May 7, 2020

Health & Hope Training Centre almost complete

Training Centre, March 2020
Training Centre, March 2020

Over the last 2.5 years, the community in Lailenpi has been working hard to re-build the buildings that were destroyed by Cyclone Mora in 2017. The training centre is critical to the outworking of Health & Hope's vision of providing facilities for: 

- Training for Community Health Workers (CHWs) who give vital healthcare to people in remote communities;

 - Maternal Health training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), local trainers and government midwives;

- Support for up to 100 students studying full-time in our Education for All project;

- Office space and a logistical base for emergency relief in times of civil unrest and national disasters.

Even over the last few months, the building has been vital for enabling our training programmes, workshops and education projects to continue. As we near the end of the building project, we want to thank every person who has given generously to support our work in this way. With the final funding  having been recently provided by a corporate foundation, we are now entering the last phase of the project: installation of electricity, plumbing and the finishing touches to the offices and classrooms.

In February we were fortunate enough to be supported by SolarLEAP who funded and installed a solar powered computer suite and offline electronic library at the Training Centre. The library will provide an incredible resource for the local community and students.

Of course, the current global crisis is causing much concern for our team and the vulnerable communities in the region. Our website has been updated with the latest news on our response to the COVID-19 crisis: Prevent, Detect, Respond. This currently involves a number of preventative outreach visits being conducted in remote communities. The health team are working alongside Community Health Workers (CHWs) to educate communities on the virus and prevention of transmission, providing PPE and other tools such as thermometers for CHWs, as well as supporting individuals who show symptoms through self-isolation. 

We have received some expert design input on how part of the Training Centre could be converted into a self-contained COVID-19 support unit, should the need arise to respond to patients affected by the virus in the region. It is incredible to have a facility like this available so that we can be ready to respond to critical needs, as and when they develop. Support for this proposal, as well as enabling patient transfers to tertiary care hospitals (over 2 days journey) are dependent on us sourcing additional funding under the ‘Respond’ phase of our strategy.

As we work with the team in Myanmar to develop our plans in response to the current situation, we will endeavour to update you further on this, but in the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any of our other projects, please do get in touch with me via email: philippa.wilford@healthandhope.org.

Thank you again for your continued support and partnership with us in this programme - we look forward to updating you with the final photos of the finished building soon! 

Training of TBAs in the Training Centre
Training of TBAs in the Training Centre
Electronic library installed by SolarLEAP
Electronic library installed by SolarLEAP
Design for COVID-19 support unit
Design for COVID-19 support unit

Links:

May 7, 2020

The privilege of Education

Education for All 2019 students
Education for All 2019 students

Just a few weeks ago, 96 students who have been part of the Education for All project this year completed their final exams. Although we won't receive the results for a few months, dependent on the COVID-19 situation, the students came away feeling positive and hopeful. Education for All has given them a unique opportunity to pursue their dreams. 

One of the students who was part of the programme this year is Esther. She is 18 years old, and one of six children from a small village in Chin State. For the early part of her education, Esther studied in her village with all classes being taught in the local Mara language. However, after Year 8 she needed to move to Secondary school, where all her lessons were conducted in Burmese. “When I got to the school I couldn’t understand. I was learning the language rather than the subjects. I don't know how I managed to pass my Year 9.” 

Esther moved on into Year 10, which is when students sit their main school exams. Even though she had a better understanding of the Burmese language, the syllabus was too demanding: “The school was very good, but I lacked basic education from before, and I just could not pass my exams.”

In 2018, Esther found herself in the same year as two of her younger sisters but unable to pass the Grade 10 exams. “Just before our results came out, a teacher called Peter from Health & Hope visited our village and told us about the Education for All school that helps students who need to repeat their Grade 10 year. I started to hope that, if I did fail my second attempt, maybe I could join the Education for All school.” 

But when the results came, and Esther discovered that she had failed a second time, her father told her that she needed to stop her studies. She was now 17 and the financial burden is often too much for families to continue to support children in school when they could be working or helping on the family farm. 

At that time, wonderfully, one of Esther’s cousins came to visit and said that he would sponsor her to continue her studies through the Education for All project.

“I was so happy, and so thankful to God. Coming to Education for All is a great privilege for me. I am so thankful to Health & Hope for providing me with this life changing opportunity. In the future, I want to be a nurse. In my village, there are no professional nurses to look after people. I have seen many people suffering from illness. There are a few traditional birth attendants but they cannot help patients with serious diseases, and some patients die from common illnesses. If I can pass my matriculation, I would love to be a nurse, and work for my people as much as I can.” 

We recently put together a short video showcasing the Education for All project, which can be viewed on our website

As we eagerly await the results from this years' exams, the education team are already busy making plans for next year. Of course, the present global crisis is causing some concern for the vulnerable communities in the region with schools currently closed in the region.  However, we still expect to start the next years' Education for All project in June. 

During the school break, our teachers are supporting the huge logistical efforts required in our response to the COVID-19 crisis.  You can read more about our work to reach 140 villages across western Myanmar on our website

Thank you again for your continued support and partnership with us in this project - we are truly grateful for every individual who has chosen to give to our work, especially at this challenging time. 

If you have any questions about this or any of our other projects, please do get in touch with me via email: philippa.wilford@healthandhope.org.

Links:

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:

 
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