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Dec 30, 2019

Graduate nurses from local villages join Health & Hope team!

FEP student nurses graduating
FEP student nurses graduating

It all started seven years ago. A dream to see young women from rural Chin State have the opportunity to train as nurses and then come back to serve their community.  Thanks to the financial commitment of long-term supporters, this dream has become a reality. 

In the summer of 2019, three young women who have been supported by the Freedom to Education project graduated from university after completing their nursing degrees. Their training included:
- a one year internship with Health & Hope
- completing their year 11-12 secondary education in India
- an undergraduate degree in India
- a year internship in hospitals in Yangon

Following their graduation ceremony the nurses received a week's training from our partner Birthlink, took part in supervised outreach work in rural villages and received two months of training in maternal health and emergency neonatal care.

The nurses will now support the delivery of the Maternal and Neonatal programme, in addition to working in Hope Clinic and responding to emergencies through a newly established mobile medical service for remote villages.

Last month, two volunteer midwives travelled from the UK to run training workshops and mother & baby clinics in Lailenpi. The midwives wrote this summary about the nurses in their trip report: 

"One extremely valuable outcome of working with the Nurse Team throughout the week was their own development in midwifery knowledge. By working continuously alongside us in the clinics and during training, their knowledge increased substantially. On several occasions the nurses reported how their knowledge of antenatal, intrapartum and post-natal care had increased by hearing it from us in English, translating it into Mara, facilitating the questions and explanations and practising enthusiastically alongside all the trainees. Confidence and language skills increased and they thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the training.  They became competent in all the skills and fostered a positive, interactive learning environment. They grew in confidence in their organisational and teamworking skills throughout the time. When a problem arose, they were quick to admit it and efficient in finding solutions. They were very committed to the smooth running of the course and worked long hours to achieve this. We felt that positive and lasting relationships were built between us all and that very good teamworking was achieved."

It's wonderful to see the real impact that has resulted from the Freedom to Education project in just a few months after graduation, with the nurses full of hope, passion and knowledge returning home to serve in their communities. 

Your support is not only changing the lives of the individual students, but also having a wider-reaching impact on local communities through providing the skills and expertise needed to reach out and sustain our work amongst the most vulnerable in western Myanmar. 

Internship at a hospital in Yangon
Internship at a hospital in Yangon
Participating in mother & baby clinic
Participating in mother & baby clinic
Receiving neonatal training from UK midwives
Receiving neonatal training from UK midwives
Practical breastfeeding training
Practical breastfeeding training
Care of the newborn training
Care of the newborn training
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
 
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