes tense but mostly humorous times was both testing and enjoyable. My most encouraging moments took place when I was interacting with local people in different contexts. The experience is one I would recommend to anyone of sound mind, with a resilient character. It was one I will never forget.” – Amanda Turlik
“Having had the privilege of travelling through Timor Leste and meeting the many Palms’ volunteers, it has become evident to me that those who volunteer on behalf of Palms seek not to dictate foreign practices and ideas, but endeavour to work with the community to build genuine relationships and a sustainable and self-determined future for the community. It is my belief that those who embark with Palms truly seek to put their eyes in the eyes of those whom they meet; put their hearts next to the hearts of those whom they serve and seek to walk lovingly, humbly, and justly on the pilgrimage of life.” – Andrew Hogan
Interested in an Encounter in Timor-Leste in 2011? Contact Palms Australia to reserve a place. Dates available: 4-16 July 2011 or 19 Sept – 1 Oct 2011.