April 14 - 27, 2019: Issue 401



In recent years there have been many medical and health improvements in Soibada. The most noteworthy is the fact that the village now has its own Timorese Doctors. These young men and women were trained at university in Cuba and speak fluent Spanish! We chat on Facebook Messenger regularly, have our own Facebook Group,  and I often need to use Google translate to help with communication.

The medical facilities and equipment they use are still lacking and the doctors have asked for our help and support. This ranges from infrastructure development to basic supplies.

One of the simplest yet most successful programs so far has been the gift of provisions for new born babies. These are presented to the mother when she gives birth in the maternity clinic.  This has dramatically influenced the number of healthy births in the village. A gift bag filled with brand new baby clothes, handmade blankets, wraps and knitted or crocheted jackets, bonnets and booties. In Timor Leste  I purchase other available supplies such as soaps and lotions. We even slip in a little something for the Mums and a Days For Girls Post Partum kit. These canvas bags are large, sturdy and reusable. The Friends of Soibada Logo is on the front and on the back, in Tetun, the most common used language of the area, is the message “Welcome to the World with love from your friends on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.” Since the bags were first distributed all births have occurred at the clinic.

The special thing about this is that the women in Soibada are aware of the love and thought the community here puts into making these unique gifts. It also provides a great way to bring people in our community together over craft and coffee! For many years women here have been knitting and crocheting rugs and blankets for the village. It gets cold in the winter months high in the Soibada mountains and it makes my heart leap to drive through the jungle and see a little piece of Pittwater knitting hanging on a tree to dry or wrapped around a baby.

The demand for these items is ongoing, so if you would like to donate some baby clothes or get involved at all please get in touch with me.

An essential thing lacking at the maternity clinic is water. Although there is plenty in the village during the rainy season when the dry hits there is very little. When a woman gives birth her family  must bring water from the river. The clinic is a reasonably new building and the corrugated iron roof clean. In July our volunteers plan to work with local men and install water tanks, guttering and a water purification system in the clinic. There will be a fundraiser in the coming months to help finance this project.

Tamara Sloper-Harding OAM
Email: tamara.harding@bigpond.com
Ph: 0403 226 699
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/Pittwater-Friends-Of-Soibada
Website: www.pittwaterfriendsofsoibada.org.au

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