By Amelia Taylor, CARE Australia
As a mother of two boys in Timor-Leste, Juvita is naturally proud of her children’s achievements, but none more so than the progress they are making on their CARE growth chart.
Every month, Juvita attends a CARE-supported government health post in Balibo, Timor-Leste, with her husband and two boys, three-year-old Antonio* and seven-month-old Julio*. Here, the boys are measured, weighed and their growth is plotted against their records for the past three years.
Today, Antonio* tips the scales at 13 kilograms, while little Julio* is a healthy eight kilograms. In a country with high infant and child mortality, and where half the children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, Juvita is thrilled with their results.
Should the boys fall from the green and into the yellow warning part of their growth chart, CARE refers children to government health workers who provide supplementary feeding. The boys also receive immunisations at the centre, and basic health checks.
‘I feel better now,’ explains Juvita, ‘because I can get some information on health and bring my children to get treatment, get a check up and get medication if they need it. The children are healthier than before.’
Juvita herself also benefits from the centre. As a pregnant and then breastfeeding woman, she has her weight monitored with similar supplementary feeding available if required.
She has also learnt information vital to her young family’s health from the CARE-trained community health volunteers at the centre. These community members speak to the group of around 100 people at the monthly sessions about different health risks and how to reduce them – including malaria, malnutrition and anaemia.
‘I have learnt to use a mosquito net, drink clean boiled water and to wash our hands. These things have made my family healthier,’ Juvita says.
She appreciates learning the information from a familiar local community member who is aware of local traditions and concerns.
‘The health volunteers provide education and a lot of information about health to the community. They are well trained in giving these messages. I like the advice being provided by them.’
The benefits for this family are evident, not only from the boys’ growth charts but also from the proud smile on Juvita’s face as she looks at her youngest son sleeping peacefully in her arms.
*CARE is committed to being a child safe organisation. Names of children have been changed.