ChildFund Timor-Leste is working with the Alola Foundation to support men in the Liquica District to have better conversations around maternal health so that they can better support mothers giving birth and raise strong, healthy children.
Laurindo and Jorge are two fathers taking part in the MenCare training program. The workshops support men in rural and remote areas to grow their knowledge and develop the leadership skills so they can lead their own forums and talk to their peers about maternal health.
The MenCare program empowers men to talk to their peers about maternal and children’s health care. This involves caring for their wife and child immediately after birth, understanding common children’s illnesses and gender equality in the home. This means sharing domestic duties and caring responsibilities evenly.
Jorge is a community leader and runs a saving and loan education program in his village. He took part in the MenCare training so he could confidently start conversations about maternal health with other men in his community.
“In the training sessions we focused on group work and learned about a whole variety of health topics. I really appreciated this and was happy to see that I already knew some of the information they were sharing. After the training, I went back and shared what I had learnt with other men in my community.”
Jorge explained that this training was helpful because the information supports men in the community to help their partners when they have children and that he can already apply what he learned to his own life.
Laurindo is also a role model in his community, sharing what he knew about maternal and children health with his peers, but he knew there were some gaps in his knowledge. After attending the training, he said that he knew more about gender equality and could see ways to apply this knowledge to his own life.
“When we talked about gender there is a saying that men can do women’s work but there are some things that men can’t do like give birth and breastfeed. But we learned that in every other way, men and women are equal and I agree with that,” said Laurindo.
Laurindo said that this training has strengthened his role as a father.
“I have to be honest and sincere as a father. I play with my kids, play football, tell them stories and sometimes take the kids for a walk. I share my experiences with them, I encourage them to study too.”
Fathers like Jorge and Laurindo play a critical role in breaking down gender barriers and raising awareness for maternal healthcare. Through the MenCare training, they have the skills and confidence to have open conversations about maternal health with other men in their areas.