Shocking statistics reveal the sorry state of mental health in Timor-Leste

A recent survey has revealed disturbing facts about the rate of violence against women and children in Timor-Leste.

In the previous 12 months, an average of 40% of all Timorese women experienced some form of physical violence. The highest was among those living in Liquisa district at 47%, while in Ermera it was 44%. These districts adjoin Klibur Domin.

Among the women experiencing domestic violence, 62% showed symptoms of depression, and many developed Mental Health problems.

In the last year, 75% of boys and 67% of girls reported they had experienced physical violence in schools, leading to poor physical health, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and suicide.

Just 1.3% of Timor-Leste’s tiny GDP is spent on health care - the lowest percentage in the world. The full extent of Mental Health in Timor-Leste has not been identified, but what is obvious is the large number of sufferers without support who wander aimlessly around Dili and other towns and villages without proper accommodation, food, clothing or medication.

Three of the Seven Cottages to be used for Mental Health at Klibur Domin

Three of the Seven Cottages to be used for Mental Health at Klibur Domin

There are only two facilities in the whole of Timor-Leste providing treatment for Mental Health sufferers. These are a 12-bed ward in the Dili Hospital and a 10 bed ward at Laclubar, three hours’ drive from Dili. Both offer treatment for a maximum of three months. After that, the patients are released back on to the streets without access to support or medication.

Ryder-Cheshire Australia has agreed to fund the refurbishment of seven existing cottages at the rear of Klibur Domin to become a 40 bed Mental Health facility.

This facility will take in patients released from the Dili Hospital and the Laclubar facility and care for them until they are well enough to support themselves.

This project will be a whole new role for Klibur Domin and will increase the number of beds to 125.

Klibur Domin Update

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Earlier this year Ryder-Cheshire NZ gave $50,000 to help pay for the construction of a second ward at Klibur Domin to treat Multi Drug Resistant TB patients. Klibur Domin is a Ryder-Cheshire Centre in Timor-Leste. It has the only long-term MDR-TB treatment facility in Timor-Leste and is seen as a key player in getting on top of this major health problem.

This second ward has now been completed. Seven MDR-TB patients are currently being treated there and it is expected that the 10 beds now available at the Centre will soon be occupied.

Also being built at the Centre are a volunteers' cottage, a students' cottage, roadway edges and re-surfacing and landscaping and gardens.

The volunteers' cottage will have 16 beds. It will be able to cater for larger groups such as school and university students.

There are currently nine volunteers at Klibur Domin.

Kim Butler and the John Hunt Outreach Programme


Raphael’s Mobile Outreach Programme is named after John Hunt who was one of our loyal supporters and passionate about the work and vision of Raphael. He left a bequest that helped Raphael initiate this outreach. Its purpose is to work with families raising children with special needs living in remote rural areas of Uttarakhand where services for such children are virtually non-existent.

Volunteer Kim Butler recently joined one of their trips. Here's her account of her experience.

I was incredibly fortunate to travel with two of the Special Educators from Raphael out into the remote Himalayan mountains as part of the John Hunt Outreach Programme. A nearly eight hour drive along very narrow and incredibly winding roads and we reached the district of Uttarkashi to the north of DehraDun.

Uttarkashi is divided into six smaller ‘blocks’. This was the final block in this district to be visited by the team. I couldn’t believe the distances covered to provide training, advice and support around disability.

On arrival, Mini, Ganga and I presented to 215 Anganwadi - woman who look after children up to the age of six in the villages - about disability and how to identify disability in children. Some had walked up to 30 kilometres to be there and were incredibly appreciative of the information and training they received.

I spoke about how to identify learning disabilities in children with the assistance of an interpreter. Our training session was cut a little short as a thunderstorm threatened and many of the woman had a long walk in the rain to return to their villages.  

Early the following morning we were taken by one of the supervisors up into a very remote village where we joined in one of the Anganwadi sessions.What a truly incredible experience to share in traditional village life.

Mid-morning the Anganwadis from around the district returned with children they identified as having delayed development and their parents. We assessed 31 children from eight months old to 14 years through a range of simple activities such as blowing bubbles, sorting blocks by colour and shape and copying simple shapes and patterns. 


The child’s parents and the Anganwadi were also asked many questions about the child and their development. The children presented with a range of disabilities including deafness, cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, to name a few.  It was obvious to me that these children were very much loved and the parents were incredibly grateful that we were taking an interest in their child and offering advice and support. The Anganwadi and the parents were very keen to learn about different strategies to assist the child and were given handouts to support them. Many parents were also issued with a Disability Certificate for their child. This Certificate entitles the parents to receive 1,000 Rupees per month (approximately $21 NZD). This financial assistance will make a huge difference in the lives of these families.

I was impressed with the work of the outreach program and could see the difference it makes to the lives of so many rural children and their families.

It will be vitally important that there is follow up support for these children and ongoing training for the Anganwadi who work closely with the children and their families if the Programme is going to make a difference long term.

To support the John Hunt Outreach Programme, click here ➡


Raphael Chairman Steps Down

Air Marshal BD Jayal has decided to step down from the from the chairmanship of Raphael's Governing Council. He has been a member of the Council since 2001 and Chairman since 2004.

Under his leadership Raphael has continued to fulfill the mission set forth by our founders.  

Lt General RK Nanavatty, member of the Governing Council since 2015 has been elected as the new Chairman. 

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Second Tuberculosis Ward for Klibur Domin

The World Health Organisation has expressed concerns that there is an increase in tuberculosis (TB) being discovered in villages in East Timor.

As the only facility in Timor-Leste providing long-term treatment for TB patients, Klibur Domin will play a major part in tackling this emerging problem.

It has been decided to build a second TB Ward. This project will commence shortly and several large trees on the proposed site have already been removed. 

It is hoped to have the foundations completed to allow a brick layer from Australia to build the walls in October.

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Iris and Barkha

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Barkha grew up in the Little White House at Raphael in India and has always dreamed of being a nurse. Her dreams have been made possible by the generosity of Iris Weld, a sponsor from Christchurch. Iris funds the cost of Barkha’s tertiary fees for her nursing degree.

Iris’ gift to Barkha is life changing and brings to mind the Chinese proverb — “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”