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HHUK Press Statement

Posted on 8th September 2020 by Philippa Wilford

HHUK Press Statement

Dr Sasa's potential role in Myanmar’s forthcoming elections

For Immediate Release
8th September 2020

Dr Sasa, the founder of Health & Hope’s work in Myanmar, has been nominated by the Central Executive Committee of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to represent their campaign in Chin State, ahead of forthcoming elections.

Today, Dr Sasa released a public statement on his possible candidacy, stating that discussions with the NLD leadership are still ongoing and no decision has been formally made.

Dr Sasa has committed his life and his work to the people of Chin State. In his statement he draws attention to the many challenges facing the Chin people, including the need for national unity and reconciliation and the importance of prioritising the most vulnerable.

The vision that Dr Sasa has held for his people and his nation has inspired many people over the years and his priorities and values have not changed as he influences and leads change in Chin State and beyond. 

Discussions with the NLD are ongoing. If Dr Sasa were to formally accept any role in the election process, he would sever his links with Health & Hope Myanmar. Dr Sakie, the Deputy-CEO would then step up into leadership, supported by a fully equipped team, of medical staff educational professionals and food security specialists.  Field operations will continue unhindered, ensuring continuity of Health & Hope’s work to vulnerable rural communities.

Dr Sasa's message is available to read on Facebook here. The full statement from Dr Sasa is also copied below. 

Statement by Dr Sasa on the inclusion of his name in the NLD’s list for the Chin State Election Campaign Committee

For Immediate Release
8th September 2020

As many of my countrymen and women will know, I have spent my life tirelessly working for the welfare and development of the people of Chin State and beyond. 

As a young boy, I grew up in one of the most remote regions of Myanmar, constantly facing the suffering, hardship, and the pain. In my village, there were no roads, electricity or running water and we struggled to survive. Many of my best friends died young whilst I was still at school and women in my village died needlessly in childbirth. From a young age, I was determined to help them, and after graduating as a doctor, I have given my life to serving the people of my country, no matter what tribe or tongue. 

I have always believed, that nobody should be left behind suffering and in pain, and over the last decade and more of work, we have purposefully focused our efforts on reaching the most vulnerable, bringing hope to the hopeless, through transforming countless lives across the spheres of health, education, community development and food security. Through simple acts of kindness and compassion, through hard work and perseverance, we have helped to transform the lives of countless villagers and contributed to peace, security, and the development of our nation.

On 8th November 2020, the people of Myanmar will choose a government to represent them. The successful party will have a full agenda and high expectations, to address the many challenges that we face today, whilst also bringing transformational change to people’s livelihoods. The government will need to bring unity and reconciliation where there is division, transparency, and accountability where there is corruption, and promote investment and opportunity, prioritising those who are the most vulnerable. 

The NLD has asked me to consider a role as a member of Campaign Committee in Chin State. I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been listed by the NLD . There are clearly many needs facing our people, and I strongly believe that by working together, with integrity, honouring one another above ourselves, Chin State can flourish and become a blessing for the whole nation. 

Alongside my work as a humanitarian and doctor, I have been holding several discussions with the NLD to gain a better sense of their vision for Chin State and how this aligns with the needs of the Chin people. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, we have been unable to meet in person and as such, our discussions have not yet concluded. 

If I were to stand with any political party on behalf of the Chin, I would do this as an ambassador of the Chin people, speaking out for the needs of the Chin and urging us to work together for the development and prosperity of the communities in which we live. I would seek out ways to resolve security concerns and work for peace and reconciliation in Chin State and nationwide. 

I believe Chin State can be a driver of economic investment and development, utilising our people’s trustworthiness, determination, and skills, alongside Chin State's abundant natural resources to bring opportunity and development to all. 

If I were to take office, I would want to see significant, measurable changes across the State in equitable access to opportunities and resources, particularly in health, education, development and food security, just as we have started to see in the rural areas that we have been serving over the last decade. 

Whilst discussions continue, I pray that whoever takes on the role of leadership for Chin State, will be dedicated to delivering good governance, security, justice, and socio-economic opportunity to all. This is the future that the people of Chin State deserve.

In the meantime, I remain totally committed to continuing my efforts to serve the people of Chin State and Myanmar, whom I have always served with my whole heart.

Dr Sasa.

An update on the local staff team in Myanmar

Posted on 8th September 2020 by Philippa Wilford

An update on the local staff team in Myanmar

In the early days of Health & Hope, Dr Sasa led the work in Myanmar with support from an incredibly committed team of local volunteers. Thanks to our generous supporters, we've been able to help grow and support a professional team of staff from the local villages who now lead the operational work on a day to day basis.  

Many of the team first studied under our Freedom to Education Project, receiving a scholarship to study at college and then a university overseas. They have now returned as doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers to lead the operational work and serve their local communities.  

Looking back, this was something that seemed impossible given that access to education is so limited and how many challenges they needed to overcome. But through their hard work, perseverance and as a result of your support, these young adults are having a huge impact. 

Their work is not only experienced through the many villagers lives impacted by the projects on a daily basis, but students in the village work harder, because they see what their older classmates have achieved. They see friends returning as confident adults, and this brings hope to families across the region.

In 2018, three doctors from Health & Hope’s Freedom to Education Project (FEP) returned to Lailenpi to help run Hope Clinic after undertaking six years of study in China and the Philippines. They were joined in 2019 and 2020 by seven qualified nurses, who have also been supported by Health & Hope scholarships. Their training included a one-year internship in hospitals in Yangon in addition to college and undergraduate degrees in India. Whilst taking up project based roles leading our work in health and education, they also oversee a 24/7 clinical service to the local community in Lailenpi and the surrounding villages. It has been tremendous to see the development of a dynamic team, working together, sharing skills, experiences and a vision for the future.

The Education for All team is also made up of a number of returning FEP graduates, one of whom is Dipar, who has a real passion for seeing young people fulfil their potential through education. If you don't already know Dipar's story, you can watch her video below. 

Many staff members have incredible testimonies of the challenges they have faced in their lives. It is these hardships that have shaped who they are, and their vision for the future. Dr Shwe Hu Lian recently shared his story of the tragedies he has  which have driven him to become a doctor and support his community.  

The dedication, commitment and enthusiasm of the local staff team is second to none.  Their return to the villages of rural Chin state has been inspirational for younger students and their professionalism has helped to radically accelerate the impact of the work, as well as take a significant burden from Dr Sasa's shoulders.

Education for All: The results are in!

Posted on 14th August 2020 by Philippa Wilford

Education for All: The results are in!

Education for All was launched in June 2019, and is a long sought-after education initiative which aims to tackle the dismal Grade 10 pass rate amongst ‘repeater students’, who have attempted to take the Grade 10 exam at High School and failed.  Without support, these students have no further opportunities to study and are unable to find employment.  

The education system in Myanmar currently excludes rural, poor, ethnic minority children due to language barriers, location, poverty, and curriculum content. Pre-school coverage in Chin State is severely limited and the levels of supervision and quality of teaching vary widely. Children often receive no teaching in their ethnic language. These problems continue into primary school and beyond, which, combined with high levels of household poverty, contribute to extremely high drop out rates. As a result, less than 5.5% of youths will make it through school to pass their critical Grade 10 exams. 

Last year, over a 9 month period, Education for All provided 96 students from 30 remote villages targeted education, aiming to significantly improve the Grade 10 matriculation rate and future life opportunities for these students. 

Education for All students & staff

“On top of having to learn Burmese, the students are forced to take five exams in English. Imagine taking five GCSEs in your third or fourth language with a teacher who doesn’t even speak the language fluently! Well that’s what it’s like for Grade 10 students in Chin State. Rather than being surprised at how few students pass these all-important Grade 10 exams, I was amazed that any had passed them at all. And yet some of the few who did pass have gone on to complete university degrees with Health & Hope, returning as doctors, nurses and teachers to support and transform their community.

Education is valued and prized in Chin State, so much so, that even five years after failing to pass their Grade 10 exams, some students chose to ‘return to school’ this year and attend the project… One student first sat his exam with one of the staff of the school.  At 27 he had taken the Grade 10 exam six times over the past decade. The team’s relentless hard work, patience and willingness is sure to reap rewards… Suppose a far greater percentage pass this year, go on to complete tertiary education and then return to the region - think of the further transformation that will take place… Wow!”

Janette Creber, UK Educational Consultant & volunteer for the Education for All project

Student Results

National Grade 10 exam results in Myanmar were released on 9th August 2020.  The national average showed that 32% of students passed their exams. 

Mon State, the leading state for many years in Grade 10 results, dropped from a 37% pass rate in 2019 to only 34% in 2020.  Yangon, representing by far the most urban areas of the country, was consistent with the prior year scoring 32.8%. 

Chin State as a whole scored 21.2% this year, slightly higher than last year, but in Lailenpi, the small town where the project is based, the pass rate was only 14.2% (38 out of 266 students). The government school this year only achieved 10% and only 10 out of 112 students from the rural villages attending the examination centre passed (9%).

Given this context, we were delighted that in the first year of the Education for All project, we achieved a 31% pass rate with 27 out of 87 students passing their exams.

We are so proud of the Education team and their hard work that has resulted in such a successful first year of the project. Especially given that the staff were relatively inexperienced in teaching and the project took in students that had previously failed their exams without any selection and so there was significant work needed to develop their understanding of the curriculum. 

Without your support, only 9% of students coming from remote villages would have passed their exams based on the performance of the examination centre.  Achieving 31%, a pass rate consistent with major urban areas, and almost 10% higher than the local private school (which has been operating for almost a decade) was a major accomplishment.

You may remember previously reading about one of the students, Ester, who is delighted to have passed her exams and is excited to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse to help her community. 

A hope for the future

Sahnei is one of the students who attended the Education for All project after failing his class 10 exam eight times. He was originally in the same class as Dipar, one of the FEP graduates who is now teaching as part of the Education for All project. 

Dipar recalls meeting her old classmate when they were enrolling students: “Yesterday when I was receiving the students for Education for All, unexpectedly I met one of my Year 10 classmates. Incredibly, he has been trying to pass class 10 since 2010 when I was also taking the same exam. As soon as I met him, he said to me: "I really need your help to pass my year 10". I am so touched by what my friend said to me. I really hope and pray that this project will be a blessing for many students.”

Sadly, the frustration of failing his exams so many times and limited opportunities for his future, had left Sahnei in a bad place.

“Since I failed year 10 so many times, I had lost hope and had started taking drugs. It was hard to make the decision to come to the Education for All project as I was shy and embarrassed to be a student of some of my friends. But I enrolled in the school and my life was changed. The teachers helped me so much in doing my lessons and we also did devotions, Bible reading and praying. It really touched my heart and changed my life.

In March I took the Grade 10 exams for the 9th time. I am so thankful to Dr Sasa, the Health & Hope team - by the grace of God I have passed my exams!

Now I have hope for my future - I really want to work for my people. I am already helping students in my village who are studying Grade 10. Finally now I can look for a job. And I would like to do a distance learning course for University to further my studies.”

Thank You!

We are so grateful for your support in helping us to launch the first year of the Education for All project.  Despite the incredibly challenging context and many lessons we have learnt, we have seen the students flourish in their confidence and understanding throughout the year.  Even though many students require ongoing support to pass their exams, we were delighted that the project achieved a strong result in its first year.

The team are now busy planning the next year of the project - the start of which has been slightly delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as the exam results had been published, the team opened up applications for the coming year and over 40 students applied in the first day!

If you would like to support the next year of this project and change the lives of students like Sahnei, you can donate online

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