Meet the MSI reproductive health and rights stars from Timor-Leste

We were thrilled to learn that two Asia Pacific staff members have been recognised by the global MSI network as ‘MSI Stars’ — an acknowledgement of the brilliant work they do to reach women and girls who may otherwise lack access to essential healthcare.


Congratulations to Cesaltino and Deonito from MSI Timor-Leste!  

Two photos of MSI Timor-Leste staff. On the left, Cesaltino has his arm outstretched with a thumb up. To the right, Deonito is smiling. The men wear blue MSI shirts.

"I have been given a chance to help educate vulnerable people on sexual and reproductive health and rights, family planning, gender, diversity and more."

Local dedication = big impact

As a mission-driven organisation  working in challenging contexts, MSI couldn’t function effectively without a global team of skilled and resilient staff who work with integrity. Much of this work occurs in low-resource contexts, where staff must work creatively to find solutions to operational and social challenges. 


MSI Asia Pacific Executive Officer Merewyn Foran reflects, 

“We don’t take it for granted that our impact is only possible with the dedication of staff like Deonito and Cesaltino. Hearing about how they collaborate, problem-solve and work flexibly is inspiring to those of us in leadership roles.

It reminds us that there are thousands of MSI staff across the region and globally who do this essential work with commitment and without fanfare. This makes a world of difference to the people we serve.” 

Cesaltino Freitas Marques – Driver and General Assistant (pictured left)

Outreach is an essential component of MSI’s work, as it allows us to reach more people who would otherwise lack access to essential healthcare. To do this work, we rely on a team of skilled and resilient staff. As Driver and General Assistant, Cesaltino plays an important role across a wide variety of MSI’s work in Timor-Leste. 


In an average day, Cesaltino might organise and report on supplies, do vehicle maintenance or drive for hours to reach remote communities. During the pandemic, he also supported the delivery of training on Infection Prevention to government health workers, enabling MSI to support the country’s COVID-19 response.


Cesaltino’s work covers a wide geographic area, meaning trips can often be tiring and have challenging terrain. He handles this work with professionalism, including planning ahead to find solutions to emerging issues.

For example, when an event unexpectedly ran past travel time restrictions, Cesaltino organised overnight accommodation for the team, ensuring everyone would be safe. These kinds of problem-solving abilities are critical to MSI’s work.


Cesaltino also utilises his skills as a Demand Generator and Educator to share information related to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the community – a role essential to awareness-raising in Timor-Leste.

Deonito Maia Soares – Demand Generator and Educator (pictured right)

Deonito’s colleagues say his dedication to achieving results and fostering teamwork is commendable. He is known for his adaptability and innovative thinking. 

Deonito has played a pivotal role in helping the team establish new outreach sites in remote areas, ensuring even more women and girls can access essential healthcareAs a Demand Generator and Educator, he also conducts educational sessions and advocacy within communities, ensuring more people are aware of sexual and reproductive health issues and rights.  

Despite daily challenges, such as navigating through climate changes, poor road conditions, and extreme terrain while traveling on his motorbike, his unwavering passion for serving his community remains evident 

Deonito’s became interested in working for MSI after seeing the impacts of unintended and teenage pregnancies in remote areas, including on young people’s education and economic security.  

This made me passionate about working with MSI Timor-Leste. I have been given a chance to help educate vulnerable people on sexual and reproductive health and rights, family planning, gender, diversity and more.” 

Deonito has also enjoyed the opportunity to build partnerships with other organisations.

“Through these partnerships, we’ve been able to leverage resources and implement activities that have a positive impact on rural communities.”

Congratulations, Deonito!