Life but not as we know it

Life but not as we know it

by Ann-Marie O’Brien

Ann-Marie is a qualified program manager with extensive experience in the public and community sectors. She began her mentoring role at Klibur Domin in late July 2019 to provide greater support and training for administrative staff involved in inpatient care and rehabilitation, mental health programs, human resources and general office support.

Well I am back in Australia after being told to get on a plane. I found it very hard to leave Klibur Domin. One of the staff summed it up well.    “ I wonder who will have died before you come back”. Sobering thought but very much a reality if Timor gets the Corona Virus.

Before I left, I had a couple of nights that were a bit scary. Tibar, where Klibur Domin is based is also the site for the Dili dump. It also has the HIV treatment centre. Klibur Domin is the only place in Timor where people with Multi Resistant Tuberculosis are treated. I was not aware that Tibar residents were feeling a bit like they were the dumping ground for Timor’s so called “rubbish”.

Klibor Domin has been in Tibar for 20 years and is considered a great community player providing medical and dental services to all the residents. Behind the property was land owned by the Ministry of Health. About 10 years ago several houses were built on this property as a showcase to sustainable design. The property had not been developed and Klibur Domin has used it for several years to house some of the people we support. About 5 months ago the Ministry of Health decided to give the property to Casa Vida, a great organisation in Dili that supports women leaving domestic violence. Case Vida were in the process of setting it up when the Ministry of Health decided that the property would be a great quarantine place for suspected Covid 19 cases. Unfortunately, they did not do much community engagement in this decision and so local people were incensed that once again Tibar was to be used to assist in a national issue.

Unfortunately, the media thought that the property was Klibur Domin and the locals were angry that they had not been part of the decision making. We had a couple of nights of large protests with tear gas and a heavy police presence. I stayed the second night in Dili to be safe and to ensure that a “Malae” was not part of their local struggle. The protest was totally understandable, and it was good to see the Ministry of Health conducting some education sessions on the virus to the locals in the days that followed.

I had originally decided to return to Australia at Easter. Barney was getting married on the 1st of May but of course that is now cancelled.

This is life but not as we know it!!

Thankfully I have two great friends who have a property in the Gold Coast hinterland, and they were more than happy for me to come and self-isolate. Lawrence had the car packed with supplies and I waved to Lawrence, Theo and Jeremiah at Zillmere and headed here. I did not want to self-isolate at home as we are only in a two-bedroom unit and Theo, who has Type 1 diabetes is currently living with Lawrence.

How blessed am I. So, I am in the bush with mountain views, a creek and veggie garden to potter around in.

I have not been well since I came back and decided to get tested yesterday for Covid 19. Will find out the results in the next few days. I am pretty sure I have not got it…. Just a blend of Covid depression and a cold… but I am not taking chances.

So what is my plan….. I want to return to Timor Leste as soon as I can, but I believe there is a challenge here for me to accept what is and make the most of it. So hard for many of us!  Can’t wait to hug and kiss Lawrence and my boys. That will come! I have a goal to catch up with a lot of Facebook Friends and help as much as I can to get us through this. Please feel free to contact me if you want a chat. I would love that.

So, it is important at this time to think about what you are grateful for.

I am so grateful that I live in Australia that has a nationalised medical system. If I have the virus, I know I will be given then best chance to get well. And I know that everyone will be given that chance. I can live with that.

I am so grateful that we have leaders in this country that are taking this seriously and are putting health over the economy. Never liked Scomo, but he is doing alright and listening to medical advice.

I am so grateful that I am going through this hard time without having my three beautiful boys off fighting in a war that maybe I did not agree with. Something my ancestors must have dealt with.

I am so grateful that my three sons are still able to find work. Barney is working from home with the University of Melbourne, Theo is in hospitality but has moved to only doing takeaway and Jeremiah by beautiful actor son is working in disability support and loving it. Lawrence still has a job and is also working from home in Youth Justice.

I am so grateful that over the last 10 years my mother, Marie got very good with technology and even though she has already been in isolation for a number of weeks because of her ill health she is able to Facetime with her large extended family and keep up to date with Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp.

I am so grateful  for the virtual community developed in Facebook and other communication tools. Who would have known that these would be so important during a time like this?

I am so grateful. Love and Peace in these uncertain times.

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