Adapted From: "Between my Time and Your Power and other stories written by fieldworkers: experiences in distributing humanitarian aid in an emergency," edited by Philip Visser, CRS/Indonesia.
Our program started in May 2001 and I was assigned to a village in the Kupang District in Indonesia. Many East Timor refugees were living there and peacebuilding became an important aspect of my work as the possibility of violence existed between the refugees and local people. In spite of this I was optimistic and started my job with a determination to help others.
I was immediately surprised at the high degree of solidarity between the refugees and the local people. The solidarity I learned was forged through family history, marriage ties and a mutual respect for tradition. The latter was particularly important to handle problems between the two communities.
The traditional way of handling conflicts was to drink a bottle of sopi and chew sirih-pinang (betel and areca nut). When a conflict was settled, the quarreling parties would drink from one bottle and chew sirih-pinang from the same plate.