pencil on paper
36 x 30 cm
This image is a recurring one I have whenever I think of my deployment to East Timor (now Timor Leste) in 1999. The location was a desperately poor village near the border with West Timor. There was no infrastructure or power, just dirt roads and undeveloped huts. Everyone recalled the enthusiastic welcome we received every time we visited. Near the village centre there was a row of hastily dug graves that contained victims of the militia’s vile and bloody grab for power. We had arrived too late to save them. Many of us were enraged about the cowardly imposition of violence on these lovely people. One of the local children, pausing his football game, was curious as to why a visitor paused to pay his respects.
I have rediscovered drawing and have progressively improved after some long-overdue tuition. I find it focuses my mind and, in this case, I have concentrated more on the child and his relative indifference to death. That we were shocked and outraged illustrates the cultural differences between us. To my surprise, I learnt later that many of the youth co-opted by the militias asked for, and received, forgiveness from the largely Catholic community.