Laura Meli from Kairos Catholic Journal attended the Gala Evening of Hope in Melbourne in October, where she spoke to the President of East Timor, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, about his country's 10th anniversary of independence and hopes for the future, reports the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
On 20th May this year East Timor celebrated its 10th anniversary. What is your vision for the next decade?
The Government, led by Xanana Gusmão, is 100 per cent solidly committed to investing more resources in education and health. This is for every level of education: childhood, elementary, high school, university, vocational. Also in the health sector, including nutrition, water and sanitation.
The roads and agriculture. I believe that in five years, 10 maximum, we will see poverty eliminated in East Timor. Child malnutrition, child mortality, tuberculosis and malaria; they will all be eliminated.
Has finishing your term as president in May enabled you to pursue other interests and projects?
I have been doing a fair bit of fundraising in support of groups like the Carmelites, Palms Australia,
East Timor Eye Program and many others who help alleviate extreme poverty in East Timor.
But I am also doing some international political work. As a Nobel peace prize laureate, I am invited to give speeches, like next week in New York I will be speaking about Asia’s political security challenges. I will be addressing a very large group of chief executives, 2000 CEOs from all over the United States, to talk about sustainable development.
You are passionate about the education of East Timorese youth; in what ways can Australians help the people, particularly in the area of education and development?
Australia has been very generous. Australia’s yearly commitment to East Timor is $130 million, covering areas like education, vocational training, rural development, water, sanitation. Australia’s commitment is there, you have the commitment at the government level and communities all over Australia. It’s very heartening to see.
FULL STORY Dr Jose Ramos Horta, man of vision (CAM)