The following is a report on the work in East Timor received from ABWAid.
TIMOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Australian Baptists are responding generously to what some have described as the greatest emergency to face the country since Japanese troops advanced up the Kokoda Track and Darwin was heavily bombed in 1942.
At that time, the East Timorese succoured our commandos at great cost to themselves. Having ignored their plight for 25 years of brutal Indonesian rule, we owe them our unstinting support.
East Timor has been totally devastated, with most housing and installations destroyed and looted and many thousands living in fear in the mountains many weeks after the arrival of the International Force. In the process, many have been brutally murdered and hundreds of thousands forced out of the Province to West Timor and beyond. Repatriation has only just began and many continue to be terrorised by the militias.
ABWAid responded on Australian Baptists' behalf by sending an initial $10,000 to our partners in Kupang for East Timorese at the mercy of militias in the town or existing in appalling conditions in the Government camps. Food, water, basic medical supplies, tarpaulins, kitchen utensils, bedding and blankets have been supplied to these unfortunate people.
We were able to respond promptly and effectively because of the close partnerships developed by Baptist workers, Di and Don Van Cooten, who have worked with the KINGMIT Church to train pastors in self sustainable agriculture and to promote health education and literacy among local mothers. Di and Don and their three young children had to be evacuated at short notice but have kept in touch with the people they have served for the last ten years.
ABWAid also provided $10,000 for the transport of 1,000 pharmaceutical kits from Adelaide to Darwin for on forwarding to Dili. These were organised by a Baptist inspired South Australian organisation, Overseas Pharmaceutical Aid for Life (OPAL).
In addition, we have contributed $5,000 to the Joint Churches Emergencies Group (JCEG) to enable a combined response to be developed. Our partners in Kupang were represented at a consultation in Denpasar to plan initiatives, using the resources of Action by Churches Together (ACT), a major world consortium. An experienced coordinator, Jo Lin, is facilitating these operations from a base in Darwin. We have now approved an initial contribution of $20,000 towards an ambitious JCEG/ACT project to provide food, shelter, mosquito nets, medical supplies, clean water, seed and tools for 4,000 people in East Timor.
The needs are enormous and we are appealing to Baptists to respond with even greater compassion and generosity, now that the way has been cleared for East Timor's Independence and rehabilitation.
Beyond Timor, ABWAid is continuing to fund simple housing and income through fishing for the many thousands of Butonese who have fled fighting in both East Timor and Ambon. A total of $70,000 has been provided for this purpose. This is a reminder that the East Timor catastrophe is one of several major upheavals in the Indonesian Archipelago. Although injured pride has caused strong anti Australian feeling among a minority, most Indonesians deplore the atrocities in East Timor and elsewhere.
Australian Baptist World Aid