Timorese Youth Parliamentarians visit Victoria
In history class 10 years ago I stumbled upon the saying, "the youth is the hope of our future", spoken by Jose Rizal, national hero of The Philippines. I thought to myself, "How could a thirteen-year-old be the hope of our future?" This has always been an empty saying for me. I never understood how I could be expected by Rizal to create a better world for the future when I couldn't even go out by myself.
However, in November 24, 2010 I met two amazing young people who changed my mind and made me believe that young people are indeed the hope of our future.
Amoy and Lizerio are two members of the Timor-Leste Youth Parliament, part of the delegation that visited Melbourne on November 22, 2010 in a week-long journey to understand and learn about Victoria's own Youth Parliament and its youth policies. At 15 years of age, both were adamant and determined to make a change.
How does it feel to be a member of the Youth Parliament of East Timor?
Amoy: I feel very happy because I have time to understand, learn, and discuss about my district or the district of my delegation and my school.
Lizerio: When I [was] elected as a youth parliamentarian, I [was] very happy because I know that ... our nation is developing and we need contribution from our youth department. And also in Timor, before we had independence, the contribution of the young is very important for our nation. I also make recommendations and represent the opinions of the young people to the Government.
The visit was a product of a successful communication between the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) and Timor-Leste's Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports (SSYS) with the help and support of DPCD's Office for Youth (OFY) and YMCA Victoria.
Timor-Leste (or, as we commonly call it, East Timor) is in the south-eastern part of Asia, just northwest of Australia. The Government of Timor-Leste has gathered 130 of its young people between the ages of 12 and 17 to represent the voices of the country. Two young people (one male and one female) from each sub-district were elected as part of a nationwide selection process. This is an important step and commitment by the Timor-Leste Government to obtain youth participation in their country, whose population has a large proportion of young people.
Tell me something about East Timor. What do you like about it?
Lizerio: Our nation, our country, we always call Timor a young country because we haven't explored much of our natural resources. Our nation is beautiful ... we have beautiful forests and we also have fish in the sea. We also have coffee, more coffee…
Amoy and Lizerio were ecstatic and full of pride while describing their country and laughing at how coffee made them hyperactive during the day.
Being 15 years old, Amoy and Lizerio still have to study in addition to the responsibilities placed upon them by their roles as parliamentarians. They are both in their third year of junior high school.
How do you balance studying, friends, and being a youth parliamentarian?
Lizerio: In our sub-district, we always explain to our friends the conditions and criteria of the Youth Parliament. We make connections with the leaders of the sub-district because if we need something, we need to get in contact with them. I always have time to play with my friends and to have fun.
What is one issue that you are most interested in?
Lizerio: The main problem, the main obstacle that we meet in our nation is education. We have a small school with only books to study. We don't have other facilities such as computer, internet, and [equipment] for other kinds of sport.
Amoy: Yes, facilities. We don't have much money, only books and small rooms…
What characteristics should a good leader have?
Amoy: Leadership is very important because not everyone can take advantage of opportunities like this to communicate to the young people in my district to explain to them what they don't understand. So being able to communicate is important.
What do you plan to do after Youth Parliament?
Amoy: My plan is to continue what I am doing now - to help to bring electricity to my district and [to improve] facilities at our schools - things like computers and sports facilities.
Lizerio: To continue being the voices of the youth and to make sure that the Government hears that. That way the Government would pay more attention to the necessity and purity of the young.
What message would you like to leave to aspiring young people out there?
Amoy: My message is only "study hard".
Lizerio: Study hard and learn English because it is an international language.
It is inspiring how at a young age, Lizerio and Amoy can balance their studies and social lives to find time to care for their community. Bringing electricity to a whole district is not something I could imagine a 15-year-old could do, but Amoy is confident that she will achieve this goal.
The opportunity to meet these young people has been life-changing. Now I can see myself and young people around the world being the hope of the future. If Lizerio and Amoy can do it, why can't we?
As Lizerio says, "If you want to be a good leader in the future, we have to start now because if we don't start now, in the future, we will not be able to do anything for the people."
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Articles Written by Shyneth
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