It was wonderful to have the opportunity to return to Timor Leste to follow up from the health study conducted in 2009. Whilst I was there two meetings with the weavers were held, in Fuat (with members of both Fuat and Kainliu weaving groups) and Los Palos.
We were privileged to have a Timorese woman, Mana Sita (Elsa) working with us to plan and deliver these meetings and to also assist with strategic planning for the future. The women were so focused during these meetings; those that could read and write were writing down the information we had put up on the wall. Mana Sita was so motivating for the women, and made sure they understood what she had said, asking “Comprende ka lae?” (“Do you understand or not?”)
We reviewed the health study from last year and presented information on the major health issues that were documented in the health study report. These were:
We drew a diagram on butcher’s paper in Tetun and put it up on the wall. Mana Sita referred to the chart frequently and discussed an integrative health model linking all the information together. She related their state of health to their ability to work. The women commented that they had not heard health and work discussed in relation to each other before.
The women discussed the major health issues and came up with two priority issues. For both groups these issues were back pain and vision.
We are hoping that we can link in with services available in East Timor to address these issues and bring in knowledge and research from around the world looking at ways to reduce back pain for weavers. We will continue to work together with the weavers to address these issues.
Libby Maitland – ETWA Health project Coordinator