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Dec 4, 2017

Serving sacrificially in western Myanmar

CHWs serving villagers in Rakhine State
CHWs serving villagers in Rakhine State

Our Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) offer life-saving medical treatment and education to thousands of rural villagers throughout Chin and Rakhine State. To do this, they travel many miles in boats, on motorbikes and on foot through jungle terrain. In western Myanmar, the monsoon season lasts from May to October each year, with heavy rains and strong winds making these journeys even more perilous. Yet despite the dangers, our team are committed to reaching those in need.

One of our health workers, Soe, faced many difficulties while conducting medical visits. He wrote, “Due to road difficulties, I was not able to reach the more distant villages. I had to stop in one village for one week because there was no way to travel out, the river was flooded and we could not cross”.  

And the flooding was not the only challenge Soe faced carrying out his Health & Hope duties, “On my way back from collecting data, I and my fellow worker became ill and had to be hospitalised for a few days before continuing on our journey back to the training centre in Sittwe.” 

Nowhere is the support offered by our health workers more vital than in situations like those found by Khai in the Pingyawa refugee camp. “The refugees I spoke to had been forced from their villages due to fighting,” he reported. “They now have no homes to return to, and their condition is so terrible. There is no toilet, proper housing, no place to stay, no water to drink and no school for their children.” Khai found three of our health workers living in the refugee camp, doing what they could to bring health and hope to the villagers there faced with such dire circumstances. 

Due to the dangers associated with travelling during the monsoon season, Health and Hope schedule the majority of our operational work to take place between November and April. 

One new training course that we are particularly excited about over the coming year, is a 'Train the Trainer' project, that will expand our maternal and child health programme to our most experienced indigenous health workers.  Equipped with leadership skills and training, they will be able to proactively pass on their knowledge to new TBAs who are unable to travel to our training centre in Lailenpi. 

The new trainers will also be taught how to support and monitor the work of our growing team of TBAs, allowing us to record our impact in a more effective way. By facilitating this peer-to-peer knowledge transfer, and improving our evaluation processes we hope the knowledge which is passed on will provide long-term impact to future generations.

If sufficient funds are raised, we will run our Train the Trainer programme from March 2018 to March 2019 as a one year pilot. Following the pilot we hope to recruit and train more indigenous trainers over the coming years.

Finally, if you haven't already seen, we've recently released our latest Annual Report. This is available to download on our website if you would like to read more about our work over the past year.

We are so grateful for your partnership in bringing health and hope to rural villagers in western Myanmar.

Thank you!

Community clinics and health education work
Community clinics and health education work
Treacherous travel conditions faced by our CHWs
Treacherous travel conditions faced by our CHWs
Training Traditional Birth Attendants
Training Traditional Birth Attendants

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Dec 4, 2017

Health and Hope Training Centre: Final plans approved!

Architectural design for new Training Centre
Architectural design for new Training Centre

We're delighted that we've made signficant progress with the redesign of the training centre over the last few months.

In September 2017, Health and Hope UK contracted the services of eMI-World, a leading network of specialist design professionals to provide architectural design and structural engineering support for the rebuilding project.  The team, based in Delhi, have extensive experience in designing buildings in resource poor, mountainous areas, including in the earthquake prone regions of Nepal.

While the site clearance was underway in Lailenpi , western Myanmar, eMI-World set to work developing the architectural designs, foundation plans and structural engineering drawings.  The draft plans were submitted to the team in Lailenpi who appointed a government approved engineer to draw up the detailed costs.  

After numerous drafts and a redesign of the building to match the anticipated budget, we are delighted with the final design which will incorporate a multi-function training facility, dormitories and training hall into one building. 

As funds are acquired for the building of a separate dormitory, the ground floor of the training hall will eventually transition into further classrooms, with internal walls able to be removed to create a larger multi-purpose area if required. 

Roads to Lailenpi have only just been reopened after the monsoon rains and December is a key time for the team to transport materials to the remote town. Following this, eMI-World will be sending a field engineer to support local labourers with engineering expertise, also providing training and overseeing building quality control.

As of the end of November 2017, we have received, or have commitments in principle for 76% of the budget for this ambitious project, and are now looking to raise the final £65,000 based on the revised budget. 

We are so grateful for your investment into the training centre.  Properly designed, the building will last for generations and will ensure that all of our projects in health, education and food security, have a base from which to centre their activities.  Thank you so much for your support!

Ground floor plans for new Training Centre
Ground floor plans for new Training Centre
Lailenpi Town is nestled high in the Chin hills
Lailenpi Town is nestled high in the Chin hills
Locally quarried stone transported to site
Locally quarried stone transported to site
Preparing the site for building work
Preparing the site for building work
Purchasing materials
Purchasing materials
Selecting and purchasing materials
Selecting and purchasing materials
Sep 5, 2017

Back in the villages

Mrs Siza (right) during training
Mrs Siza (right) during training

“I grew up in a small village where there were no doctors, hospitals, nurses or midwives. I never had the chance to go to school. I lost my husband when he was young, so I had to work alone on my farm to look after my children. I have also worked in the community as a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) for over 30 years and have delivered hundreds of babies in the surrounding villages. However, I had little knowledge of how the body works and what actually happens during childbirth.There have been many complications during deliveries and at times I was fearful.”


Mrs Siza, 52 from Matupi Township, is well renown for her experience in supporting mothers during childbirth. Invited to the very first training course that we ran, she enjoyed herself so much that she requested to come again, and again. She has now attended the last five training sessions!


“The training has been more than I could have imagined. I was able to compare what I was taught with my experiences. I easily picked up the new skills such as hand washing, skin to skin contact, resuscitation, preventing excessive bleeding, breastfeeding, and how to measure blood pressure and temperature. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have received. I feel so proud. Now, whenever there is a complication during delivery or with a new-born baby, I remember what I have been taught and am excited to perform the practices I have learnt. Since receiving the training I have found that skin to skin contact has helped me solve so many problems women face post-delivery. Through the practice of breastfeeding I see and hear many babies become more calm and remain healthy.”


Having travelled back to her village from the TBA training, Mrs Siza heard about a women who had been in labour for three days. Three nurses from Matupi hospital tried to help her but the baby’s shoulder was stuck and they could not deliver the baby. Eventually, the husband sent someone with a motorbike to ask Mrs Siza for help.


“It was a full day’s journey from my village to where this lady was. As soon as I heard the news I prepared myself to go and arrived there at 9pm the same evening. In the beginning, I was very nervous, because of the three government nurses.  They were surrounding her and trying to help. However, I saw the mother’s pain and tiredness and felt very sorry for her. The nurses nally said that they could not do anything more, that she and the baby would die, so I asked them to please leave her, and let me see if I could help. When I realised the baby’s shoulder was stuck the lessons I had practiced during the TBA training from Health and Hope came to my mind. It was so clear. I did as we had learnt and the baby came out so quickly. Both mother and baby were happy within just a few minutes and the nurses were amazed and curious about where I had learnt this technique! The mother was crying and all of them were so happy and amazed. I thank God, Health & Hope and the TBA trainers from the UK, otherwise surely this women and her baby would have both died.”
 

We were so excited to hear Mrs Siza’s testimony and delighted that she had been able to put into practice all that she had learnt. Thank you to all who have been involved in fundraising for this project, we are so grateful for your ongoing support.

TBAs returning to their villages after training
TBAs returning to their villages after training

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