(2009 – 2012)

It was 1999 when bloody conflicts occurred in Indonesia’s former Timor Timur Province. General referendum declared the separation of Timor Timur from Indonesia, which later became a new independent country named Timor Leste. The civil war occurred and led thousands people fled to the border of Indonesia-Timor Leste.

In the refugee camp, people lived in poor condition. Children were the most vulnerable one as lack of basic need and education were common in refugee camp. To find a better life, several children move to Java, Indonesia. With consent of parents and help of organization, they left their family to live a new life.

In Moris Diak Project, i follow the new life of the children in several communities. Fear and memories are intertwined with hope for better life. Education, solidarity and friendship have helped them to cope with trauma and move forward to build a new life.

Children are the owner of future. When war destroys humanity, the innocence voice of children remind us of the essential role as a human: each of us is our brother and sister’s keeper.

*Moris Diak (tetun language of ‘Live Well’)


Surabaya, Indonesia.

November 2003

Twenty one children from Timor Leste arrived in Karunia (english: grace) orphanage run by Mrs. Silvy, Mrs. Tin, Mr. Pariadi and (late) Mr. Margiono. A religious sisters helped the children to travel from Timor to Surabaya.

At first the orphanage was built to care babies and children from poor families and unplanned pregnancy. But after the arrival of Timor Leste children, the foundation shift their plan and use limited resource to help them. A tiny house become a shelter for children and the foundation struggle to feed them.

Although the orphanage doesn’t have permanent house and should pay yearly house rental bill, the children can stay and get education at nearest school. Like its name, this shelter try to help the children to received basic need and reach their future dream. Even in limited and tough situation, they try to be grace for the children.


After living in Indonesia and Timor Leste refugee area, Ali bin Donduro and his wife moved to Jakarta, Indonesia and founded an orphanage for refugee’s children. In 2004, ten children from Timor arrived.

After years of living in rental houses, he built a permanent dormitory house in Depok, West Java. With his dormitory and school, the foundation try to support their basic need and help the children to have good education and reach their future dream.

Asuwain (tetun language of ‘Brave’)


In June 2001, forty six children arrived in Wonosari, Yogyakarta. After a long trip from refugee camp in the border of Indonesa and Timor Leste, they arrived in Taman Bina Anak Bangsa orphanage run by Suwardiyo couple. At first this couple did not have any idea to build an orphanage. But with humanity and compassion, they sold one of their homes to build a dormitory. In the dormitory, the children live and study.

Time flies, the children grown up. Some of them now have worked. The others are still living in dormitory. In the shadow of the future, they are struggling to get better life.


Billy was born in January, 1991. He was still a boy when bloody conflicts happened in his home land on 1999. After fled from the chaos, his family lived in refugee camp in Kupang, Indonesia. But, due to the poor condition of the camp, his parents decided to allowed him and his brothers to move out from there. With help of social organization and consent from their parents, Billy move to Java. He stay and study in an orphanage in Yogyakarta.

In this participative photographic storytelling, I collaborate with Billy to trace his memory back. We read his photo album to recall his journey and memory. We also went to the places where he lived in Java. All of this retrospective process then became a medium that help him to reflect about his family life and identity. Although the war has made their family separated, he still has optimism and effort to dream a new better life.

At the end of our work, he said to me that after his father had passed away, he want to visit his mother who currently is living alone in refugee camp. He dreams to be together with his mom and brothers and have dinner together like other normal family.