My gorgeous sister in law, Kerry, has been working in Timor for a few months – organising a women’s conference for next year, for the Alola Foundation. While she’s been there, she’s been educating me about the day to day reality of life for women in East Timor.
The Alola Foundation works hard to end domestic violence, to improve maternal and child health, to boost educational outcomes for children, and to educate and support women to support themselves and their families.
East Timor has one of the highest mortality rates for women in childbirth anywhere in the world. Because of Portugese colonisation it’s a predominantly Catholic country, so birth control is practically unavailable. Timorese women have very high fertility, averaging ten pregnancies over a lifetime.
Although Timor has very high rates of breastfeeding, a comparatively low percentage of babies are exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age, and up to 2 years of age as per World Health Organisation Guidelines. Poor feeding practices contribute to high infant mortality.
Children in East Timor speak Tetun, the native language, and usually Bahasa Indonesia. Portuguese is the official national language that they will learn in school, and many also will learn some English. Kerry told me about a pre-school that she visited that has over 80 students in a house about the size of a small car.
If you have kids, and have some old books that they have grown out of, please consider donating them to this little school. Kerry will be in Australia for Christmas, and will be able to take some books back with her in January.
Because English is the 4th language for these kids, picture books with no words, or only a single word are useful. Books in reasonable condition would be appreciated, as they are going to be loved by a great many children. New books would also be appreciated.
And if you can’t send books, please consider making a donation here, to help women you will never meet lead a richer life.
Leave a comment and I will email you details of where to post the books, or I can arrange to collect them from you if you live in Sydney.
Please cross post and spread the word!