Graciano was 15 months when he was diagnosed with malnutrition.
“After I stopped breastfeeding Graciano, he got itchy skin,” Joseta says. “He was eating less and less. I was worried about his health.”
ChildFund Timor-Leste Community Health Volunteer Odete was visiting the family to monitor Graciano’s growth – as she has done on a monthly basis since ChildFund’s nutrition project began in the community – when she realised Graciano weighed in at only 7kg. She referred Graciano to the local health post, where he was diagnosed and placed on a treatment plan for malnutrition.
Today, Odete is continuing to keep a close eye on Graciano and is ensuring Joseta takes him to regular health check-ups at the health post.
“The biggest challenge for me is there is no food to feed my children,” Joseta says. “I’m a widow and it is difficult to work and raise my children.”
ChildFund’s three-year nutrition project, which is supported by the Australian Government, has been running in Joseta’s community for about a year and aims to prevent child malnutrition in six disadvantaged villages in Timor-Leste. Trained Community Health Volunteers like Odete are regularly monitoring the growth of vulnerable children like Graciano to prevent them from becoming malnourished, and are also educating parents and carers about healthy hygiene practices and how to cook and prepare a range of local nutritious foods to feed their children.
ChildFund will also be helping families grow a wider range of nutritious foods by providing them with seeds and training on how to grow backyard gardens.