A Healthy Start

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Maubara children with visitors
Maubara children with visitors

The right start in life is a healthy start – and that is the only start from which children can realise their promise and potential. We owe that to every child, everywhere. (UNICEF report 2013)

Despite recent efforts, malnutrition remains a major concern in Timor-Leste. Many children are stunted and wasted, technical terms for the dreadful legacy of too little to eat. Too little to eat for the body means too little fuel for the mind, and thin, sick children find it hard to learn. Lack of proper diet makes the children susceptible to ordinary illnesses, which for them, become life-threatening, e.g. anemia, malaria and diarrhea. Thirty-nine children out of every 1000 die before their fifth birthday, compared to four out of every 1000 in Australia.

Gerald Kenneally in the Maubara kitchen
Gerald Kenneally in the Maubara kitchen

Orphaned children, mainly coming from situations of extreme poverty and hunger, are particularly vulnerable. The Sisters who care for the children at St Therese’s orphanage, Maubara, are very aware of the need for good food to build up the children’s strength and energy. The children are served simple but nutritious meals consisting mainly of rice and vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and local fruits. The lack of protein in the Timorese diet is a major source of malnutrition but as far as possible the Sisters ensure that the children are served a balanced diet.

The orphanage is a home and the older children are called on to help with the preparation and serving of the meals e.g. to peel the vegetables, set the tables in the dining room and serve the food. Cleanliness and hygiene is also important and the dining area is kept clean and tidy.

ATLAS is committed to supporting the orphanage and has undertaken to provide regular monthly payments for the upkeep of the children.   It is also ready to assist with projects to maintain, expand and improve facilities. ATLAS has responded positively to a recent request from the Sisters to assist them with the building of a new kitchen. The one in present use is in poor condition, as you will see from the photograph. The Sisters have engaged a local builder to undertake the work which will include a new structure containing better facilities and safer, more hygienic cooking conditions.

The quotation for the building is US$35,343.82 with progress payments to be made at stipulated times. Thanks to generous donations already received, we are almost half-way towards the target.  We would be delighted if you can join us in this worthwhile project.  We will keep you informed about progress along the way.  Let’s help these children realise their promise and potential.  They are the  nation’s future!

Come along to Timor Time on Sunday 27th September at Dooley’s Catholic Club Lidcombe, 12 noon for 12:30. Tickets are $48 for a great meal, entertainment and information. Contact Rayella Haines for tickets. See you there!

Sister Josephine Mitchell