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EAST TIMOR: Salesian-run Medical Clinic Provided Care for More Than 7,300 People in Poverty

(MissionNewswire) The Maria Auxiliadora Medical Clinic located in the town of Venilale, East Timor, has been serving poor residents of Venilale and 13 surrounding villages for many years. In 2014, the clinic cared for more than 7,300 patients in need of health services. Placing special emphasis on caring for mothers and babies, employees of the clinic frequently deliver boxes containing essential baby care products to local families in need. In addition, the clinic provides free community education that focuses on first aid, health issues and family planning.

The most common health issues treated at the clinic include malaria, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, hypertension, malnutrition (especially in children), skin diseases, asthma and urinary and lung disorders. Financial support from the Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund helps to support staff salaries, medications and the cost of vehicle and clinic maintenance. Necessary medical equipment and items such as bandages, gloves, gauze and other medical supplies have been donated to the clinic.

The Maria Auxiliadora Medical Clinic is one of more than 200 medical clinics and hospitals, mostly in rural areas, that handle a wide range of medical care needs and are operated by Salesian missionaries. Leprosy, otherwise known as Hensen’s disease, has been a focus of Salesian-run medical clinics for more than 100 years. Salesian leper hospitals and leprosy control programs can be found in Brazil, Colombia, India, Thailand, Macau and a number of nations in Africa. HIV/AIDS prevention programs are also a vital component of Salesian healthcare initiatives in Africa. In many countries with Salesian programs, additional dental and other necessary health services are offered.

“The health of the young people we serve is very important to us,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The work we do in East Timor and in programs around the globe goes beyond education. We serve the whole person by making sure the basic needs of health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”

East Timor has endured a decades-long civil war and is home to 1.1 million people. According to the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, in 2007, East Timor ranked 162 out of 182 countries for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has just over 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages.

Access to nutrition, education and health services is essential to creating a sustainable society and optimistic future. Salesian missionaries in the country have been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. Since the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the needy, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.

“The Salesians are engaged in a wide range of programs to improve the lives of the people of East Timor,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Poor youth and their families receive support at community health centers, orphanages, parishes and youth centers. In addition, classes are conducted in primary, secondary, technical and agricultural schools – many of which provide room and board to their students.”



Salesian Missions Australia Province Newsletter – Year in Review 2015

World Bank – East Timor