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.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Water of life: remote villages get sanitation

Francisca Martinez with her niece, 18-month old Luciana
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2012/Andy Brown
Francisca Martinez lives in Suku (village) Estado, high in the mountains of Ermera district in Timor-Leste. She doesn’t know her age exactly but guesses around 30. She has two teenage children of her own and helps look after her sister’s young children. “All the families round here are coffee farmers,” she says. “We earn up to $500 a year selling sacks of beans to an American company. We also keep pigs and chickens and grow corn to eat.”

Suku Estado is part of a water and sanitation project supported by UNICEF and local NGO Haburas Ita Moris (Lift Up Your Life), which motivates local communities to build their own latrines. “We used to have to walk 40 minutes to the river to collect water and we went to the toilet in the bush,” Francisca continues. “Now we’ve built our own latrine and we have a water pump. It’s much better this way – it keeps the village environment clean.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ban Ki-moon visits UNICEF-supported school

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, and Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova visited Cassait School in Liquisá district, Timor-Leste. It was part of the Secretary-General’s preparations for the UN’s new ‘Education First’ initiative, which will be launched on 26 September, and Mr Brown’s first overseas trip in his new role.

The Secretary-General presented the school with a UNICEF ‘school-in-a-box’ kit, containing basic education supplies, and the students gave him a traditionally-made model boat. The delegation watched a song and dance performance by school children and visited classrooms, where the Secretary-General read to the children.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

First time voters: get registered

A short video from UNICEF Timor-Leste for the first round Presidential election in 2012. It encourages young people over 17-years-old to register to vote. Made in association with Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral (STAE).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Things have changed in this school

Grade 4 students wave happily before they enter their classes which start at 10:30am
©UNICEF/Timor-Leste 2012/Fdosreis
“I began as a teacher here in 2000,” Mr. Luis Mario de Silva, 40 years old, said quietly. “In 2008, I was made the Director of the School.”  He also shyly adds, “I am also now the Director of Basic Education since I was appointed to the position in 2010.” 

To Mr. de Silva, being the director of the school is a serious responsibility.  It does not matter that to get to this school, a sturdy four-wheel drive car needs to go through the mountain road from the Ermera District’s capital town of Gleno for close to 1 and half hours.  The road to Licapat hugs the side of the mountain range --- weaving and following the contour of the mountains ---  one side of the road showing gapping ravine and on the other side, soil and rock that could obviously be weakened and loosened by intermittent rain.  Despite the seemingly treacherous road, the scene is picturesque with scattered stone-built homes, green tree tops and a rolling valley below. The school itself is carved on the mountainside and could easily be missed as it is off the main road.