07 May 2010

Plant Nursery Supports Bairo Pite Clinic

Based in the Bairo-Pite district of Dili, East Timor, Bairo Pite Clinic is a clinic that has served the local community here since the darkest days of 1999. Since then, the patients treated have changed from casualties of civil unrest to all those with illness that are unable to pay for treatment at the hospital or one of the private clinics scattered around the town.

As Dili changes, and the country develops, the clinic is becoming more involved in community work, running mobile clinics to inaccessible villages and still treating everybody who comes to its door, and now launching an income generation project for people in the Dili area affected by HIV/AIDS.

With the help of a start-up grant from New Zealand Aid, Bairo Pite clinic has started a plant nursery in Comoro with the express aim of creating jobs and incomes for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Across the world, people affected by HIV/AIDS face discrimination and the stigma faced by people in developing nations is significantly increased by a lack of information. The HIV/AIDS program at Bairo Pite Clinic has identified many serious implications for the wellbeing of families resulting from this discrimination. The clinic is committed to changing such attitudes and behaviour and encouraging responsibility and empowerment among those affected by the virus.

There are currently thirty clients engaged with the HIV/AIDS program at Bairo Pite Clinic; with nearly all of these families facing severe financial hardship. In counselling sessions, clients frequently express a lack of hope about the future and the future of their families - their HIV status affects not only their emotional health, but reduces their capacity to engage in employment and find social support.

In collaboration with the clients, the plant nursery was created in October 2009, and since then the staff have been working hard to prepare the first batch of plants for sale. It's been a tough few months for the budding gardeners (budding? Get it?), learning how look after a wide variety of plants and making sure they are in tip-top condition before the new sales team begin to knock on doors around Dili.

In addition to the plants themselves, the project offers a range of additional services to its customers from simple delivery to planting – and if you fancy the look, but don't like the work, then you can even take on a gardener to come and look after your garden on a regular basis.

Fundamental to the ethos of this project is that it will be self-sustaining and provide personal development as well as an income for all those participating. Capacity building is essential to the future economic growth of Timor-Leste, and with the start-up grant from New Zealand Aid, this latest group of entrepreneurs is ready to the tackle the next part of their new business. By learning new skills, everybody involved in the project will benefit – the gardeners, the bookkeeper and the sales team, have all been newly trained, and everybody will be involved in learning to run this new cooperative.

All proceeds from the sale of the plants will be used to support families affected by HIV/AIDS – giving them an income and self-determination, and working with them to break down the stigma attached to the virus.

Plants will be available from June 1st from Bairo Pite clinic, or delivered direct to wherever you want them – just contact Alarico on AlaricoA@yahoo.com.au or bpc@bairopiteclinic.org – but hurry, hot cakes will have nothing on these plants.

Further information about Bairo Pite clinic can be found at www.bairopiteclinic.org, and donations can be made to either the clinic – please mention the Income Generation Project if you would like to direct your donation to this specific cause.

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