May 24, 2018

Training Centre Rebuilding: May 2018 Update

The training centre is taking shape
The training centre is taking shape

Since our last report in March 2018, significant progress has been made on the building of the new training centre in Lailenpi, western Myanmar.

The local team have been working hard to reach their building target before the monsoon season commences in June, continuing until October. During this period, heavy rains and strong winds will hamper construction so it is important for the first floor to be in place before this time, protecting workers and allowing work to continue inside the ground floor of the building.

Over the past two months, the first-floor concrete slab has been laid and cured and the team are hoping to complete the steel columns and reinforcement work by the end of May. This will allow the building and fitting of windows, door frames and brick walls to continue on the ground floor as these activities can be done inside, below the first-floor slab.

Sufficient building materials have also been ordered and delivered before the end of May as the coming rains will block the roads to the building site in Lailenpi. Due to the remote location of the training centre it takes 2 – 3 days by truck for cement to be delivered and 3 - 4 days for the steel beams to be transported to site. The roads are of poor quality and dangerous, even during fair weather, so this makes it impossible to transport materials to site between June and October.

The Lailenpi community and workers from ten different local villages have been involved in the training centre construction project and their level of determination and growing skills are incredible, given many had little to no experience of building with concrete and steel previously. In addition to the skills they are learning during, the daily wages they receive are also helping families support their childrens' schooling, and purchase food and farming materials.

The new building is vital for the on-going health and education work in western Myanmar, providing both a big meeting hall for the delivery of large-scale training, and smaller classrooms from which to launch new education and food security projects. 

The training hall and classrooms also meet the need for a flexible accommodation space, enabling visiting health workers, traditional birth attendants, students and farmers to be hosted during training sessions.

We are so grateful for the commitment and dedication of the local community, and for your generosity in providing the funding for this essential project.  

The funding needs for this project cover essential materials required to finish the building work and will also enable further visits from the field-engineer to help develop the skills of the local community and ensure due diligence takes place during construction.

Once the construction work is complete, funds will be required to kit out the training centre with furnishings and fixtures, ready for the classrooms and library to be used by visiting students, the local and wider community.  

Thank you so much for your ongoing support,

Michelle

The first floor slab from underneath
The first floor slab from underneath
The training centre taking shape
The training centre taking shape
Shuttering by the local community
Shuttering by the local community
Laying the first floor slab
Laying the first floor slab
May 4, 2018

A great success: Training Traditional Birth Attendants in Myanmar

Overseeing training: Traditional Birth Attendants
Overseeing training: Traditional Birth Attendants

“We have only ever done rote learning in the past, but this training you have given us is so great because we can see, hear and touch.  We can ask any questions we want to. The practical sessions are so helpful because you can really imagine it and practice it with your hands!”  Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) feedback from our recent workshop in western Myanmar. 

Thanks to your generous support we ran our first "Train the Trainer" workshop for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in a rural village in western Chin State, Myanmar at the beginning of April.

Our TBA training programme started in 2013 and has, to date, equipped over 166 local women with the skills to support mothers and babies through pregnancy, birth and early infancy. Our workshops focus on reducing the rate of neonatal and maternal deaths and the incidence of infant and maternal illness. The training has been so successful in one village, that the under-5 orphanage has now closed with no maternal deaths in the last five years!

To reinforce the expansion and sustainability of this training, we  have recently piloted a ‘Train the Trainer’ initiative, equipping our most experienced indigenous health workers with the skills to proactively pass on their midwifery knowledge to new trainees themselves, rather than relying on outside expertise. 

Our first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop was run by three UK midwives during Easter, two of whom have made six prior trips to the region, having also supported the development of a bespoke training course for local women.

Following the six-day workshop, the new TBA trainers headed out to practice their skills in rural villages by training small groups of women across the region following a three-day curriculum. It was anticipated that they would each train up to four new TBAs. However, in the first village, sixteen women joined the training and in the second nineteen took part, so eager were they to participate and improve their knowledge.

"In Zo Ma village, sixteen women attended the training even though they only invited five! During the time in the village, there was one woman who could not do any work and was lying in a flat position throughout her pregnancy.  When the TBA Trainer arrived she was able to help reposition the baby and the woman has been able to stand and start work again.  At the end of the training she came to give us a chicken to say thank you!

Another woman was told by a villager that she had cancer in her bladder because they did not know she was pregnant. The TBA Trainers examined her and found out she was four months pregnant!  She was so delighted she praised God and was so thankful to the TBAs.

The women were so excited that other villages were calling to them saying, please come to our village, we will send a motorbike to pick you up.

In each village they went to, there was always more women than invited.  They asked for help with vitamins and better nutrition.  They also said the time was too short being just three days and the villagers were not satisfied and wanted more!" Extract from our Programme Officer's report, April 26th 2018

The trainers and trainees had another surprise too. While conducting the training they were able to use their skills during a real birth, with mother and baby well looked after by all. The perfect training opportunity!

Our UK midwives will return to Chin State at the end of 2018 to review progress and receive feedback. They will also assess the extent of the knowledge passed on to the new TBAs through practical and theoretical appraisal and deliver additional training during their time there.

We're delighted with the impact of this project and it's all down to your support.  It couldn't have happened with your financial backing.  Thank you so much for partnering with us to bring health and hope to mothers and babies in western Myanmar!

We have, however, spent all of the funds raised over the last year and are now looking to secure further funding to enable the project to continue after the monsoon.

Can you help?  If so, please do share the link to our project page to enable this vital work to continue and if you are able, please do consider donating again.  

Thank you once again, 
Michelle

Providing expert guidance and advice
Providing expert guidance and advice
TBA Trainers training local women
TBA Trainers training local women
TBA Trainers using visual aids
TBA Trainers using visual aids
Equipping indigenous leadership
Equipping indigenous leadership
Out in the villages
Out in the villages
Trained TBAs in action!
Trained TBAs in action!
Local women arriving for training
Local women arriving for training

Links:

Mar 1, 2018

Freedom to Education: Meipaw's Story

Meipaw - FEP medical student
Meipaw - FEP medical student

Meipaw is one of 47 young Burmese men and women currently completing higher education thanks to Health and Hope's Freedom to Education (FEP) programme. He is 22 years old and comes from Chin State, Burma (Myanmar).

Growing up, Meipaw and his friends faced many challenges in their attempts to access education, including natural disasters; food insecurity; teaching in non-ethnic languages and a lack of qualified teachers.

These challenges, combined with the highest levels of household poverty (73%) in Burma, mean that, by the age of eleven, 18% of Chin children have already dropped out of school and, even among those who stay on, only 8% manage to pass their grade 10 exams in rural areas, where poverty is greatest. 

Despite these difficulties, Meipaw was determined to train as a doctor, spurred on by the lack of medical care and facilities in his community that had led to the unnecessary death of his grandmother from easily treatable diarrhoea.

Meipaw worked hard at school and passed his grade 10 exams, but unfortunately his parents just weren't able to afford to send him to college. On average, a family in Chin State can only afford $40 per month to support their children through education, however it costs $250 per month to study at university and $500 per month in medical college, pushing university education out of reach for most rural families.

Fortunately for Meipaw, Health & Hope were able to help. Our Freedom to Education Project (FEP)  provided financial and peer support for Meipaw.  After completing an internship he was able to attend college in India and, following the successful completion of his grade 12 exams, was able to secure a scholarship with Prospect Burma to study medicine in China. 

On his first visit back home in four years, Meipaw sat down with us to tell his story. The interview is shown here on YouTube.

The impact of our education project is much wider than the individual stories of our students. Health and Hope believes that education is crucial in building long-term sustainable development in Myanmar, raising levels of social awareness, critical thinking and preparing future leaders to be catalysts of a fair and equitable society. 

Our first four FEP graduates returned home in 2017 and many more will follow over the coming years. Their desire is to use what they have learnt to support the next generation of young people in their home communities. 

We are harnessing this passion to launch a new education project in 2018. Later this year, our returning graduates will provide teaching and mentoring to younger students in Chin State and will also begin the task of translating textbooks into local languages, making it possible for young people to read and learn the necessary material to pass their own exams.

Since we launched our FEP programme, we have offered 85 students the opportunity to pursue higher education.  Through our new project we hope to provide many more with the gift of education, preparing them to take an active part in the social and economic transformation of their home communities.

Meipaw is grateful for your support, and so are the many other students that we are partnering with through your support to this project.

Thank you

2017 FEP Graduates returning home
2017 FEP Graduates returning home

Links:

 
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