Cliff Morris went to East Timor as a twenty year old soldier during 1942 where he learned about the complexities of the Animist religion and to admire the Timorese people for their common human concern for all people. On visiting the island in 1973 accompanied by his son Peter, he learned how the friendship so freely given in 1942 had cost the people very dearly in the revenge carried out by the Japanese, after the departure of the Australian troops.

He resolved to commit his life to do something of everlasting good for the people. For ten years he struggled to completing a 10,000 word Tetun-English dictionary from his own fading memory, then with the help of Paulo Quintao da Costa who authenticated the word list, it was finally published by the Australian National University in 1984 as a memorial to all those who lost their lives in Timor in the war against the Japanese. In 1983 he travelled Australia looking for people who were well versed in the story telling of the Animist religion and from this work produced a small book containing some of the village stories and poems to save them from being lost as they are probably no longer told in their country of origin.