November 13 - 19, 2011: Issue 32

Above: Sue (left) and Anne with some of their charges. Below; (L to R) Sue, Anne and Maree.

Content and Images are kindly provided by Jill Hillary, HIAM Health, 3 Events and Sue Williamson. All Rights Reserved.

 Hiam Health

Jill Hillary, a single mother of four adult children, travelled to Timor Leste in April 2004 as a self-funded volunteer. Thirteen days after she arrived she met Rosaria Martins de Cruz, Director of HIAM-Health. The name HIAM-Health, chosen by Rosaria, comes from an abbreviation of the East Timorese words Hamutuk Ita Ajuda Malu or "Together we help each other").

HIAM Health is a Non Government Organisation (NGO) based in Dili East Timor (Timor Leste) working to create a future for this struggling nation in the way of education, rehabilitation and prevention of malnutrition.  HIAM is the initiative of Rosaria and has been operating out of Dili National Hospital since Nov 2003.

Earlier this year Sue Williamson, who was attending the Independence Day of Timor Leste at Avalon’s Maria Regina Primary school, spoke about her plans to travel to Dili as a volunteer, with other Australian nurses and a dietician, to help with this work. Sue is a lactation consultant. Asked if she would share a few of her experiences on returning Sue kindly forwarded some letters and other information regarding HIAM.

The vision/mission of HIAM-Health is to reduce malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality in Timor Leste by empowering individuals and communities through education and training programs. HIAM-Health is a locally based NGO, which was established in 2003 and currently has 35 staff members.  Since 2003, the organisation has run a number of health care programs throughout Timor Leste.

There are major shortages of Human Resources in Timor-Leste especially in the area of health and in particular Nutrition. In the entire country there are only about 3 nutritionists. So far there are still no educational institutions providing courses in this area. There are approximately 200,000 children under<5years in Timor Leste and almost 60% are suffering from malnutrition. It is a similar situation for women especially those who are either pregnant or lactating.

From Sue’s first letter to us, prior to leaving;

I don't know how much of a difference we can make in a month, it seems just a small drop in the bucket, but we will give it our best shot. I hope eventually other Lactation Consultants will follow us, for it is only when we pull together that we can make a difference in peoples lives and hopefully make small but important changes in the existing culture.

Thank you, Sue Williamson RN RM IBCLC

On her return:

Bon Dia Colleagues Friends and Family,

Our time at HIAM health Dili has been an amazing cultural, emotional and educational experience for Anne, Maree and myself. The Timorese have endured incredible hardships and yet are simple, happy people, interested in learning, especially those in our class room.
We have had 20 days of teaching breastfeeding and nutrition also laughter, singing and exercises.
Our endorphins are high. We sleep well. The 3 of us have bonded well and our skills complimented each others personalities. We could have never have picked a better team.
We have taught women and men from three different communities, Aileu, Ermera district and Atauro Island. They are valued leaders of their communities -  non medical. They have shared with us their culture and stories and we will never forget.
Also the HIAM health workers were in our sessions most of the time. They have heard the information three times over, so hopefully they can continue to teach the mothers in the centre. There are nurses amongst them plus those who are studying nutrition, a great benefit to the centre. They have been very impressive. Jill has chosen well and they have great respect for her and Rosaria. We had about 15 to 20 people at each session.
The Mothers and babies/ toddlers in residence about 10 to 15 and some siblings, usually stay for 21 days depending on the condition. We have children with TB, heart disease with a weak suck etc., all with malnutrition. They are put on a "plump-up" corn meal program. It takes about 2 months to make a difference in their body structure.
There are 10 breastfeeding mothers in the center at the moment and we will be teaching an encouraging them over the next couple of days and spending time with the little one with a weak suck.

Jill Hillary (Aussie), and Rosaria (Timorese) - the directors, are
amazing. Jill is the advisor and Rosaria Martins da Cruz, the up-front person. Both had a vision for this place, meaning 'together we can help each other'. You can read all about them on the HIAM Health web site.
There is a miracle tree here called the MORINGA tree, very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Maree has been encouraging everyone to eat it 3 times a day for health and wellbeing. What a blessing as it grows all over Timor, it's like breast milk, free and readily available.
We visited Dr Dan Murphy's clinic at Bairo Pita. You also can google this amazing person from the USA. So many medical problems and then a ward full of stunted young children, - oh so much to take in! During our 2 hour round with him, we checked 5 new babies born overnight and witnessed a TB mother, ill for many years, take her last breath! He sees 300 patients a day through his clinic!
Our R & R at Atauro Island over night seemed like a full week of rest. We stayed in an Eco hut and enjoyed meeting people who were bringing various skills to help Timor get back on their feet. It warmed our hearts to hear their stories. The clear sea water refreshed us no end.

We enjoyed being at the celebration for Tour de Timor the extremely tough annual bike ride, even shook hands with the President, Prime Minister and his Aussie wife Kirsty. Oh my what a day!
We also were invited to the US Embassy to have cocktails with Judith Fergin the Ambassador.
Always so much excitement going on here in Dili, we will never be the same.

All the best
Sue Williamson RM IBCLC
Anne Scollon RM IBCLC
Maree Twomey BS Nutrition

This just last week:

I have just received this from Jill Hillary in Dili re more information about HIAM health, its a great Power Point presentation. Also she gives us info on how to donate. Jill told me that funds run out next May for HIAM, so I hope we can support this good and worthy work.
Link in order to download the HIAM Health PP presentation files.

On the HIAM website there are 2 options for donating funds to HIAM one by Paypal with does not generate an Aust tax receipt and the other is a link to directly to AFAP. For more information see