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Feb 5, 2019

A wonderful surprise...

Practising a breech delivery
Practising a breech delivery

It was a delight to accompany one of our specialist midwifes from the UK, Frances Barnsely, on her seventh visit to Myanmar (Burma) in December 2018.

We have been running Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) training since 2013 from our base in Lailenpi, nestled in the jungles of western Chin State. As a result, many lives have been saved, with the local under-5 orphanage closing down in March 2018 thanks to the reduction in maternal deaths during childbirth.

With 166 women having received at least two trainings covering basic and advanced topics over the five prior years, there were now geographic challenges in reaching the more remote villages. To put this in context, some of the women had previously walked 5-6 days to participate in the week long training course, and on top of the return journey, it was proving too difficult to ask them to spend up to three weeks away from their families.

As such, at the beginning of 2018, we brought seven of the most experienced women together to take on new roles as local trainers. Each of the trainers were to visit 2-3 remote villages close to their homes to help expand the reach of the service. Key to the success of this new approach was how effective the local women would be at running their own training courses, in addition to whether they would be accepted in their local communities.

With support from the local women's association, the trainers were able to deliver training to 91 new TBAs covering ten core topics. In addition, birthing bags and clean delivery kits were distributed through the network of trainers.

During our visit, Frances undertook a review of the trainers work through visiting villages on the back of a motorbike. After a gruelling ride over rough mountain tracks, she arranged a three day assessment for the women who had received the local training.  In addition, Frances continued to up-skill and update the knowledge and professional practice of the trainers who attend a five day workshop at the Health and Hope clinic.

"I was so surprised how much the local women knew. I had never expected the trainers to be able to deliver so much of the course and so well. There were obviously differences between the villages, however overall, topics such as hand washing and knowledge of diet were excellent. There was still a need to support the women in greater understanding of the mechanisms of birth and they continue to need more practice in emergency drills, but this will come with time.

I think what struck me most was the impact of the training on the women's self-esteem. It was clear how the initiative had raised their status within the village which had a knock on effect on their confidence. Previously they were very insecure, lacking the self-belief that they had the ability to benefit from the training in Lailenpi. However, because they had the opportunity to practice with a local trainer and then meet us in person, they overwhelmingly expressed a deep desire to attend the full training course. The support of their local community is vital for this, and this was confirmed again and again by the village elders.

Overall, there was such excitement and joy in learning together, it was absolutely thrilling to be a part of it!"

We are so grateful for your ongoing support which has made all this work possible. Our next training takes place at the end of February 2019 and we look forward to updating you on the results of this work soon.

Thank you again for partnering with us.

Chris Jones

PS We’ve featured the above maternal and neonatal training in a new video that’s just been released on our website, if you have time, please do take a look: https://healthandhope.org/our-work/video

Empowering local birth attendants
Empowering local birth attendants
Infant resuscitation and bespoke resources
Infant resuscitation and bespoke resources
Practising mouth-to-mouth
Practising mouth-to-mouth
Assessing local teaching
Assessing local teaching
Out in the villages
Out in the villages

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Feb 5, 2019

The first few months...

First teaching sessions
First teaching sessions

It's always exciting, but a bit daunting starting a new project.  This one in particular.  The challenge is huge...  In 2017, only 2% of students passed their Grade 10 exams.  Just eight out of 502 students.  Without gaining a matriculation certificate at Grade 10, students and their families are locked into a cycle of poverty.

Our focus over the first few months of this new education project has been twofold. Firstly to integrate our staff into the existing education system and secondly to undertake an external review of the challenges.

It's been a delight to see staff welcomed into both the government and church school in Lailenpi where our work is based.  Lailenpi is nestled in the mountains overlooking the western border of Myanmar (Burma).  It is extremely remote, with the nearest town at least 10 hours drive over treacherous mountain roads. 

Despite the newly built school building, there are no resources to support learning or books available in the classrooms, other than those passed down from prior students.  Traditional teaching methods are by rote, promoting memorisation rather than enquiry and understanding.  The class sizes are large with up to 50 students and many subjects (including the sciences and maths) are taught in English, despite most teachers having no confidence in the use of the English language.

Our staff are native to Lailenpi, however have at least five years experience studying outside of the country and are fluent in English.  They are currently providing classes in English, Maths, Physics and Biology, working to promote understanding amongst the high school students and those studying to retake their grade 10 exams.
 
We've also been delighted to host Janette, a retired educational consultant from the UK who is currently undertaking a review of teaching methodology and the challenges facing students and parents.  In addition, Janette has been hosting English classes and running teacher training workshops.

As the pilot continues, we’ll be following a process of listening, acting and learning as we try to identify the most appropriate interventions to take the project to scale.

We look forward to updating you on our progress in our next report!

Chris Jones 

PS We've just released our latest video update on our work. If you would like to find out more about Health and Hope, you will find the video at the following link: https://healthandhope.org/our-work/video
Teaching at the church school
Teaching at the church school
The newly built government school
The newly built government school
Educational support from a UK based professional
Educational support from a UK based professional
Teacher training workshop
Teacher training workshop
One on one support
One on one support
Getting the foundations in place
Getting the foundations in place
Teaching training workshop
Teaching training workshop

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Feb 4, 2019

What happens next?

FEP Graduates now working with Health & Hope
FEP Graduates now working with Health & Hope

'What happens next?' is the question on the minds of many of our students who will be graduating in six months time from their degree courses, all made possible because of your support.

Health and Hope students come from mostly illiterate farming families in Chin State, western Myanmar (Burma).  The opportunities that they have had over the last six years to study are, to some, a dream come true.  Only 2-8% of children in the rural areas of Chin State pass their Grade 10 exams.  Less than 1% go on to study at university. For students to be completing degrees as doctors, nurses, engineers and business graduates, there is a definite sense that they are treading an unknown pathway, unsure of what life looks like next.

I was recently in Lailenpi, undertaking monitoring of our work and launching two new projects in health and education.  What struck me powerfully, was that without your support for these students, starting these new projects would simply not have been possible.

The photo above is an example of this. Six of the Health and Hope staff members in the picture graduated from the Freedom to Education Project over the last three years.  Two doctors, one teacher, one accountant in training, and two science graduates - who are both now key leaders in our sustainable agricultural project.

In rural Chin State, there is now a trickle of young educated local leaders returning to serve their communities, determined to make a difference.  It is an incredible achievement, much of it thanks to your support.

This year, three nurses (pictured below) will join the team in Lailenpi after having completed their internship year in Yangon.  They will return to help develop the health programme in the rural villages and contribute to the running of Hope Clinic.  It's an incredible achievement for them, their families and the local community.

We've just released a new video update on our website showing our work in context. We hope that you will enjoy the video seeing some of the faces of the students whom you have supported in action in their new roles. The link to the video is: https://healthandhope.org/our-work/video

Thank you so much for your continuing partnership in the work.

Chris Jones
Nurses in training
Nurses in training
Nurses on internship in Yangon
Nurses on internship in Yangon
Hope Clinic
Hope Clinic
Dr Beichotha serving at Hope Clinic
Dr Beichotha serving at Hope Clinic

Links:

 
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