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Jan 9, 2020

Training centre progress report

Final coats of paint on the new Training Centre
Final coats of paint on the new Training Centre

Building a two story 100'x60' Training Centre in one of the most geographicly remote places of Myanmar comes with it's fair share of challenges.

I was reminded of that during my latest visit, with it taking us four days just to travel to and from the project site in the remote mountains of Chin State. When you're also having to transport building materials, it can be a bit frustrating if you forget that essential item of equipment and it's a 12 hour journey (or longer) just to get to the nearest DIY store.

We started constructing the Training Centre in January 2018. When we set out, we determined that everything would be done through the hands of the local townspeople. Where they had experience, we would build upon it.  Where they didn't have the skills we would provide training. 

I kept reminding myself of that as I looked around the project, a year after I'd visited previously. Unlike another building in the area that used contractors from the city, the Training Centre stands as a testimony to what can be achieved through the efforts of local craftsmen, some of whom have learnt a trade through the building process, and are equipped to use that in the future.

Despite being incomplete, the Training Centre has already seen a year's worth of use. The first rooms hosted training for local villagers before the building even had a roof, as we launched a new phase of health training for Community Health Workers in December 2018. In June 2019, just as the roof was being fitted and the monsoon rains begain, 96 students moved into the building as part of the new Education for All project where they will be studying until March. In December we've run further training on maternal and neonatal care for Area Health Coordinators and will be running additional workshops in March.

Whilst we raise funding for a separate dormitory, the first floor of the training hall has been turned into an accommodation block for the students and the second floor is in the final stages of being converted into office space and accommodation for local staff.

What I like about the building is that it isn't perfect. The ceiling tiles don't quite line up with the walls. The concrete render isn't quite as smooth as you would want it to be.There were even a few patches of mould that needed cleaning off where the monsoon rains had wet the concrete prior to the external render being finished. The reason I like this, is because every imperfection in the building, which will last for generations, spoke volumes about the hands that had created it and the lessons that had been learnt in the process.

Lessons about how to make concrete, how to tie reinforcement bars, what grade of steel to use, how to cut roofing bars, how to plumb in drainage, how to put up a hanging ceiling, how to make a staircase. Alongside the practical lessons were thousands of hours spent in relationship with local villagers working hand-in-hand on a project that they initially said was impossible to build!  

We raised the roof last year to squeeze in an additional floor at the top of the Training Centre so that we could both make the best use of the space and start the education project as soon as possible. As a result, we're a little over budget (7.5%).  We have a building engineer finishing his calculations, but we're estimating it will take another $25,000 to complete the electrics, internal render of the main training hall, provide furniture for the offices and put down proper flooring.  If this is a project that you are able to support, or can recommend to someone you know, please do let us know (email Chris at: info@healthandhope.org).  

If we can, we'd like to complete the work before May so that local staff can move out of an 8-year old timber building unlikely to make it through another monsoon.

Thank you so much for your support. 
Chris

PS Do check out our latest news page for a short video of the Education for All project. It's a fantastic example of how the Training Centre is being put to use.

Education project hosted in the Training Centre
Education project hosted in the Training Centre
Classrooms in the Training Centre
Classrooms in the Training Centre
Ongoing work on the second floor
Ongoing work on the second floor
Community Health Worker Training
Community Health Worker Training
Students hosted at the Training Centre
Students hosted at the Training Centre
The Training Centre - a community effort
The Training Centre - a community effort
The Training Centre - where it all started
The Training Centre - where it all started

Links:

Dec 31, 2019

Training the education team

Janette conducting a biology training session
Janette conducting a biology training session

A few weeks ago, Janette, a long-term friend of Health & Hope, travelled from the UK to spend a month with the education team in Lailenpi. Janette is a retired a Head Teacher and has a wealth of teaching experience which she has been using over the last 12 months to support the launch of the Education for All project.   The project is supporting just over 100 students from 30 remote villages who have failed one or more of their grade 10 exams earlier in 2019.

Janette's first visit to Lailenpi took place in January, where she was planning to spend 3 months to support the establishment of the Education for All project. Unfortuantely, due to escalating violence in the region, her trip was cut short.  Janette continued to support the education team remotely over the following months, sending through resources, helping with lesson planning and the assessment of the students. She was then able to return for a month at the end of 2019. 

Alongside running workshops with the staff team on specific subject areas, such as Biology and English, Janette also conducted training sessions in different teaching practices, learning styles and classroom management. She also took some time to interview some of the students to get their feedback from the project so far. 

Feedback from the students on the first 6 months of the project was very positive, with many of them commenting on how they appreciated the classroom environment and that the teachers were patient with them. One student said: "I like the teachers, they are fun but kind. We are not beaten. I have never encountered a school like this!" 

When asked why they decided to take part in the Education for All project one student said their parents were sick and could not support them, so they needed to complete their education in order to work and look after their family. Another student said that if they passed their Class 10 exam they will be able to be a good role model and give hope to others.  For most, the project provides a unique opportunity to learn English and have a second chance at passing their grade 10 exams. 

However, for all the students, the clock is ticking.  The Myanmar government are introducing a new curriculum into grade 9 this year which only gives these students two years to pass their exams.  Forced to take five subjects in English, 80% of students in Chin State failed their exams in 2019, and while there are positive changes ahead in the new syllabus, thousands will be left behind, locked out of an educational system that has failed them. 

We're hoping to make a significant improvement in the pass-rate of students in the Education for All project this year, but we'll need your continued support to invest in the school and help as many students as possible.

We look forward to reporting back to you again in March 2020 when the students will be getting ready to take their Class 10 exams. Thank you for your ongoing help and financial commitment.

Janette and the Education for All team
Janette and the Education for All team
Teachers and students in the new training centre
Teachers and students in the new training centre
Teaching students
Teaching students
Students enjoying lessons at the new school
Students enjoying lessons at the new school
Dec 31, 2019

Volunteer's trip report

Local trainers receiving materials for outreach
Local trainers receiving materials for outreach

At the beginning of November, two volunter midwives made the four-day journey from the UK to Laillenpi in Chin state, Myanmar. This is the 8th visit to the township, where training and practical support has been provided to Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and other community healthcare workers with the aim of improving maternal and child health outcomes in the rural communities. 

Since the start of this project over 180 TBAs have been trained.  In 2017 the project was expanded to provide Training of Trainers to local women, who then provide training to TBAs in more remote villages. An additional development of this trip, was the opportunity to provide support to three nurses who have recently graduated through the support of Health & Hope's Freedom to Education Project (FEP) as well as provide training and support to local government midwives. 

Due to ongoing conflict in the region, it wasn't possible for the volunteers to travel to more remote villages as planned. Instead, two days of clinics were arranged in the town, where almost 150 mothers & babies were seen and treated!  Following this, the UK midwives conducted a week-long workshop with 36 TBAs, 5 government midwives and 2 trained nutritionalists, who were keen to receive training so that they can deliver health advice for pregnant women and new mothers. 

As always, it was wonderful to receive feedback from the TBAs who have been able to put the training they've had over the years into practice. One TBA revealed how she had delivered a breeched baby 12 years ago and the baby had died because she did not know what to do. Since coming to the training, she has been able to get over her fears and recently deliver a breech baby successfully. She said:"I knew what to do because of the training I had received, and the mother and baby are well. It was the best day of my life!"

As part of the project, the team distributed birth bags, which contain essential equipment and clean birth kits, as well as training and distribution of basic medicines. The result of this continued work has been a clear improvement in conditions, skills and expertise provided by the TBAs. The assessment at the end of the training week showed that the TBAs have grasped a good understanding in critical practices such as handwashing & hygiene, initial assessment of the mother, manoeuvres of breeched births, and immediate post-natal care of the newborn, including skin-to-skin contact and first breastfeed. As well as these basic concepts, the TBAs also now have a good understanding of how to deal with complications and emergencies in delivery such as  bleeding. 

This visit also created an opportunity for the three graduate nurses to gain further training and experience in maternal and neonatal health. The nurses, who are now part of the Health & Hope Myanmar team in Lailenpi, were translating during the clinics and training sessions, giving them the chance to deepen their knowledge and grow in confidence. As a result, Hope Clinic, based in Lailenpi, and our other health projects, will now benefit from the enhanced skills and experience of these trained staff. 

All of this is thanks to your generosity and continued support. We are so grateful for your partnership and look forward to updating you on the progress of this project again soon. 

Breastfeeding training for Health & Hope nurses
Breastfeeding training for Health & Hope nurses
TBA Training Group Photo
TBA Training Group Photo
Training of local trainers
Training of local trainers
Suturing training
Suturing training
 
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