Subject: Nun haunted by terror she witnessed in Dili
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 04:49:26 EDT

The Australian Sept 9 1999

Nun haunted by her ordeal


SYDNEY nun Libby Rogerson has worked in some of the world's most dangerous hotspots, but nothing has come close to the terror she felt two days ago in Dili.

"I've never been to anything so terrible . . . there's naked fear everywhere," said the 55-year-old nun, who arrived in Sydney yesterday after fleeing the violence on Monday.

In the days before she left, Sister Rogerson said Dili had become a "ghost town" with streets devoid of life "except for these incredibly thundering trucks of the militia and the military that thunder up and down, day and night".

"The night before I left, the guns started at seven o'clock when we were eating dinner and they did not stop all night, just militia trucks thundering up and down, half-baked kids with guns firing them off into the air," she said.

Despite having worked in Tanzania during the Rwandan refugee crisis and in Peru and India, Sister Rogerson said nothing prepared her for her final nights in the commune in Aimutin where she was living.

"I was at home with mostly very young sisters all in their 20s and the shooting got very close . . . I was doing things I never thought I'd have to do in my life," she said.

"I was saying things like turn off all the outside lights, pull the blinds and shut the doors so if the bullets come through the windows they won't come into the centre where we were."

Sister Rogerson, from the Loreto Convent at Normanhurst in Sydney's north, said she volunteered to work with the relief organisation Caritas East Timor because she wanted to help the East Timorese people.

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