Friday, April 17, 2015

Nutrition in Timor-Leste, where half the children are stunted

Emilia fed Sebastiao with breast milk for six months
© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/ Christiane Rudert
I’m the regional nutrition adviser for UNICEF in East Asia and the Pacific. I recently visited the small, young island country of Timor-Leste, to get a better understanding of the nutrition situation and UNICEF’s work on nutrition there. During the visit I went to the district of Ermera.

The rough, muddy road to Ermera winds up the steep, exuberantly green mountainside. The scattered houses exemplify impoverishment, and the small plots of maize, albeit very tall, do not suggest a robust foundation of agriculture. As we climbed further up this road, and the rainclouds closed in, now and then we came across groups of school children walking slowly along, very far from any village or school.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Defying the Odds, Dreaming Big

UNICEF staff interacting with Nina during her visit at the shelter home at
Atabae Sub-district of Bobonaro District.©UNICEF Timor-Leste/2015/Opinto
It is a rainy day in Atabae, a remote sub-district of Maliana District, which borders West-Timor. People are busy doing daily chores.  The scenario is not very different in the “Maria Tapo” shelter home situated on the outskirts of Atabae.

Nina  has just arrived from school along with other children. Her clothes are soaked from the rain but she smiles when she sees Jose Henrique, the Child Protection Officer who saved her from uncle’s house who used to routinely abuse her.

Coping with Natural Disaster: Building Resilience

Joao de Jesus Araujo, the eight-grade student of the Maumeta Basic Education Central School, Remexio of Aileu district attending emergency orientation session along with his classmates.
UNICEF Timor-Leste/Joao de Jesus
Mountainous village Maumeta of Aileu is two hours’ drive from Dili, capital of Timor-Leste. Inhabitants of this village are living with natural disaster as part of their life.

“Flood, strong wind, lightning and landslide are common disasters we face every year in our village,” says Zeremias Martin (14), while talking about natural disaster.

“It was mid-January 2015, when heavy rain and strong winds accompanied by lightning occurred in Maumeta village and lasted for a week. This is not something new for the villagers as our village is located at the mountain area. This time we are able to handle the situation better with support from my teachers, neighbours and fellow students; thanks to the training that we received on disaster risk reduction,” says Joao de Jesus Araujo, a 19 -year old, 8th-grade student of Maumeta Basic Education Central School, Remexio.

Nutrition project brings hope

Glorindo Pereira, 18 months with his mother Silvina da Silva (37 years old)
and his father Oscar BM Carmona (41 years old)
@UNICEF Timor-Leste/2015/Mpgoncalves
18-month-old Glorindos Pereira is playing on his mother’s lap. His smiles and playful face bring contentment to his parents. It is hard to believe that he was struggling for life only a month before. The memory of that night is still alive in Silvina da Silva’s (37), Glorindos’s mother’s mind.

Glorindos was suffering from a cold but his parents did not notice that the poor child was also suffering from a breathing problem. They thought it was a common illness of children of his age and that he would be fine. “All of a sudden, at night, I noticed something was seriously wrong, my baby was struggling to breath. At one point, I thought I am losing my baby,” says Silvina while sharing her experiences. Glorindos family lives in Rita-Bou village in Maliana and he is  his parents’ fifth child.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Special delivery: women give birth safely

Isabelle wants to deliver her fifth child at a health centre
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2012/Andy Brown
Isabelle de Santos, 29, lives in Suku (village) Hatólia in Ermera district, Timor-Leste. Her husband is a coffee farmer. She already has four children aged six to 12-years old, and is four months pregnant with her fifth. “I’m hoping it will be a boy so he can help his father in the fields,” she says, laughing.

Suku Hatólia is part of a new initiative that encourages women to give birth at their nearest health centre. After a meeting with her local community, Isabelle signed up. “I don’t want to suffer or die giving birth,” she says. “Now, when I go into labour we can call the health centre and they will send the ambulance to collect me. I’m very happy to know they will come.”