From heartbreak to hope in Timor-Leste

By CARE Australia May 5, 2015 0 comments

Maria lost five children to hunger and disease. Now she is a champion for children's health. Photo: © Josh Estey/CARE

In CARE’s work in some of the most impoverished communities around the world, we’ve seen that when women are equipped with the right skills, tools and training, they become vehicles for change – helping lift entire communities out of poverty. Here is Maria from Timor-Leste’s story:

When CARE first began a Safe Motherhood Project in her village, 43-year-old Maria was the first to put her hand up. “I want the children here to have a good education,” says Maria who lives in the remote village of Atsabe in Timor-Leste.

Through the CARE-supported training, Maria and other women in the community have learned about nutrition; building kitchen gardens and learning how to fertilise to ensure a healthy crop. Maria and her group have also learned how to cook healthy, balanced meals for the family, and Maria now prepares her household’s meals from vegetables in her garden.

Maria is passionate about helping mothers protect children from malnutrition. But her gentle demeanour belies years of heartbreak; Maria has lost five children. Like many preventable deaths of children under five in developing communities around the world, lack of access to nutrition and healthcare were underlying factors.

Help communities like Maria’s access nutrition education, healthcare and other basics by donating today.

A baby on the way brings new hope for Maria. The training and education she received from the Safe Motherhood Project has given her newfound confidence in helping bring up her children happy, healthy and strong.

Aside from nutrition training, Maria has also learned about the importance of birth spacing. Maria and her husband have decided that after the birth, they will use contraception. They also plan to vaccinate their child to help protect them from preventable disease. “I have already been vaccinated while pregnant with this child,” says Maria. I want it to be healthy as well.”

Maria has a safe birth plan, which she learned about through CARE’s training. She knows her village is so remote that getting to a health centre may be difficult when she goes into labour. She has prioritised getting health checks throughout the pregnancy, so that she is best prepared should she need to give birth at home.

Maria is excited about the future of her little family as well as that of her close-knit community.  “I want us to have access to the markets so we can sell our vegetables. I want the women in the village to be aware of danger signs during and after pregnancy.”

Women like Maria are proof that when tools and training are made available to hardworking communities, lasting change is possible. Learn more about our work helping families around the world to protect their children from hunger and disease.





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