Meet Maria: Community Birth Attendant in Timor Leste

Posted on July 10, 2017

Maria (right) with Bairo Pite Clinic Women’s Health and Social Care Coordinator, Sidalia

Maria is a Community Birth Attendant on the remote island of Atauro, about 20 miles north of mainland Timor Leste. With torch in hand and a backpack of medical supplies, she braves all weather conditions to help women deliver safely.

Maria provides crucial support for expecting mothers in her community, who are often isolated from health care. Her village is a three-hour drive, or seven-hour walk, from the nearest jetty, over dangerous terrain.

Maria is one of 13 Community Birth Attendants who were selected by their villages to train with our partner, Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili, in maternal and community health.

She now provides family planning information, refers women to the midwife at the medical clinic in her district, and attends homebirths if mothers can’t make it in. She also shares her knowledge of antenatal care and breastfeeding with new mothers, and consults on family health issues such as nutrition and Tuberculosis.

Maria regularly attends refresher courses in Dili. This allows her to restock her aid kit and learn from the midwives at Bairo Pite Clinic and the Australian Catholic University.

“The Community Birth Attendant program has empowered communities teach themselves about health,” said Maria. “We have also reduced our reliance on main health centres for assistance.”