Reflecting on the Alola Foundation's 14 years mission in the areas of increasing the status of maternal and child health, providing opportunities and improving the quality of education, strengthening the economy of women in rural areas and strengthening women's leadership and decision making in each year shows that improvements been achieved for women in each of these years, just as we have reported, and many of the improvements for women have been a direct outcome of the Foundation's work.
But this is not enough, so this year we reaffirmed our priorities through developing a strategic plan for 2015-2019. The plan continues to direct our efforts in the areas of education, health, advocacy and economic empowerment as these remain a concern for women and children in this time. In the strategic plan, we also identified that education about cancer is needed, especially the types of cancer that endanger women's lives.
To improve the capacity of the organization, we established child protection policies and reviewed our accounting manual so that we can work more effectively. Apart from this, we strengthened the capacity of our staff to be more professional in delivering services and we strengthened team work as a priority in 2015.
To progress this priority, myself and the program managers, together with some of the coordinators, attended a course called Leadership Training for Women that was held in Bali. Other staff attended training in areas relevant to their work, including Infant Young Child Feeding training and mobile library and teacher training in Bendigo, Australia and Jogyakarta, Indonesia.
An interesting opportunity for me arose in representing the Timor-Leste Child Rights Coalition who had confidence in me to present the 2nd and 3rd alternative periodical report on the Child Rights Convention to the Child Rights Commission of the United Nations in Geneva. Besides this, with support from Alola Australia, I had the opportunity to create and reinforce networks with organizations with missions relevant to Alola and to visit the Geelong City friendship group who in recent years have provided support for the establishment of Mother Support Groups in Viqueque.
This year the Alola Foundation team succeeded in producing and delivering a specific report about early pregnancy for young women linked with the re-entry to school policy to the United Nations Commission concerned with CEDAW matters. The aim was to recommend to the Government to prioritize and address impediments to children's and young women's development and futures. Apart from this, we advocated with our partners at the national level through tendering submissions on the draft law on human trafficking, re-entry to school policies, village elections laws and contributed to civil society's CEDAW report on human trafficking, health and education.
Our community development program aims to reduce maternal and child morality. This year our community development program graduated four of our Villages Love Mothers and Babies (Suku Hadomi Inan no Oan) groups. The main reason was that these groups were well prepared to be independent and had the capacity, skills and ability to act independently in taking responsibility for maternal and child health problems in their own communities. The groups were handed over to the village councils so that health programs for mothers and children would be prioritized in their villages.
Within best practice, the Alola Foundation has been entrusted to establish 30 additional Mother Support Groups (MSG) in 2016 in Dili and Oekusse aiming to promote the principles of nutritional education. In 2015, the project had carried out the socialization phase in all villages with the key aim to introduce the project to the communities and to strengthen collaboration between partners including the village leaders and the Ministry of Health (MoH).
This year, the Birth Preparedness Plan project expanded to the 6 villages in Oekusse that were remaining from 2014. The data showed that from 1086 women who were pregnant within 18 villages, 632 mothers delivered their babies in a health facility, 19% of mothers delivered in health facilities, 51% mothers delivered at home attended by skilled birth attendants and 30% of these deliveries were with a traditional birth attendant. The basic reason pregnant mothers did not deliver in a health post was because health posts had no beds that could be used. Despite this, the numbers show a good result and indicate that pregnant women understand better that safe deliveries require assistance from health personnel.
The Alola Foundation has partnerships with the Ministry of Education. This year we supported the goals of the Ministry of Education to promote early education for children in isolated rural areas and we will continue until the year 2030. We started implementing an Alternative Pre-School model which involves setting up preschools based in the home and in centres in the municipalities of Viqueque and Ermera by working with local organizations, IMI and KDP. The main objective of this project is to emphasise the importance of education for children which is inclusive and well developed. In regard to providing effective support for teachers in elementary schools, we improved the mechanism of teacher training through direct mentoring in the classroom for teachers who previously attended Alola's teacher training.
In regard to women's economic participation and empowerment, in 2015 the Economic Empowerment Program continued to focus on two areas. These areas are developing artisans and livelihood programs including micro credit and agricultural development and programs that contribute to cooperative groups.
Our mission will only be successful when we find that women are free from violence in their family and in society, a mother can deliver a healthy child safely, a family can live free of violence, a young woman can graduate from her studies and can take on leadership and be a guide to other young people.
This year, at the time that we deliver the Alola Foundation's Annual Report to the staff members and the Director, we will also say welcome to the HALIKU program (a support group for women living with cancer) as this will be integrated into our Maternal and Child Health Program.
From the perspective of the delivery of our programs and the budget, the Alola Foundation continues to show its leadership and quality. We have much support so we have confidence that we can continue to work to promote the rights of women and children to have a better life because you are here with us.
My appreciation and gratitude to the donors, working partners, the Board for the period of 2014 and 2015, managers, all employees, the Alola Foundation's friends and all who have supported us directly and indirectly during the period.
Thank you very much for your cooperation with us, for your support and friendship.
"STRONG WOMEN STRONG NATION"
CEO Fundasaun Alola