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Youths' "Time-Passing" Activities in Naibonat

Given exclusion by “locals,” the violent images of the East Timorese that remain, unstable conditions because of limited space with which to articulate themselves, and difficulties in accessing basic rights, East Timorese youths develop feelings of group solidarity. Aside from helping their parents, male and female youths engage in accessible activities to “kill time.” Because 99 % of East Timorese families are Catholics, the youths often join Catholic Youth Community (OMK) groups in a small church inside the camp. They gather after Sunday Mass to organize Bible study, Confirmation Sacrament courses, choirs, or games. Protestant and Muslim youths have similar groups. Regardless of religion, these youths also play football and volleyball games. Football is a prestigious and desirable sport for boys, and subsequently several football teams have been formed. East Timorese football clubs in Naibonat often receive donations from Gerindra, a political party led by the former lieutenant general Prabowo Subiyanto; he was the leader of a 1980s’ Indonesian counterinsurgency operation in East Timor and ran for president in 2014. There also are volleyball teams that are not considered to be a “cool” sport among boys because it is seen as more of a girls’ sport.

With limited activity options, the youths are just “passing-time” most of the day. They hang out by the street sides and stop random cars to ask for money. Parents and community leaders have already forbidden them from gathering around after dark because they are afraid that the youths will spend money to buy moke or sopi (i.e., local homemade alcohol). Victor, who is 20 years old, said that he can get a liter of sopi for Rp 10,000 (less than $1 USD). Still, passing-time should be seen not only as a passive activity because it provides an opportunity to foster youth solidarities (Jeffrey 2010). In this case, “passing-time” helps them to interact across communities (e.g., Baucau, Viqueque, Los Palos, Aileu, and Manatuto), which can be challenging given that East Timorese in Naibonat still follow the old community system. They maintain social and cultural links with people from the same region back home and limit their interactions with neighbors from different regions in East Timor.

Thus, with activities that “pass the time” they can share their similar anxieties and difficulties with living in the same precarious condition. The most popular choice of activity which accommodate these needs is joining a martial arts community. The following section discusses the involvement of East Timorese youth in martial art groups as an attempt to gain recognition and pave their future in order to better secure their social, cultural, and economic conditions.

 
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