Timor-Leste’s respect for animals and the environment can in part be drawn back to a story told to children across the country, and that story has been turned into a children’s book. The country of Timor-Leste is shaped like a crocodile, and, according to popular folklore, the shape’s genesis can be traced to the kindness of a young boy. According to the legend, a young boy saw a small crocodile struggling to move from a lagoon to the sea. The boy picked up the crocodile and helped so much that the crocodile felt very grateful and told the boy that if he ever needed help, the boy should stand by the sea and call “crocodile!”
One day when the boy needed to travel across the sea, he called out “crocodile”, and the crocodile returned. The boy rode on the crocodile’s back and together they went on many journeys. The crocodile became troubled with his instinct to eat the boy, and when he asked other animals, they told the crocodile that it would be wrong to eat the boy or harm his friend. The crocodile began to age, and he told the boy that when he died, he would change into a beautiful land where the boy and his children could live.
The crocodile became the land of Timor-Leste.
This story has been turned into a children’s book, The Boy and the Crocodile. Children from the Familia Hope Orphanage in Timor-Leste illustrated the book.
For more information on the book, go to www.theboyandthecrocodile.com.au. All proceeds benefit the orphanage.