Recently the CWS Timor-Leste team received an unexpected visitor – a woman on a mission. Literally! Sister Julia Shideler stopped in our Dili office in search of information-education-communication (IEC) materials about HIV prevention. Born in Oakland, CA, Sister Julia is a Roman Catholic Maryknoll missionary who has worked in Timor-Leste for the last 9 years. A fluent Tetum speaker, Sister Julia teaches English and biology, including sexual and reproductive health, at several senior high schools in Ailieu district, which is about an hour’s drive from Dili.
Faced with a lack of information about HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections (STI) for her 500+ students, Sister Julia got in touch with the National AIDS Commission, which referred her to CWS. Of course our Dili team was happy to share all the materials created through the years and they are also happy to hear that, so far, 200+ students have used the information to improve their knowledge about HIV-AIDS and other STI risks.
Sister Julia was especially happy about our materials’ use of pictures and simple Tetum, which make it easy for her students to understand complex information and also to share it with their school mates – as they have begun to do, along with making plans to advocate for more HIV-AIDS / STI awareness and prevention in their community.