Dili Travel Blog› entry 27 of 86 › view all entries
Part of the New Zealand contingent history here in Timor Leste revolves around an orphanage out near Becora Police Station on the Eastern edge of Dili. The orphange was "adopted" by the Kiwis a few years back and the association has enriched the lives of the children as well as the Kiwis far from home and doing it hard away from their families here.
I, of course, don't have a family that I was wrenched from but I'm happy to be involved with the children for the simple reason that kids make us old buggers feel young again!
Sunday afternoon the staff here at Dili go down to the orphange for an hour to
interact with the kids and play a few games with them. I have been back in Dili for three week-ends
now but the first two Sundays I haven';t been able to go on the visits because
I haven't had the opportunity to get on top of my job.
This weekend there was to be no excuses like that though. The kids were coming to Hotel Esplanada where we were going to throw a pool party for them all. That's 33 children aged from about 4 to 18. We were set for a huge afternoon!
It was back on Tuesday that I put my report through my chain of command to seek approval to attend the pool party as part of New Zealand's contribution to Community Policing through work with the orphanage. My Chief sent back a floral report extolling the virtures of our endevours and congratulating us for our initiative.
Sunday I was ready and there was an air of anticipation in everyone at the
breakfast table that morning. By
lunchtime it was even worse. I had told
Lim I would not be returning and as soon as I got back for lunch I changed out
of uniform and into my pool party clothes.
Rowan was dishing out jobs. Mel had the transport sewn up. The hotel was already preparing for the mid-party food and the pool was full of the unsuspecting swimmers it usually attracts on the weekends.
After our own lunch we went up to Rowan's room and blew up 40 odd balloons. We finished that job all too quickly and wandered around for the next 1/2 hour feeling like we were awaiting a dental appointment.
I found myself down at the pool with a couple of the others. I was ready and I had my camera to catch all the action. A short wait later and in they poured through the hotel lobby. I snapped a couple of quick shots and then they were filing past me all shaking my hand and wishing me a polite "boa tardi". They were the typical lovely kids of Timor Leste. All very polite, all perfectly mannered, and all dying to get into the pool!
were no speeches, no ceremony.
Some of the girls tip-toed down the pool steps, still wearing all their clothes. A couple of the young boys slid into the water off the edge of the pool but there was far too much hesitation considering they had been here before. I think they get invited about once every 6 month deployment rotation so every contingent gets to host them.
Anyway, Nigel did one of his winning bombs and that had everyone wet. A minute later the pool was full of laughing, screaming, chattering, happy children.
there were not many that could swim. We
had been told they would all want to hang off usas we moved about the
pool. Tim, Mel, Rowan, Nigel, Donna,
Theo and Kevin were already in. I stayed
out taking more shots for another 10 minutes or so and then I dived in to help
them with the load.
It was a great afternoon but the swim was just the first and last part. In between there was food, games and icecream.
The games started simply with Donna and Rowan getting out of the pool and throwing all the balloons in. It wasn't long before most of them were popped and floating in the water. I spent a bit of time scrambling around grabbing bits of rubber before they were sucked into the filter but it wasn't easy with a couple of kids haging around my neck.
After lunch was the apple eating competition Tim had arranged. That was a hoot! The small kids didn't manage to bite the hanging apples because their mouths were too small but there were chocolate bars for the best efforts.
The bigger kids had no problems fitting the
apples in their mouths but they was still plenty of cheating going on all the
The best thing about it was most of the kids either got and apple or a chocolate bar but they all had a huge amount of fun laughing at the efforts of the ones playing the game.
The icecream came out just as they were getting into the pool for one last swim. Some had the icecream, others didn't want to get out of the water. The older boys were playing with the rugby ball at the deep end of the pool, diving into the water as they tried to take a pass from someone on the other side. Not bad progress for some of them that wouldn't get into the water without hanging onto us at the beginning of the day.
When it was time to go it all happened very quickly and quietly. They were told it was time and 10 minutes later everyone was filing out the door. Some were still wet, most were still smiling, all were going to be sleeping well tonight -just as the 10 of us would be doing!