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Jun 13, 2019

Fulfilling a little girl's dream...

Khai Rili
Khai Rili

Khai Rili was born in Lailenpi Town, Chin State, Myanmar. She is the second eldest of five siblings. Her father is a church leader and her mother works in the post office. As a little girl, Khai Rili dreamed of becoming an arhitect, although she didn't know that was it was called at the time. Thanks to your support for the Freedom to Education project, Khai Rili is on her way to fulfilling her dream - this is her story... 

"I went to primary and middle school in Lailenpi. In Myanmar, Grade 9 and 10 are very important as they are considered the gateway to college or university. Due to this, my parent’s worked very hard to support me to undertake my studies at the age of 15, in Hakha, the capital of Chin State. This was because, in terms of school facilities and teachers, the education system in Hakha is of far higher quality than in Lailenpi. I was able to work hard and, because of my parents' support, I passed grade 10 with good marks.

After passing my matriculation exam I was very enthusiastic to continue my study in India, so that I could improve my English. As I am from Lailenpi town, where Health and Hope Myanmar's office is based, I am very familiar with their work,  and seeing the returning students speak very good English, receiving university education, gaining in their confidence and skills whilst remaining humble and with so much love for others, inspired me and made me determined that one day I will also be like them.

However, education costs are so high that we could not afford it. Even though my parent’s are both employed, their salary is very low and with it they have to provide for all the basic needs of the family, as well as to support the education of my other brothers and sisters. Thanks to the support of the Freedom to Education Project (FEP), I was able to study in India and I have now completed Class 12 successfully. This is possible only because of the love, support and prayer from my family, FEP students, the Health and Hope team and many more who have given me the opportunity and inspired me to work hard. Now, my dream is to continue my study in Bachelor of Architecture. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been interested in drawing and designing houses and gardens. I used to try building small house with sticks, but in these days I did not know that engineers or architects existed, it was just a way I enjoyed playing and having fun in my free time. When I was a little older, I saw my grandfather building roads and houses in and around Lailenpi Town. I used to help by serving tea to the workers and carrying lunch to my grandfather during the day. I really enjoyed spending time on the construction site; helping the workers and watching them build the roads and buildings. At that time, when asked what I would like to become, I used to say ‘Engineer!’, but my friends and relatives always told me that engineering is a manly profession and not for girls so I should consider going into a different career, but it never stopped me from knowing what I wanted to become.

As I got older I heard about doctors, nurses, teachers, business men and engineers but I did not know that these professions have so much branches and sub-specialities. I came to know about Architecture only after studying here in India.  I started researching this profession and finding out about the work that they do. Now I know this is exactly what I would love to do and was similar to what I used to play at when I was a little girl! 

No-one from Lailenpi is trained in engineering or Architecture. We build roads and houses without any planning and as a result we sometimes destroy the landscape and natural beauty of our land. My future plan is to help plan the development of villages, towns and cities from the initial stage and onto transforming them into beautiful liveable areas, enhancing the landscape and natural beauty of our land. I want to ensure roads and houses are built which will not be easily destroyed by landslide and earthquakes and to preserve and protect our rivers, streams and forests etc.  My elder brother and four of the other FEP students are also studying civil engineering in India and in China. Together I believe that we will be able to make a huge contribution to the development of our land, state and country."

Thank you for your continued support. It is making such a difference to the lives of young people like Khai Rili!

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

Links:

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

Links:

 
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