East Timor Miners

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The sweat and fatigue seen on the faces of people working in the manganese mining in Sukaernanuk Village, Belu District, NTT. They are East Timorese refugees who try to survive and choose Indonesia as the heart of their country. They have lived in Sukaernanuk Village since 1999.

Since the end of 2005, these refugees have lived in Usuulun Village, located 10 meters from the manganese mining site. It turned out that before they lived in Usuulu Village, they had lived in the refugee barracks in Block B, which was inhabited by 97 families since September 5, 1999.

They lived in shortages and had to fight for a bite of rice. These refugees worked as coffee farmers but eventually lost their land and could not maintain it. A father named Maia Jose dos Santos (51) was one of the people who gave courage to the East Timorese refugees who lived there to overcome their problems. They must have a decent job and home.In 2006, East Timorese refugees collected little money to buy land. Coinciding with that, came a mother named Martha Mada, who had extensive land to be able to accommodate forty houses with one house having a size of 57×79.60 meters. Thus the refugees have their own homes and land.

Because there was no news from the government about what work they had to do, in 1999, there was an Elementary School Teacher named Siprianus Wempimanek (42) who had extensive land, and contained manganese. He has a friend who is also a Timot refugee, Victor.
Victor is a person who announces new job vacancies as a manganese miner in Sukaernaruk Village. Initially there were only 36 workers in the manganese mine, where they did not directly dig the mine. But it works together to pave the way for trucks that will enter the manganese mining area.

Government assistance was sent in 2001, and all East Timorese refugees worked as manganese miners. Small age to old age coloring the manganese mining site. 1 kilogram of manganese is priced at Rp. 1700,-. They collect an average of 50 kilograms per week to get great results.
The tools used to mine manganese are very simple. Only large and strong crowbars, buckets, hoes and hands to take manganese. East Timorese refugee families who live in manganese mining only roof simple tents and eat grits or rice with instant noodles. For the source of the spring it is sufficient
far from mining. That is why many of them defecate arbitrarily and cause diarrhea.

A teacher named Dominggus, who is a friend of Maia Jose. He doesn’t work in manganese mining. Because there are no tools to protect manganese mining workers while working, he said the effects that occur later are insomnia, coughing, respiratory problems and tumors.

Maia Jose thought about his friend’s words, but then asked himself again. “We need money to eat, our children need money to buy school uniforms, books, pencils and transportation,” he said.

Most Timorese refugees who live in Sukaernanuk must support their families by working as manganese miners. From childhood to old age, they worked hard for a bite of rice. Timorese refugees live in groups in the manganese mining area. Simple tents and thin mat pads protect their bodies when they fall asleep at night. And during the day, they must be ready to work in the midst of the sun. Yes, trying with what they have, without help from anyone.