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Oct 3, 2019

Reaching out to remote communities in Myanmar (Burma)

Childhood screening
Childhood screening

Thank you so much for your continued support of our Maternal & Child Health project.

In our last update, we shared with you about the workshops conducted with Area Coordinators earlier in the year. We also mentioned that due to the escalation of conflict in the region, we were unable to conduct the planned training for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) that was due to take place in February.

We can't understate the seriousness of how the conflict has left some of our health workers isolated and vulnerable.  One of them reported to us:

"Around the village there is active fighting.  We're not allowed to travel and there are curfews in place.  We've been unable to harvest the remaining crops due to the fear of landmines.  I tried to visit other health workers near my home, but I was stopped three times and questioned by rebel groups, the army and the police.  They asked me; 'are you a spy?', 'why are you carrying medicines?', 'are you treating the rebels?'.

After being questioned for six hours I had to return home.  I was able to visit only four villages in June and July, since then I was sent back by the army. The internet connection was shutdown, so this is the first time that I am able to share what has happened."

Despite the ongoing challenging situation, our staff team have been able to conduct a number of outreach visits to remote villages, as well as running some mobile clinics in IDP camps where communities have had to flee their homes. Below is an extract from a trip report written by Dr Pahu, one of the project leaders:

It took us 24 days to travel through four areas and 13 villages. In some areas, the travel was so difficult and in some areas we were unable to travel because of the curfews.

We saw more than 700 patients, met with village administrators and Village Health Committees.  We were able to check on the activities of the Community Health Workers (CHWs) and TBAs. We were also able to undertake childhood screening for over 270 children in schools in some villages. The main medical conditions were gastritis, gynaecological problems for women, acute respiratory disorders, suspected anaemia and eye health. 

We were also able to carry out the baseline survey of the communities we are supporting. Together we carried out 96 interviews and also distributed many health education leaflets, helping to explain to the villagers how they can better take care of their own health needs.”

As a result of these outreach visits and surveys, we have also been able to assess the impact of previous years' work. For example, we found that almost 70% of the population assessed now know how to treat a child under 5 who is suffering with diarrhoea, which sadly is still a common cause of death for young children in the region. Simple post-natal practices such as breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth and exclusively breastfeeding up to 5 months, are also being adopted in order to improve the early chances of survival for newborns. 

The quote below is from one CHW, who has seen the direct results from their training:

"My name is Khai and I am from Tlopi village in Chin State.  I was chosen by my village to be trained as a health worker under Health and Hope and at the time I went to the India border to join six months training. Since I have returned home, many things have improved thanks to the health knowledge that was shared.  We have reduced the mortality rate of children under 10, and not one has died from diarrhoea thanks to the way we have been instructed to care for them.  Also, there have been a lot of snake bites in my village, and many people used to die.  However, I learnt some knowledge about managing snake bites from the health training and I shared this with my village.  I am so happy that I have been able to save two people’s lives thanks to the knowledge I learnt from training at Health and Hope.

Sometimes it is very difficult for us in the villages.  It is so remote we have not been able to participate in further training.  So it was an unexpected joy when the doctors from Health and Hope came to visit my village and offer clinics for patients and training. I know that resources are so limited and there are so many villages, but I was amazed and so thankful to them that they came. I really appreciate Health and Hope's love for us and all that they have sacrificed to help us. I pray that they will be able to return regularly to help us."

Although there is still plenty of work to be done, it is encouraging to see the positive impact of our work to date through the training and support of TBAs and CHWs in the region.

As the monsoon rains clear, the team in Lailenpi are starting to plan the next phase of training workshops for local TBAs and Area Co-ordinators who will be involved in bringing maternal and child health care to remote communities across the region. 

We are so grateful for your ongoing support. We currently have a real need to top-up funding for this project to enable two workshops to run over the course of the next six months.  If you are able to support our work financially, please do click below to give via Global Giving.

Thank you again for you interest in our work. Our next update will follow the journey of two midwives from the UK visiting the jungles of Myanmar, conducting training for the local women and also government midwives in the region. 

Mobile clinics
Mobile clinics
Childhood screening
Childhood screening
Inside the IDP camps
Inside the IDP camps
Transporting medicines to remote communities
Transporting medicines to remote communities
Sep 12, 2019

The training centre is now in use!

Launch of Education for All in the Training Centre
Launch of Education for All in the Training Centre

We're delighted that the Training Centre is now in daily use despite there still being a few jobs left both inside and outside to complete the building. 

While the monsoon rains are in full swing, the project teams have been busy launching the new Education for All project, designed to transform the pass rate amongst Year 10 students from 30 rural villages in western Myanmar (Burma). You can read more about Education for All at this link.

Meanwhile, the construction teams are making steady progress with finishing the staffing quarters under the new roof construction.  The redesign provided a further 4,200 square feet of accommodation, allowing for staff and visitors to stay on site. This has provided a safe place away from the strong winds which have threatened to topple the original office building over the last few months. 

Once the rains have stopped, the exterior walls will be rendered and painted to help protect the concrete, make the building fully watertight and give it that finished look.

We've just received confirmation of a generous offer to equip one of the rooms of the building as an IT suite, which will arrive into Lailenpi around the same time as the first mobile data connection is turned on in the village.  This will provide a rich learning environment for the hundreds of people that attend training at the centre every year.

We are still hoping to raise around $15,000 to complete the building, which will support our work across the fields of health, education and food security in western Myanmar.  If you are able to help us reach this target, or would like any further information about the project, please contact our Executive Director on: chris.jones@healthandhope.org

Thank you so much for your support!

Education for All up and running!
Education for All up and running!
Waiting for the monsoon to end!
Waiting for the monsoon to end!
Additional rooms under the new roof design
Additional rooms under the new roof design
Staff quarters
Staff quarters
What the cyclone did two years ago
What the cyclone did two years ago
Sep 12, 2019

Thank you from Miss Ramthangi!

FEP Graduate
FEP Graduate

Mis Ramthangi is a recent graduate who has benefitted from the support of Health and Hope's Feedom to Education Programme. This is her story... 

"My parents had six children, three girls and three boys. We lived in a very small village called Pasaitlah, which is near Lailenpi, in Chin state of Burma. I studied in my village from class 1 to class 8. As there is no high school in my village I had to take my class 9 and 10 in Lailenpi. As we are poor family and my parents cannot send me to a good school, I failed my class 10 in the first year. I was so hopeless when I failed. On top of that I got health problem.

As my health was not good, I could not continue my studies and I dropped out for one year. However, I dearly wanted to continue my school again but that year we faced lots of financial problem, and I had to carry food from my village weekly by foot which is 8-9 hours journey. My parents did have not enough money that year for tuition fees, or for the problem I had with my eyes. It was impossible to get a medical checkup. Later on my eye sight became worse and I could not even see the blackboard.

After struggling for a further three years I was able to pass my class 10. One side is full of happiness and another side sadness followed me because there was no money to continue to study, and as all the universities are located in the city, it takes one week to reach there and lots of money is needed for travel.

The time when I and all my family were hopeless, I heard a very good news from Dr Sasa that he wanted to help those who passed class 10 to take further study in India. I came for an interview and I was selected to be a student of Freedom to Education Project (FEP) run by Health and Hope Myanmar. All of the selected students signed and promised to come back to our country and work for our people. I have a very strong desire to work for my people and with the help of Dr Sasa I continued studying in college in Shillong, India.

After this, I was able to get a job working in a government hospital as a technician in Chin state. Without Health and Hope this would not have been possible. It is only because of the hard work and the effort of my parents and Health and Hope, that my life is beautiful and I am so proud of who I am today."

 

Thank you so much for your support of this project - it really is making such a difference! 

 
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