I am inspired not only by my own personal battle with breast cancer, but also by the women of Timor-Leste who face the same battle with great courage. This is what motivates me to walk 827.5 kms in 32 days, averaging 26.5 kms per day) as a means of raising funds for a small women's cancer support group in Timor-Leste called HALIKU meaning, ‘I choose to get better’. Its aim is to raise awareness in the community of the symptoms and treatment options for women's cancers, including breast cancer. With Fundasaun Alola's help, HALIKU has succeeded in producing a series of simply worded and illustrated brochures aimed at promoting early detection of cancer. Alola's MCH (Maternal and Child Health) team has also participated in training sessions for volunteers who are raising awareness of the causes and prevention of cancer in Dili and a number of districts. The challenges are enormous given the fledgling nature of cancer treatment services inside Timor-Leste and also traditional beliefs surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening illnesses. Alola's vast experience of working with communities to address such problems will be vitally important as HALIKU expands its programs to reach more of the most vulnerable women and their families.
Existing funds for HALIKU enable them to conduct training and awareness raising of breast cancer in five villages in Timor-Leste. However, the budget does not include a planned traineeship for two young health workers from Timor-Leste to travel to an indigenous community in Australia to see how cancer care and education is done in a similar developing world setting. With your support, we can help cover these costs and support the health workers to fulfil vital training.
I shall commence the Camino del Norte, which touches the coastline at many delightful locations across the coast of northern Spain on 31 May 2016.