Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nutrition in Timor-Leste, where half the children are stunted

Emilia fed Sebastiao with breast milk for six months
© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/ Christiane Rudert
I’m the regional nutrition adviser for UNICEF in East Asia and the Pacific. I recently visited the small, young island country of Timor-Leste, to get a better understanding of the nutrition situation and UNICEF’s work on nutrition there. During the visit I went to the district of Ermera.

The rough, muddy road to Ermera winds up the steep, exuberantly green mountainside. The scattered houses exemplify impoverishment, and the small plots of maize, albeit very tall, do not suggest a robust foundation of agriculture. As we climbed further up this road, and the rainclouds closed in, now and then we came across groups of school children walking slowly along, very far from any village or school.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UNICEF supporters coming together for Vanuatu

Jackson Hill, 2, joined his parents on a sponsored walk to raise
money for children affected by Cyclone Pam
© UNICEF UK/2015
British toddler Jackson Hill has only just taken his first steps but, with the support of his parents, he has just completed a sponsored walk for children in Vanuatu.

“We have been lucky to travel to many countries but none as welcoming as Vanuatu,” said the parents of two-year-old Jackson. “The kindness and generosity we experienced from the people we met was humbling.”

“We are very keen to do what we can from the UK to support communities affected by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. We recognise the incredible work carried out by UNICEF and wanted to support its vital work in emergency relief.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cyclone-affected family prioritises their children’s education

Mother Nuku with her daughter Evelyn, who has received
school supplies from UNICEF © UNICEF Pacific/2015/Sokhin 
It took mother of four, Nuku Kilorie and her family 20 terrifying minutes to reach safety when Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, completely destroying her family home on March 13, 2015.

Their dash to safety also meant crossing the Tebokoa River. In normal times the river poses no threat to anyone but, on this night, it burst its banks, sending a chest-height raging torrent of water, debris and coconut trees through the village, destroying everything in its path.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Children go back to school in Vanuatu

Pupils sit inside a UNICEF tent, being used as a temporary school
structure © UNICEF PACIFIC/2015/Sokhin
After a disturbing event like Cyclone Pam it's important to get children back to learning and playing as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many of the schools in Vanuatu were heavily damaged and will take months to rebuild. But, thanks to UNICEF's support, pupils from St Joseph's College and Vila East Primary school were able to get back to school yesterday.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cyclone Pam affects everyone in the family

L-R. Joyleen, Nathan and Lawrence in the health clinic where they
sheltered from Cyclone Pam with five other families. © UNICEF/2015/Sohkin
Joyleen comforts her four-year-old brother Nathan in a health centre after his measles vaccination. With UNICEF support, Nathan is one of 10,000 children in Vanuatu being immunised against measles.

Vanuatu faced a life-threatening measles outbreak before the cyclone hit. The risk of disease outbreaks hitting vulnerable children is higher after disasters. To minimize risks to children, UNICEF quickly supported the Government to launch a campaign to immunise 10,000 children under the age of five years in just 10 days.