The original Tetun-language version of this speech is available here.
Jose Raul De Oliveira Da Silva speaking at the launch of the Timor-Leste National Human Development Report at Dili Convention Centre, 03 April 2018
His Excellency the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste and members of the Government, his Excellency the UN Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste and his staff, both national and international, my special respect to the Timorese children, fellow youths and students, brothers and sisters.
My name is Jose Raul, a 2015 university graduate currently serving as President for ‘Forsa Humanista Timor-Leste' or 'Timor-Leste Humanist Force’ group and UNDP Youth Ambassador for the SDGs. It is indeed an honor for me to be invited by UNDP Timor-Leste to speak on behalf of youth about the existence of volunteer groups in Timor-Leste, from the enclave of Oecusse to Lautem.
Grupu Forsa Humanista Timor-Leste is a group of youth volunteers, established with the objective of providing alternative support to development of Timor-Leste by organizing and facilitating free capacity building activities for Timorese citizens. In short, we work based on several fundamental objectives including to:
1. Support the Government to accelerate education sector development through non-formal education.
2. Activate youths by improving foreign language skills necessary for employment and enhancing their civic participation to contribute to national development.
3. Help prevent conflicts at Biros or the sub-village level.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, fighting for human dignity will have no end if we fail to engage education to contribute to the human development of Timorese. We must invest more in the education sector and it must be a unique choice for every one of us here. Since the restoration of independence, our investment in the education sector is not at a maximum. Therefore, we fail to empower Timorese youth to break the chain of conflict in Timor-Leste.
Nevertheless, let us reflect on the following overarching questions: ‘Why it is very difficult for youth to find jobs? Why do our youths have not enough capabilities to create their own jobs? Or why are teenagers trapped into early marriage and drug use? Why do some martial arts organizations opt to violently attack each other? Why does social media become a centre for immoral and unethical practices for many youths?'.
In terms of the education system, why is it easier for children from rich families to access the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL) compared with the poor? Or why do our leaders prefer to send their children to international schools than the public schools that they themselves have created and accredited? Also, why do the poor find it more difficult to access scholarships grants, compared with the rich? And in a wider context, why do men prefer polygamy and why do ultimately children pay the cost for suffering due to divorce?
Is it the dream of our Timorese youth for independence? Or is it what our young generation has been hoping for?
No, I don’t think so! I urge everyone that we must stop such unethical practices to dignify the restoration of our independence. I call on our leaders to support Timor-Leste to start maximizing its investment in education, both formal and non-formal to develop its people. Nevertheless, we must stop utilizing education as a means of exploitation and discrimination against the poor, and start going in the right direction as stipulated in RDTL Constitution, article 59.
Dignitaries and invited guests...I have not decided to continue my Master or look for a paid job as to sustain myself and my family. Instead, I decided to involve myself in Grupu Forsa Humanista Timor-Leste and work with 54 other volunteers. Since 2015, we have been providing free courses including English and Portuguese, and various trainings on leadership, management, petroleum and administration to name a few. These activities are currently taking place throughout Timor-Leste.
But allow me to tell you a short story about our journey. In 2015, Grupu Forsa Humanista Timor-Leste visited Oe-cusse aiming to celebrate Christmas together with Atoni people. I met with many youths who hardly speak Tetum, and I asked them this question: “The RDTL flag is composed of how many colours?” ... and they did not know! Yes, they seemed disconnected with what is happening in Timor-Leste. So, we decided to establish one volunteer group in Oe-cusse immediately to provide similar courses and trainings.
In 2016, Klibur Foinsae Humanista successfully registered and trained around 136 classes with different courses and trainings around Timor-Leste. We discovered that ‘ideas provide solutions to human problems, while money and position are complementary instruments to translate ideas into reality’.
But there are prices that volunteers must pay to involve in volunteering services. For example, often volunteers are rejected by their families because they spend more time outside working for others and return home after midnight. We ask or borrow training facilities from those we know or pay for operational costs to organize activities, particularly communication and transport. However, the more challenges we face, the stronger we are to move forward.
We are inspired by those who have fought and paid the price for the restoration of Timor-Leste independence. To dignify their sacrifices, Forsa Humanista is committed to continue the battle to free our people from poverty and work hard without consideration to submit a timesheet or an invoice. Our salary is the destiny of the generations to come.
Excellences and fellow Timorese youths..we are aware that Forsa Humanista alone is not enough. Every one of us is called upon to take part in the effort to improve our education system in Timor-Leste. Starting from families, civil society through development partners, and ultimately the Government all must have one say and take one action together. Human rights principles should be restored as to dignify the Timor-Leste Constitution: equal opportunity for education!
To end my remarks, I would like to invite my fellow Timorese youth and students to stand up and repeat this... “Timor-Leste’s change starts from me and counts on me. I am the new generation of this country and committed to continue the fight to free our people. I promise, here and today, that my salary is the destiny of the future generation”.
Viva Joventude Timor-Leste!
Note: This text was amended on 25 May 2018 to more accurately reflect the meaning of the content of the original Tetun-language speech.