Latest News

Help save a mother and child with our Chicken and Egg Nutrition Project

Thousands across the remote region of Maucatar in Timor-Leste face extreme hunger and malnutrition


Timor-Leste remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Maucatar is a remote mountainous area where there is chronic malnutrition, high mortality rates, especially high maternal and baby death rates (38.1 of every 1,000 births under the age of five). These communities have little or no access to clean water, sanitation, roads, education or infrastructure.

For the 13,240 people who live across 22 villages here, there are no homes with running water, bathroom or toilet facilities and most villages do not have electricity. Families here live off what they can grow and find in the forest.

It is here Mercy Works partners with the inspiring Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy to provide a maternity clinic to care for, to educate and to conduct outreach work in remote villages.

Of the 226 antenatal mothers seen at Maucatar Maternity Clinic in 2021, 42.9% were severely malnourished and 76% of postnatal mothers were undernourished.

This chronic malnourishment leads to many other diseases, but because of poor nourishment in lactating mothers, the incidence of stunted growth in children is extremely high.

These Sisters SAVE LIVES and have developed a project to improve the nutritional status of mothers and young children by providing extra protein through the distribution of eggs and egg-laying hens in the area.

Here, 40 families were given 2-3 hens. They learn to take care of and be responsible for their hens through training workshops and planning programs. According to the Sisters, by increasing their own home kitchen gardens these families can not only provide a healthier diet but also sell their eggs at the clinic.

“By raising egg-laying hens, families are able to raise their income and live a better quality of life, by developing their own home kitchen gardens.Many of the families have followed the lessons and advice we are teaching and demonstrating,” says Sr Gilbert Pathrose, who leads the initiative.

(Above) Sr Gilbert gives nutrition advice and leads workshops to promote healthy diets high in protein to improve the lives of mothers and their babies in Maucatar

Chickens and eggs are considered one of the main sources of protein in the diet of the people of this mountainous area.

However, it has been difficult for the Sisters and staff to sustain chickens due to the colder weather. There are often predators in the forest areas hence the idea to farm the chickens with families.

“Having a good balanced diet for every member of the family will build a healthy community,” says Sr Gilbert. “Our goal is for every home to have a kitchen garden to cultivate nutritional foods, to help with breast feeding, to ensure mothers are able to have a healthy baby and a safe delivery and to potentially gain an income.

A villager learns to look after hens to lay eggs in Maucatar

Mercy Works NEEDS YOUR HELP to continue this LIFE-SAVING work providing extra protein through the distribution of eggs through the maternity clinic. YOUR HELP will increase egg production as well as the number of egg laying chickens within the subdistrict.

YOUR SUPPORT WILL ALSO provide nutrition to 50 students within a hostel complex managed by the Sisters and staff, as well as to provide life-saving health knowledge to the community where poor sanitation and scarce clean water increases parasites which also leads to malnutrition.
As well as health assessments and follow up outreach care.
Staff at the clinic teach the community about nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet


The Sisters health assessments within the community and outreach include:

  • Supplying a diet with sufficient protein, carbohydrates, and fat
  • Measuring the weight and height MUAC and oedema check every month
  • Assessing for signs of skin, ear, nose and throat infections and pneumonia
  • Assessing for signs of developmental delay
  • Assessing for signs of micronutrient and electrolyte deficiency, as well as signs of vitamin A, Zinc and Iron deficiency.
  • Health education program to demonstrate locally available foods which are highly nutrient and how they can be used in their daily life.

To see the life-saving impact of this wonderful project I urge you to read Leticia’s Story



Thank you,

Sally Bradley RSM 
Executive Director   
Mercy Works

facebook youtube youtube youtube book