"During the struggle for independence in my country my cousin was shot to death whilst running for safety from the Militias. I ran back to him, hugged him tight, yelling my heart out for help while bullets flew over our head like the sounds of popcorn in a microwave.
There was no time for mourning, but we did an impromptu burial ceremony with the community’s help and then fled to the mountain forest soon after casting our vote. Wild weeds and plants supplemented our daily needs for weeks, but safety was not guaranteed. The military attacks continued. Unavoidable illnesses cost lives. Nevertheless, I survived and this is my power.
Today I have the power to make history for my country. As the sky is the limit, I am determined to take myself, my family, my community and my country up to the sky with the small things I do. I continue to learn from people I meet, the work I do and the community I work with. I hope that I can affect policy and practices that nurture the positive family, community strengths and values in my country; I want to bring more equality and social justice to Timor-Leste, I want to alleviate poverty and other related social issues such as violence. I want to address mental health issues.
My brave step to study Master of Social Work has not been free from challenges. Quitting is justifiable, but it is just not an option as I have the power to make a difference, because I am a survivor.