It takes Eduardo Barreto, 11, an hour to walk the couple of kilometres to school, which is extremely painful as he hobbles without shoes and with one deformed foot. Photograph: Helen Davidson for the Guardian
” Shortness of breath is considered in villages to be a traditional disease healed by, for example, lime or lemon on the chest, or betel nut leaves with lime and spew on the chest.
” From a medical perspective, it’s pneumonia .”
Da Silva says attitudes are changing, as people realise the clinic has mended sick children after traditional medicine did not work.
Timor-Leste has built steps since independence, and is routinely praised for its commitment to human rights and democracy, but its people remain largely poor and struggling.
Serious economic troubles take much of the government’s focus and international aid is an obvious and heavy presence.
In 2013, donors pledged to increase nutrition investment but Australia’s aid was focused on places with higher numbers of undernourished infants, rather than higher rates. A 2015 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report revealed simply 1.5% of Australia’s investment in nutrition was spent in Timor-Leste.
There are multiple compounding factors of poverty to deal with , not least a lack of government assistance.
Amelia Da Cruz, who has lost two of the four children she has given birth to since she was 15, says access to healthcare remains a concern- many people can’t get to hospital and the outreach clinic does not come to her village.
But Da Cruz says the all-female farmers group she results has been transformative for the community.
” I’ve seen many changes after we were taught about nutritious food ,” she says.” I feel it’s not a lot of work because we are united .”
The Guardian traveled to Timor-Leste with World Vision