A Malnourished People In A Land Without Famine
Typically, food shortages arise when the land is barren or suffering drought. However, Timor-Leste is so fertile, almost anything grows. So why are the Timorese malnourished?
According to The National Nutritional Strategy 2012- 2017 paper commissioned by the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste, “There is no clear consensus on the core cause(s) of malnutrition or on the large variations among districts. Among the reasons given for high levels of malnutrition were: the lingering effects of civil war and related disruption of livelihoods and government services, extreme poverty, low agricultural productivity, overemphasis on staple foods (especially rice), poor health services, lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, poor accessing to health services, low public investment and capacity in nutrition, insufficient public knowledge of what is good nutrition and the consequences of under-nutrition, and a plethora of “traditional” or “cultural” attitudes and beliefs and taboos around certain foods and eating practices. Many of these explanations are related, being causal or consequential to others. On the basis that there is some validity to all of these explanations, we concluded that a comprehensive, integrated and multi-sector approach would be an essential part of any national nutritional strategy.”
Teach A Mother. Save A Nation.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Given the complex causes for malnutrition in Timor-Leste, HIAM Health takes sustainable action to eliminate malnourishment. Beyond restoring malnourished children, we empower mothers to become change agents for life.
Mothers arrive at our MR&EC hoping only for their malnourished child to survive. However, they leave equipped with lifelong skills that ensure the nourishment of her entire family.
Here, we make every mother an active participant of her child’s rehabilitation. We teach her to grow her own garden to cook balanced meals. As she witnesses her child regain health, she personally experiences the full value of nutrition – crucial in a country that learns by doing.
We are proud that former President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta has not only praised our holistic approach, but has rallied for nationwide support of our intensive Health and Nutrition education programs. More
Timor-Leste’s communities are founded on the oral tradition. Thus, every success story spreads widely through word of mouth back in the village. Though immeasurable, our education of mothers is key in shifting mindsets and changing behavior. Through enlightened mothers, we are building strong villages.