|Subject: BBC: Celebration and despair in E
BBC NEWS Celebration and despair in E Timor
Jonathan Head BBC correspondent in Dili
The euphoria of last year's independence celebrations has well and truly left East Timor.
The first 12 months as an independent state have been very tough and, for many people, bitterly disappointing.
East Timor is still one of the world's poorest countries, a situation made worse by a sharp reduction in the number of United Nations staff, who helped fuel an artificial economy.
Eduardo Soares, a former freedom fighter, says the independence he fought for is much harder than he expected.
"It is so difficult because bad stuff happens so easily," he said.
"I want to study, but the problem is how to start. There's nothing to start with. It's like a driver driving his car, with no direction."
The prospects for Eduardo's two young daughters, Victoria and Florbela, are little better.
Nearly every school in East Timor was destroyed four years ago. There are 45 pupils in his daughters' class, crammed into a makeshift classroom.
They are taught in Portuguese, a language they do not understand.
Their teachers are unpaid volunteers, who are nevertheless willing to help make life better for the next generation.
"For me, this is normal," said one teacher. "Things are bad and we do need help."
"But we must be patient. I'm happy to do this for the future of East Timor," she added.
The school itself - a gutted shell of a building - is symbolic of the lack of resources East Timor has to start building its new life.
The total destruction wrought by Indonesian soldiers in 1999 means the country still has little infrastructure.
And even when these schoolchildren do finish their rudimentary education, the harsh reality is that three out of four of them will not be able to find a job.
With unemployment so high, crime is rising fast and the newly formed police force and judicial system are ill-equipped to fight it.
Eduardo, however, is one of the lucky ones.
He has found a job with a security firm, with help from his former guerrilla comrades.
But there is little other work in this shattered country, and he knows he has been given a chance that many will never get.
East Timor is not a country without riches, though. There is oil off-shore, and maybe one day tourists will come to enjoy the country's natural beauty.
But first, its people must first recover from a quarter of a century of conflict.
On Tuesday morning, in the blinding sun, East Timor's new army and police force paraded in front of diplomats and government ministers to mark the first year of independence.
There were a few tears in the eyes of some of the Eduardo's former colleagues, the veteran guerrilla fighters, as the red, black and yellow national flag was raised.
At this low-key ceremony, President Xanana Gusmao acknowledged the frustration felt by many over the slow pace of development.
But he insisted that the country remained stable, and promised a better performance by the government.
While most people in East Timor say the last year has been hard, they still express pride in their young country's achievement at just having come this far.
And for Eduardo and his family, there is reason to celebrate.
He was arrested and tortured nine times by Indonesian soldiers during his fight for independence.
Now, living in an independent East Timor with a wife and daughters he never thought he would ever see, must seem like a small miracle.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3042875.stm
Published: 2003/05/20 09:48:18 GMT
BBC NEWS E Timor marks year of freedom
Jonathan Head BBC correspondent in Dili
The people of East Timor have been celebrating a year of their existence as an independent state.
At a low-key ceremony in the capital, Dili, President Xanana Gusmao acknowledged the frustration felt by many East Timorese over the slow pace of development, but he insisted the country remains stable and promised a better performance by the government.
In the blinding morning sun, East Timor's new army and police force paraded in front of diplomats and government ministers to mark the first year of independence.
There were a few tears in the eyes of some of the veteran guerrilla fighters as the red, black and yellow national flag was raised.
But this was a more sombre occasion than last year's spectacular show organised by the United Nations as it handed over authority to the new government.
The past year has been very hard for the people of East Timor.
The economy contracted sharply as UN staff pulled out.
There is no prospect for employment for the youth and both the legal and the infrastructural conditions of the country do not attract investors President Xanana Gusmao
Education levels here are very low.
Much of the infrastructure is still in ruins from the violent Indonesian withdrawal four years ago, and there are few jobs available.
In his speech on Tuesday, President Xanana Gusmao referred several times to those hardships.
But his was an optimistic message.
The extraordinary resilience shown by the East Timorese during the Indonesian occupation would, he said, see them through the difficult first years of independence.
That sentiment was reflected by many of the onlookers who watched the ceremony.
Most said the last year had been much tougher than they expected.
But they still expressed pride in their young country's achievement just in having come this far. Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3042301.stm
Published: 2003/05/20 05:47:23 GMT
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