Sponsor a Child in Timor-Leste
- ChildFund came to 1990
- Population below poverty line: 50%
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In 2002 Timor-Leste became the first new country of the 21st century in Southeast Asia. Home to more than 1.1 million people, Timor-Leste’s population is young and vulnerable. More than 51 percent of Timorese are under 18 years of age, and the country’s low human development indicators underscore the high infant and maternal mortality rates along with low birth rate and adult illiteracy.
“Before the water was far, but now we are happy because it is close.”
— Elias, 12
Completion rates in primary and secondary education are low and youth unemployment is high. Malnutrition is widespread – 45 percent of children under age five are underweight. Widespread poverty along with a persisting legacy of violence are the post-independence challenges of the country.
Safeguarding the Health of Infants, Mothers
Timor-Leste has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Southeast Asia at 44 per 1,000 live births. Causes include preventable diseases like diarrhea, malaria and respiratory ailments. With poor nutrition and low rates of skilled attendants present at births, 1 in 35 Timorese women are at risk of maternal death.
ChildFund Timor-Leste safeguards the health of infants and mothers through maternal and child health initiatives that range from facilitating the immunization of infants and pregnant mothers to training community volunteers on mobilizing their communities to access the village level health services as well as providing information on the prevention of malaria, diarrhea and respiratory diseases. The volunteers also are trained to identify symptoms in seriously ill children and facilitate referral to professional health care when needed. These initiatives are pursued in coordination with the Ministry of Health.
With 37 percent of the rural population having no access to safe drinking water along with 52 percent having no access to toilets, ChildFund Timor-Leste provides water and sanitation facilities and capacity building for rural communities. In a village in Bobonaro district, ChildFund Timor-Leste constructed three water wells thereby saving villagers valuable time normally spent carrying water from a distant river.
“Before the water was far, but now we are happy because it is close,” says 12 year old Elias.
In addition, laundry and washing areas and sanitation facilities were built, while parents and children were trained in diarrhea prevention and hygiene practices.
Building the Future through Education
The majority of Timor-Leste’s population lives in remote, rural villages. Many children are forced to drop out of school because of the long distances they have to walk to get to school. In many cases, boys are supported to continue their schooling whereas girls are not. Government statistics highlight that 45 percent of six-year-old girls are not in school, compared to 34 percent of boys the same age. A World Bank study in 2006 found that eight out of ten children in grade 5 had not achieved minimum levels of learning.
Pre-school education is critical in the educational development of Timorese children because it prepares them for formal schooling. Early childhood care and development classes are provided to children aged 3-5 years in centers equipped with learning materials and basic facilities. Trained teachers conduct activities that enable the young children to learn to write, read, count, play and interact with their peers.
Sponsor a child in Timor-Leste and make a difference in a child’s life.
ChildFund Timor-Leste also works with primary schools and Parent Teacher Associations not only to improve school facilities and family literacy but also to encourage the involvement of the parents and the community in the education of their children.
The director of a primary school in Covalima district stated, “There are many schools in Timor’s 13 districts, and although we always ask the government for support, government resources are limited. The support that we receive from ChildFund means that our students don’t have to sit on the floor to study.”