They tell you to surround yourself with great people. It struck me yesterday that we have. Sitting at my flimsy little office desk I am as comfortable, inspired and energetic as I’ve felt for years. There’s no big salary and no high-tech resources at my disposal. There is, however, an abundance of amazing, talented and keen people. Our CEO is a volunteering Doctor from Australia and is a visionary with boundless energy. His wife is equally talented and generous beyond words. They’re also great fun, and great friends. We are all supported by some brilliant experts in their field of medicine, law, accounting and business, back in Australia. Mostly though, having a common goal, they are all really nice people. In our office there’s Mana (Tetun for sister) Lauren, a young Australian missionary Nurse who I am pleased as punch to call my friend. They threw out the mould when she was made.
To my left is a competent and kind (nice qualities I’m sure you’ll agree) Timorese accounts guru and to my right, a proud and strong Timorese Ops Manager who has not been caught yet without a big genuine smile on his face. Most days there is one or two volunteer Doctors, from Australia & the UK lately, floating around and sharing what they know. The rest of the 30-something staff are Timorese nurses, midwives, social workers & other health care workers who are share a passion for improving the health of Timorese people. As young professionals they bring an energy that, if bottled, would be priceless.
They don’t have the preconceived ideas or crustiness that comes with middle-age but they have very little management experience. That’s where I come in: I’m mentoring them, sharing my experience and prehistoric business skills, but secretly I’m having stimulating cultural exchanges and a lot of fun that operating our own business couldn’t provide.
It’s the old cliché; from adversity grows great resilience and beauty. My colleagues have endured hardship: it’s hard here to obtain a good education, even harder to secure employment and it’s generally challenging to stay healthy. You might say we’re lucky to have them all as they are all made of great stuff.
Humour is a big part of our Timorese day. Some days we feel surrounded by giant, warm smiles and riotous giggles even when the odds of having a successful day are stacked against us e.g. the traffic is worse than usual, the rain is bucketing down, our expensive internet service has shot off to another continent, we have another dose of Dili belly and maybe missing someone ‘back home’. Still, there’s someone laughing, and there’s no choice but to join in.
The Timorese have this wonderful affection for human interaction: a conversation is a treasured thing and should be as long as possible whenever possible! When walking the whole 100m to work I am constantly meeting groups of school kids, all holding hands, giggling, chatting and passing the time happily. They most likely have few material possessions and have probably felt their fair share of pain but they appear oblivious to that side of life. They are in the moment and they remind us to be in it too.
So here we are, surrounded by greatness. We are supposed to be cruisers, yachties, gypsies, but we are here, happily by choice still in one of our first ports, enjoying this rare privilege. The sea will wait.
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