From Tim Aderson:
On behalf of Timor Leste's eighteen new doctors, Dr Ercia gave a speech that shook the Timorese audience, on graduation day. Here is my English translation (from a Spanish version!) - the original Tetun is below.
National University of Timor Lorosae, 3 September
Distinguished President … excellencies … colleagues …
This day, September 3, 2010, is a very special day in the important history of the National University of Timor Lorosae, where our dear Timorese are trained in the path of intelligence and intellectuality and which today provides for our graduation, as the first doctors trained in Cuba and Timor Leste, and which tomorrow will continue to graduate those from other colleges, to further build human resources in the development process of our country, Timor Leste.
In the reality we face today, many people still cannot read or write; many of them are then used by some leaders to achieve their goals without them knowing it. To escape from this path requires building high quality education, because if all Timorese are intelligent nobody can manipulate us, no-one can defeat us and this nation will be strong and will never fall into the hands of others.
Intelligence or education does not stand alone but rather has contributions from other sectors such as health and the economy. Today, tomorrow and into the future there will be many challenges and problems we will have to face, but we will struggle fearlessly with intelligence and realism.
One slogan says “health is in our hands”, but how can we strengthen this idea? To have good health we must eradicate all the most common diseases in our country, especially infectious diseases such as: dengue, malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis, leprosy – that is, the diseases of poverty. Unfortunately our country is included as one of the poorest in the world. Malnutrition is also a major health problem in our country and to eradicate this requires a strong conscience and the will of a people with big hearts in solidarity and humanism, to serve and resolve the country’s health problems.
In our time abroad in Cuba, the main objective was for us to study medicine, and the point of that study was to return to our country to serve our beloved people. We know that during our study in Cuba the previous government received much criticism from many institutions, including the Catholic Church. In spite of all this we were motivated to learn and study more and more to reach our goal of becoming doctors to serve our country, Timor Leste.
When we arrived in Cuba, we received all training in theory and practice and we dedicated ourselves as Timorese looking for experience and intelligence in Cuba, but to return and live as Timorese.
Through the academic training we received and the professionalism that we have achieved, we are ready to dedicate ourselves to serving the government and the peoples of this country, without personal or private interest. We do not seek wealth for ourselves but rather to serve the people with dedication and a spirit of humanism that does not see race, locality, religion, gender or political parties, but which serves all people according to the teaching of God.
In the process of development which the government wants to achieve, we who trained as doctors are ready to work with the government to help the Timorese peoples live in good health and to have a long life, wherever they may be.
In the profession we have, serving the people, we are human beings who will always make mistakes. We need support and collaboration from all parties so we can serve in the spirit of patriotism for the good of the government and the people of the country, and so once more we as doctors declare that we are ready to receive orders and work in any part of the country.
On behalf of all my companions I want to thank His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao as former President of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, who lobbied the Government of Cuba - led by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, who in turn gave us the opportunity to study in Cuba - and who now as Prime Minister still supports us, since we have returned to Timor Leste.
We also thank Dr. Mari Alkatiri (former Prime Minister of the first constitutional government), Dr. Rui Maria De Araujo (former Minister of Health) and all those who have helped build a good relationship between the two countries: Timor Leste and Cuba. This good relationship built by the previous government has provided the result we have today, that we 18 can graduate as doctors in this very special place, to serve the people and the country.
We also thank the fourth constitutional government for its continuous support and assistance, not only for us but for our other colleagues who are still studying in Cuba.
We thank Health Minister Dr. Nelson Martins and all his staff, the Ministry of Education and the National University of Timor Leste, the Catholic Church, families, civil society and all the Timorese people who, from the beginning, were directly and indirectly involved in our process of study, right to the end.
Today we also thank the Cuban government, especially Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, Raul Castro Ruz and other members of government, Cuba’s people and health professionals, its revolution and its generosity in hosting us, and training us to become worthy health professionals. Thank you very much Cuba. You are the best, nobody is like you in this modern world. We don’t know how we are going to thank and repay you. Once again MANY THANKS CUBA.
To serve this young country, we need the contribution of all parties. Today I represent all my companions and we ask all our older brothers and sisters to give us your hands so that we feel like children of the same parents and the same family, to walk together in unity so that we can resolve the health problems of our beloved country, Timor Leste.
Before concluding, allow me to say: if during our studies in Cuba and our postings in Timor Leste we did something wrong or against the wishes of our teachers, doctors, nurses, patients, friends, families, we ask for your forgiveness and hope that you forgive us. We always look forward to the contribution of all to be able to correct our faults, refine our skills as professionals and serve with greater quality our government and our beloved people of Timor Leste.
Thank you very much
Dili, September 3, 2010
Ercia Maria Da Conceicao Sequeira