Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Special delivery: women give birth safely

Isabelle wants to deliver her fifth child at a health centre
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2012/Andy Brown
Isabelle de Santos, 29, lives in Suku (village) Hatólia in Ermera district, Timor-Leste. Her husband is a coffee farmer. She already has four children aged six to 12-years old, and is four months pregnant with her fifth. “I’m hoping it will be a boy so he can help his father in the fields,” she says, laughing.

Suku Hatólia is part of a new initiative that encourages women to give birth at their nearest health centre. After a meeting with her local community, Isabelle signed up. “I don’t want to suffer or die giving birth,” she says. “Now, when I go into labour we can call the health centre and they will send the ambulance to collect me. I’m very happy to know they will come.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Water of life: remote villages get sanitation

Francisca Martinez with her niece, 18-month old Luciana
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2012/Andy Brown
Francisca Martinez lives in Suku (village) Estado, high in the mountains of Ermera district in Timor-Leste. She doesn’t know her age exactly but guesses around 30. She has two teenage children of her own and helps look after her sister’s young children. “All the families round here are coffee farmers,” she says. “We earn up to $500 a year selling sacks of beans to an American company. We also keep pigs and chickens and grow corn to eat.”

Suku Estado is part of a water and sanitation project supported by UNICEF and local NGO Haburas Ita Moris (Lift Up Your Life), which motivates local communities to build their own latrines. “We used to have to walk 40 minutes to the river to collect water and we went to the toilet in the bush,” Francisca continues. “Now we’ve built our own latrine and we have a water pump. It’s much better this way – it keeps the village environment clean.”