UPLIFTING and heartbreaking true stories of Timor-Leste (East Timor) will be heard at a book reading at Mornington in early August as part of Library Week.
The readings will come from the book From Timor-Leste to Australia – Seven families, three generations tell their stories, a collection of recollections and poems of seven Timor-Leste families who left their homeland to make new lives in Melbourne.
Readers will include Maria Napoleon and Jose Florindo from two of the seven families, and Jan Trezise and Lynne Moller, of Gleneagles Secondary College in Endeavour Hills who, along with 25 students, interviewed families and produced the manuscript for the book, which was published by Wild Dingo Press.
Trezise, founding principal of Gleneagles and a long-time supporter of Timor-Leste, edited the book.
The event has been organised by Mornington Peninsula Friends of Lospalos and Mornington Peninsula Shire. The shire and its community has had a friendship relationship with Lospalos, 250km east of Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, since 2000.
Wild Dingo Press publisher Catherine Lewis said Timor-Leste refugees first came to Australia in numbers after Indonesia invaded the nation in 1975 and again after “the bloody aftermath of the 1999 independence vote” when Australia supported independence and led a United Nations peace-keeping force to the island.
“Many settled in Melbourne’s southeast, quietly making new lives, without fuss or fanfare. Some returned after independence, many contributing their Australian-acquired skills and experience to the fledgling nation,” she said.
“Until now, their stories, written by people in their community, have not been recorded and published. The stories are woven into the history of Timor-Leste, which was colonised by Portugal for 400 years, invaded by the Japanese during the Second World War (when the East Timorese gave succour and safe haven to Australia’s soldiers during the occupation), later abandoned by its colonisers and suffered civil war before being invaded by Indonesia.
“With a heritage tied so closely to Australia in so many ways, this collection represents an essential part of the great story of migration, whether voluntary or forced, to this country, particularly in the past 50 years. The reader will be moved by these remarkable, courageous and resilient people, who endured so much, just on our doorstep.”
The reading event is at the Mornington council chambers, 2 Queens Street, at 6pm on Thursday 3 August. It’s free of charge but book a place via email to email@example.com or at: eventbrite.com (Search Timor-Leste Mornington).