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A remarkable woman who survived against all odds
The Christians believe that God allows us to suffer to protect our soul from Evil. The Dalai Lama said that in order for us to face our problems without fear, we must accept suffering. Which raises the question of how much suffering must we endure to deem that life is worth living?
Here is a film that follows the acclaimed documentary, East Timor-Birth of a Nation. This film was originally aired on SBS TV (Australia) on Wednesday 26 November 2008. This is a story of the journey of an independent East Timor through the eyes of the remarkable and resilient Rosa Martins.
She is an East Timorese widow who was born in 1974, the year before Indonesian forces invaded her country. Thus, at an early stage of her life, she had experienced and suffered unimaginable horror unbeknown to most of us.
During the Indonesian military enforcement of strategic starvation, her mother realised that her family will not have enough food for everyone, so she denied herself the basic sustenance to live, refused to eat and starved to death.
Rosa was just 4 years old when her father, who was a Fretilin delegate (a resistance movement that fought for the independence of East Timor) for Maubisse, (a small town situated in the mountain, 1400 metres above sea level and 70km from Dili) was tortured and beaten to death in front of her eyes by the Indonesian soldiers. In his dying moments, he whispered to her, that she must let people know of his murder.
Over the following years, six of her siblings died of starvation or were killed. Only one brother had survived.
East Timor is a country in South East Asia which predominantly practises Roman Catholicism. In the 16th century, East Timor was colonised by Portugal and was then known as Portuguese Timor. East Timor declared its independence in 1975 and later on that year, East Timor was occupied by the Indonesians and has been declared as Indonesians 27th province.
For twenty four years, the Indonesian government subjected the East Timorese to routine and systematic tortures, massacres, starvation and executions. In 1999 the population was around 823,386.
The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation has estimated that the number of death is 90,800 to 202,600, and a further 17,600 to 19,600 individuals had met a violent death or disappeared without a trace. According to the Truth Commission, Indonesian forces were held responsible for 70% of the violent massacre.
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta, were awarded the Nobel Peace prize for their continuous efforts to end the occupation in peace. The UN-backed referendum ended the 24 years of brutal occupation by the Indonesian forces in 1999, and by 2002, East Timor had gained their independence.
Amidst the celebration of freedom, life in East Timor is still fragile and at times violent as they face the future with uncertainties. Calm and prosperity has not been realised and every aspect of East Timor struggle for stability and unity is reflected on Rosa's life.
Rosa Martins was at 33, a widow, whose husband died from malaria. He left her with 8 young children to care for, with one the result of rape.
Although her home is a one-room shack with no electricity, running water and toilet, Rosa is determined to create new chances and provide a good education for her family.
She manages to earn $3.50 a day as a cleaner. Five of her children attend school in Dili, and three of her children live in a church-run orphanage.
This remarkable woman is proud, intelligent and highly-politicised. She is adamant that she can exorcise the demons of the past and look to the bright future ahead.
Six years on, moving forward, and with the forth- coming anniversary of the independence of East Timor on May, Mary Mackillop International is hosting the screening of Rosa's Story which will be presented on the 21st of May.
This film is also proudly sponsored by the Try Booking.com. All proceeds from the booking will be donated to Mary Mackillop International. (MMI)
Mary Mackillop International is the overseas development organisation of the sisters of St Joseph. In the spirit of Mary MacKillop, they work with local communities with a vision where a world is transformed to reflect God's Mission in earth. A world without poverty, where the rights and dignity of every person are respected, where women and men share equally in shaping their societies and where people have access to the basic needs of life and are free to engage fully in society. (MMI.org.au)
The film will be a reminder of the resilience of this formidable nation, the incredible strength that they had gathered in the midst of sufferings, and what atrocities a human being is capable of inflicting to another fellow human being.
Narrated by the award-winning Cate Blanchett; this event will also feature a performance of traditional songs and dances from the Timorese culture.
So why not make a time to attend this event, take a glimpse of what happened in the past and learn from it.