ConocoPhillips supports the important life-saving work being undertaken by the Alola Foundation. Established by Timor-Leste’s inaugural First Lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the Foundation’s maternal and child health program ‘Everybody Loves Mother and Child’ (Suko Hadomi Inan no Oan), aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality in Timor-Leste by offering educational resources and support for expectant mothers. Women are encouraged to attend antenatal check-ups and deliver their babies at a health clinic, factors that contribute to the wellbeing of mothers and babies.
Maria Imalulada Guterres is a public health nurse working with the Alola Foundation to improve the health of mothers and babies, a program that operates in 109 villages across 11 districts. She is enthused about the improvement she is seeing in the health of infants due to better antenatal awareness among mothers and education about feeding and caring for newborns.
"Feeding practice has really improved. Before (this program), we had identified that mothers or caregivers had poor feeding practices; there was no breastfeeding," Maria says, adding that sugared water was often given to newborns, honey administered to ‘clean the baby’s stomach’ and food was usually introduced too early, at two months of age.
Alola Foundation trains community volunteers and builds community networks to provide pregnancy information and breastfeeding and nutrition advice, and Maria says the delivery of the program is helping to make a difference.
"We select community members as volunteers and train them to identify health-related problems in villages, then we work with them to find solutions," she says. "Before, when women gave birth they had no information. There was a lot of disease and sickness. Now, we feel happy that we can support the women, particularly in the villages, which have the human resources to provide information."
"The children are the future for the country, so by improving the health of the kids, babies and children, the future will be good."