Hamutuk Ita Ajuda Malu Together We Help Each Other
HIAM Health

Rehabilitating a Child

Infant referred to MR&EC
Infant arriving at the MR&EC for rehabilitation after being referred by Dili National Hospital.

The Road to HIAM Health

HIAM Health works through a referral system and accepts malnourished infants or children after they have been diagnosed as malnourished without life threatening complications from any hospitals, clinic or health post. This way, we serve everyone from all over the country, ensuring that the health lessons we teach spread widely across the nation when rehabilitated mothers return home.

Changing Behaviours for Lasting Impact

We firmly believe in real behavioral change for a permanent reduction in malnutrition. Currently, there are many local beliefs and customs that stand in the way of healthcare improvements. Yet, the very act of a mother bringing a child to HIAM Health signals openness to change. A mother has initiated the first step. Healthy growth and a normal life for the child now becomes a strong possibility.

Mothers attending a health education class
Health education class for mothers residing in the MR&EC.

Based on a verbal commitment to HIAM Health, every mother participates in our daily education programs. They learn to cultivate a variety of produce, cook them in a balanced meal, and feed their children nutritiously.

Rehabilitating Babies and Young Children

Some of the highest rates of malnutrition in Timor-Leste occur between children from 9 months to 2 years of age. At HIAM's MR&EC, the children are fed five times a day. This consists of special therapeutic snacks mid morning and mid afternoon. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are balanced diets that we have taught mum to prepare. For moderately malnourished children, supplementary foods are CSB (Corn Soy Blend), and for severely malnourished children, it's Plumpy Nut. All these provisions are provided by WFP (World Food Program), distributed by the Timor Leste Ministry of Health.

Feeding the Mothers. Securing the First 1000 Days

Monoculture has led to high food insecurity in Timor-Leste. Many expecting mothers suffer from malnutrition, resulting in poor neonatal growth. Babies malnourished in the womb have a higher risk of dying in infancy and are more likely to face lifelong cognitive and physical deficits and chronic health problems.

Checking a baby's MUAC
Checking baby's MUAC at the 12th week home visit.

Because the first 1000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd  birthday has a  profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty, we extend supplementary feeding to pregnant and lactating women who arrive at the MR&EC with their malnourished child.

Providing healthy meals even after pregnancy enables every mother to breastfeed effectively for the first six months – a vital period to build the immune system of each child.

We keep Watching over You

Monitoring is an important aspect of our program. A Field Assessor will visit the family 12 weeks after discharge to assess the effectiveness of our intervention program on the mother. We chat and observe if the families are now practicing clean hygiene, sanitation and good nutrition. Families fill in a questionnaire to help us evaluate. The rehabilitated infant or child is checked for signs of good health with measurements recorded. Should the child's weight drop, we offer the mother the option of returning to the MR&EC for more training.

Education and Skills Development

Imparting knowledge to mothers
To complement our feeding programs, we impart crucial, specialized knowledge on breastfeeding, nutrition and hygiene to the mothers of young children.

Learning to Live

Mornings at the MR&EC are when mothers and caregivers gain vital health education from trained HIAM staff. Topics of discussion include exclusive breast feeding for first 6 months, correct weaning foods for infants, hygiene and sanitation practices, management of diarrhea in children, child spacing, understanding what is good nutrition and a balanced diet, effects of poor nutrition on infant development, and how to prepare and cook food to retain its nutritional value.

Home Kitchen Gardens

A successful garden
A successful garden.

Seeds of Sustenance

Every afternoon, the HIAM team conducts workshops for caregivers in our 700 sgm training garden. We motivate caregivers learn to develop and maintain their very own ‘Home Kitchen Garden’. Because 70% of the population of Timor-Leste live at subsistence level, teaching mothers and caregivers to grow their own food is highly essential for food security. While we impart practical knowledge to mothers, their infant or children are being rehabilitated back to full health according to the criteria of the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.

Producing organic pesticides
Low cost techniques for producing organic pesticides.

Home Kitchen Garden Extension

Signing agreements
Community leader signing agreements for HIAM to assist in developing a village vegetable garden.

Cultivating Increase Together

During each post discharge home visit, our team will take the opportunity to identify other families who may be interested in developing a ‘Home Kitchen Garden’. After consulting with the extended families of our patients, we will then conduct an assessment of their site. We find out whether they have sufficient land, access to water, and possess the necessary commitment. Once everything is good to go, we come back with the design, the tools, and the seeds to help them implement their very own home garden. The goodwill doesn’t stop here. Our faithful team returns with several follow up and evaluation visits.

Assisting in building a seedling house
Our team assisting the community to build a seedling house.
Assisting in designing a garden layout
Our team assisting the community to design garden layout

Women Empowerment Groups

Course comprising of partner NGOs, staff and locals
Female influencers of communities come together to learn how to identify children at risk, basic nutrition and hygiene among other key topics.

Educating & Empowering Women

In a 5-day residential course at the MR&EC, groups of 14 women, each a key influencer within their community, come together to learn how to eat and live well. We teach them to identify children at risk of malnutrition, the causes, basic nutrition, the importance of exclusive breatfeeding and a balanced diet, the impact of poor hygiene and sanitation practices, the importance of child spacing, the merit of individual, family or community gardens, and the role they play in reducing malnutrition. Since gardens can also reducing poverty through sales of excess produce, we offer these women a viable way to make a living through nutrition.

Why we Focus on Women

In Timor-Leste, women are the primary caregivers of the family. The entire family depends on the mother for health and survival. Women make day-to-day decisions about diet, hygiene, disease prevention and treatment, especially with regards to young children. Beyond available economic resources and health care, every woman's decision is based on the ability to obtain knowledge and the autonomy to make choices. We aim to empower the women of Timor-Leste to become everyday home garderners, skilled family nutritionists and competent mothers through our training.

Community Training Groups

Learning about drip irrigation
Learning the concept of drip irrigation.

Enriching Minds. Building Communities.

Appointed by the Chefe du Sucos (community leaders), mixed groups of 14 will receive education and training on a variety of topics. From basic vegetable gardening using permaculture principles, compost systems, drip irrigation and nutrition, participants are free to choose topics most relevant their community. After each course, the group consults their community to gain consensus on having a village garden. And if they decide to have one, our team proceeds with the tools and seeds and sets the project in motion.

Organization Group Training

Community working together
Various NGOs come to learn more on topics of their choice.

Helping the World Make an Impact.

All across the world, various local and international NGOs are visiting the MR&EC to learn more on community issues.

Singaporean students help implement a community garden.
SAS students from Singapore supporting the implementation of a community garden.

With each study, these groups provide HIAM Health with an income to sustain our Rehabilitation Centre.

Selected by the groups or their adopted villages, topics range from Health to Nutrition to Horticulture or a combination of all. After training, groups may request for the HIAM Health team to help implement a community garden in an actual village.