CWS – Community Teamwork Brings Government Basic Health Care Back to Gariana

CWS Timor-Leste | August 26, 2019

Odete’s more nutritious version of the local favorite rice porridge. Photo: CWS

When CWS staff first visited Gariana hamlet, we were surprised at how many challenges the community faced to get basic health care. For two years, we learned, no one had access to government-guaranteed Integrated Community Health Services, that are meant to bring doctors and other health care workers, and vital vaccinations, to rural families nationwide. In response, CWS staff are now partnering with Health Center staff to reinvigorate the integrated services in Gariana.

One person who is happy about this change is Odete Martins Bruno. She is a mother of two who joins CWS-organized Timor Zero Hunger activities designed to help her improve her families wellbeing. She is happy to see the government’s health outreach efforts start up again so, at the very least, her children can be vaccinated against preventable disease.

As the government health program is being reintroduced in Gariana, CWS staff take advantage of the change to share additional information with families seeking care. Our focus is nutrition using locally available foods. So, for example, mothers were reminded to use nutritious ingredients in the rice porridge their children eat. “I always assumed that my children didn’t like vegetables”, Odete said during the nutrition workshop. “But after we were encouraged to cut nutritious vegetables into small piece that blend well with the rice porridge, I was surprised to see my children eat plenty!” This is a small but valuable lesson for Odete … and other moms, too.

As part of the Timor Zero Hunger initiative on Timor island, in one lesson alone in Gariana alone, CWS has a chance to support 67 mothers to properly prepare rice porridge for their 87 young children. Going forward, CWS plans to expand to more villages on both sides of the island in partnership with national health workers and community leaders for the benefit of vulnerable families and their young children’s health and nutrition.

(For more information please contact broberts@cwsglobal.org )

Odete (left) and her neighbor read a recipe for a new veggie-rice porridge. Photo: CWS

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