Stories of Change

Odete makes a more nutritious version of the local favorite, rice porridge

Teaming up for better health in Timor-Leste

When our team first visited Gariana hamlet in Timor-Leste, we were surprised by how hard it was for families here to get basic health care. We heard that for two years, no one from Gariana had been able to access the government-guaranteed Integrated Community Health Services that are meant to bring doctors and other health care workers–and vital vaccinations–to rural families like those in Gariana. When we heard this, our team began partnering with Health Center staff to reinvigorate the integrated health services in Gariana.

One person who is excited about this development is Odete Martins Bruno. Odete is a mother of two who has been participating in our Timor Zero Hunger program activities. She’s excited about the return of government health outreach efforts so that her children can be vaccinated against preventable disease and her family will be able to get other health services. 

As the government’s program is being reintroduced to Gariana, our team is supplementing with additional information for families who are seeking care. Our focus is nutrition and using locally available foods. For example, we hosted a nutrition workshop on how to enhance the rice porridge that is the staple of their children’s diets with nutritious ingredients. During the workshop, Odete said, “I always assumed that my children didn’t like vegetables. 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. In all, 67 mothers who have a combined 87 young children As part of the Timor Zero Hunger program, 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.