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Malnutrition in East Timor Calls for Action

The Australian owners of a restaurant in East Timor are hoping to use their passion for the local cuisine to combat malnutrition in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

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Malnutrition need an end

The Australian owners of a restaurant in East Timor are hoping to use their passion for the local cuisine to combat malnutrition in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

East Timor has Asia’s worst rates of child malnutrition, with more than 50 percent of children suffering from stunting – a condition that permanently affects their mental and physical development – according to the United Nations.

But this is not primarily due to a shortage of food – instead, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF blames a lack of education and knowledge about local foods.

Development worker turned restaurateur Mark Notaras said traditional dishes like batar da’an – a kind of corn stew served at his Agora Food Studio restaurant in the capital Dili – were looked down on as “poor people’s food.”

“If you came to visit Timor, you could eat at 150 restaurants and never find it on a menu,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Representational image showing a malnutrition ridden child.

Notaras and his wife, Alva Lim, launched the non-profit Timor-Leste Food Innovators Exchange (TLFIX) last year to educate people across the country about cooking with healthy and local ingredients.

They hope to persuade them to supplement diets of white rice and instant noodles – which provide cheap calories but little nutrition – with the indigenous plants that grow there.

“We encourage people to eat a wider array of foods they already have around them in order to improve their nutrition,” said Notaras.

UNICEF already trains mothers in East Timor to provide more nutritious meals, showing them how to incorporate locally grown carrots and leafy greens into the rice that children are traditionally fed.

Lim and Notaras take a more innovative approach. (VOA)

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Sonakshi Joins Forces With UNESCO To Promote Safe Cyber Environment

Children are easy targets for cyber bullying, online sexual abuse and exploitation

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Sonakshi Joins Forces With UNESCO To Promote Safe Cyber Environment
Sonakshi Joins Forces With UNESCO To Promote Safe Cyber Environment. Flickr

Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha has joined forces with Unesco to promote a safe and secure cyber environment for youngsters to ensure they are not targeted for bullying, abuse, exploitation and more through the internet.

A post on the official Twitter handle of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s New Delhi cluster office read on Thursday: “Sonakshi Sinha joins Unesco to promote safe and secure online environment for children and help empower our future digital citizens.”

Sonakshi retweeted it, and shared a video captioned: “I stand for protection of children.”

In the video, she says: “Internet use in India is exploding and mobile access has really changed the game. But what does that mean for a country with the world’s largest child’s population? Is cyberspace safe for the children who are under 18? All 470 million of them? Do our girls get to lead their internet life with dignity. The truth is that the risks they are facing are shocking.

“Children are easy targets for cyber bullying, online sexual abuse and exploitation, enticement to illegal behaviour and many more such horrific things. It is also true that internet and social media play a huge part in influencing the truth today. I am truly concerned, and as an active citizen, I would like to make sure that our boys and girls are protected both online and offline.”

Unicef congratulated the "Dabangg" actress for being a champion of child rights
Unicef congratulated the “Dabangg” actress for being a champion of child rights. flickr

Stressing on the importance of education on the safe use of online spaces, the actress said it will equip boys and girls to be prepared to report any type of abuse or exploitation.

“This is something that has been highlighted by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which I fully and truly support. That’s why I am joining forces with Unesco to help find cyber threats to children. I would also urge you to partner with Unesco and other agencies to help promote child safety online and help empower our future digital citizens.

“Let’s come together to help build a safer cyber space for and with our children.”

Also read: Sonakshi Sinha: Its Important to Rise Above Looks

Unicef congratulated the “Dabangg” actress for being a champion of child rights. (IANS)