Place of origin: Uma-Qui’ic Beobe, Raihun, Viqueque
Rafael Urbano is from the same family as Cipriano.
Rafael Urbano’s parents were dead and Cipriano’s parents and other family members decided to send Urbano to Java, together with Cipriano, taking up the offer from the Dharmais Foundation.
‘In 1977 I left Viqueque along with my younger cousin Cipriano. We were sent to the Seroja institution in Dili. Some time later a soldier’s wife came to Seroja and took Cipriano away to adopt him. I stayed at Seroja for three years. In 1979 I was one of a group of ten children who were sent to the PPATN institution run by the Indonesian Department of Social Welfare. Bandung was a foreign environment for us although most of the children from East Timor lived together in one group house. We never talked about the language and culture in East Timor and we didn’t send letters home. We were raised as Sundanese in West Java, speaking Sundanese, as well as Indonesian. Gradually we forgot our own language, Tetun. I felt as if I was brain washed, but actually what else could I do.
I’m happy that I got an education in Bandung, but I never understood why I was there. I was only ever told that we were there because there was a war in East Timor. But in my heart I always wanted to find out about myself and why I had to be in Bandung, so far from my family.
After I graduated from the Dago Christian High School in 1993 and began studying at the Bandung cooperatives management institute (Institut Manajemen Koperasi), I became friends with other East Timorese students studying there, through the East Timorese student association (Ikatan Mahasiswa Pemuda/Pelajar Timor Timur). However, with them I always felt embarrassed and shy because I didn’t understand their language and culture. I often walked out of meetings because I couldn’t understand Tetun. I began to think about my culture in East Timor and that I had to learn Tetun.
I was often naughty and my guardians would become frustrated and confused about what they should do with me. When I think back now to that time, I realise that I was naughty because I was seeking attention. I needed attention and love. Living without my family was very difficult for me. Even though the place where I was born was ‘backward’, in my heart I always longed for it. I think that my other friends also felt the same. Even now it brings tears to my eyes if I see a picture of a mother holding her child, or a child walking with its parents. Sadly I can’t feel close to my family. My friends are now my family, especially the friends I made when I was a student.
After completing his study in Bandung, Rafael Urbano returned to East Timor and now works in the Financial Planning unit of the Department of Health in Viqueque.