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The Big Give Christmas Challenge!

Posted on 24th November 2020 by Philippa Wilford

The Big Give Christmas Challenge!

We have an exciting opportunity for you to DOUBLE the impact of your giving by taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge. 

For one week in December, the first £4,500 of donations given to Health & Hope via the Big Give website, will be doubled!

We’ll be using the challenge to raise much needed funds for Hope Clinic, which treats 2,000 patients annually, as well as providing outreach mobile clinic services to remote villages across Chin state. 

Get involved! 

We are aiming to raise £4,500, which will then be DOUBLED by funds matched via the Christmas Challenge - making your donations go even further! But in order to do this, we need your help:

  • Please consider giving a financial gift during the Christmas Challenge which takes place from 1st December - 8th December 2020. The first £4,500 of donations given to Health & Hope during the challenge via the Big Give website will be matched! 
  • Invite someone to take part in the challenge - maybe you know a friend of relative who would also like to support Health & Hope in this way? Or perhaps you could ask for donations to Health & Hope in replace of Christmas presents this year... 
  • Spread the word - please share our social media posts about the challenge and our work and help us make even more of a difference. 

What your support will do

By giving through the Big Give Christmas Challenge, you will be supporting Hope Clinic, providing: 

  • Essential equipment & supplies for Hope Clinic & mobile medical clinics
  • Funding two nurses to support Hope Clinic & mobile medical clinics
  • Mobile medical clinics covering 30 remote villages
  • In-situ training for 12 Community Health Workers

 

You can read the latest update on Hope Clinic here and find out how your support is making a difference. 

I know my grandchildren are safe because we have access to a clinic with doctors & nurses like you. In the past I was afraid of seeking medical help from the government facility because I don’t speak Burmese. Now we can come to Hope clinic full of confidence. Thank you so much for your kindness.

Thank you! 

We are so grateful for every individual who chooses to partner with us and continues to walk alongside us as we seek to serve the poorest communities in westerrn Myanmar. 

Staff feature: Dipar

Posted on 19th November 2020 by Philippa Wilford

Staff feature: Dipar

Health & Hope is blessed with some incredible staff members!

Many of them have been helped through our Freedom to Education Project (FEP) and have joined the staff team since graduating. You can read a recent update on the team in Myanmar here

We recently spoke to Dipar, one of the staff team based in Lailenpi and she shared a bit of her story and heart for her community in Chin State.


Dipar, you are known to many of us through the video on Health & Hope website. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood, before you were selected for the scholarship?

Growing up in my village was hard. I was one of ten children and my parents were farmers. They tended the crops away from home. The older children were expected to look after the younger ones.

Our parents used to come back once a week to see us, and bring us food, which was meant to last for the whole week. But when we got hungry, we might just go into the forest to try and collect food. I had a friend who died falling out of a tree. It still isn’t a very safe life for children. It is not uncommon for a child to get lost in the forest, or to drown in a river.

At school, we had to take our younger siblings with us and look after them whilst trying to concentrate during class. There wasn’t a lot of time to study because we were having to take care of the chores, and take care of each other. This all made it incredibly hard to keep working; to stay motivated.

(This video shows how Dipar came to complete her studies through the Freedom to Education Project.)

 

The Health & Hope Scholarships, Freedom to Education, are for those students who have managed to pass their Year 10 exams (historically less than 5% of students passed these exams in Chin State.) So, how did you manage to pass when there was so little motivation and support?

Well, I saw how difficult it was being a farmer — avoiding that future was my motivation! My parents said to me “the only way to not be a farmer is to get an education.” I did actually like studying and so I wanted to do my best.

Then, when I passed my Year 10, I spent about six months working with my parents. I was very unhappy. I did not like it at all, but wonderfully Dr Sasa wrote to our Church saying that through Health & Hope I could continue my studies and then return to work for our community.

This has been a dream come true! It feels like a double blessing that I get to earn a living doing something I love that has such purpose.

So, you have come back and been working as a teacher at the new school, which helps students who didn’t manage to graduate?

Exactly. I teach Chemistry and a bit of English. It has been very challenging as we are very close in age to some of the students, many of whom have been trying to pass these exams several times over. We have had to learn fast, and develop the programme. These students don’t have much confidence in their abilities, and are not natural students, and so finding ways to motivate and communicate has been a learning process. 

 

However, the first year’s results were encouraging!

Yes, we are delighted with the successes that we have seen. (Read more about it here!)

 

But for now the school is closed due to the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19…

Yes. We have worked hard at developing materials for students to study remotely. But of course, many can’t access any online learning. We try to give out printed materials, but it is hard travelling to remote locations, and printing resources is expensive, so it is not ideal at all. We are very much looking forward to when the school can open again.

 

Is this all you are doing at the moment, trying to keep up with students who are not at school?

Well, no, actually. I am now involved in Health & Hope’s Farming Programme.

 

Wait. . . did you say farming?!

I know! When my friends hear that I am farming they find this very funny. But actually I love it. What we are doing through HH is transforming not only our understanding and success at agriculture, but now, we are also doing much more to preserve our environment. All this is totally changing the way farming is perceived in our community.

All my generation used to think of farming as I did — we thought it was the worst thing you could end up doing. But now, farming has become something to aspire towards.

How did the farmers first respond when you started trying to teach new practices?

There was a bit of a joke with some farmers saying, ‘I have been doing this for forty-five years.’ But actually everyone was very open-minded. I think we were able to quickly show the positive outcomes, and so the response has been really good.

What is your role?

I am a project coordinator, helping assess the needs of around 200 farmers in our network. We prepare training materials, liaising with advisors in Nepal and Thailand to improve our knowledge. I translate these resources and act as a bridge between our farmers and the experts. We then invite famers to join our meetings and demonstrate examples of methodology at our model farm. We teach technical knowledge and create videos about subjects such as composting, effective terraces for soil preservation, maintaining good water sources, and how to take care of the surrounding environment.

Until recently, we had little understanding of the ecological impact of farming and so we have lost some wildlife. For example, we used to do a lot of ‘slash and burn’ land clearance, which is very destructive. Knowing that our techniques are preserving our wildlife is something I am really proud of. I also travel between the farms to check up on how they are doing, find out any supplies they might need and organise delivery. This is usually from Mandalay and can take over a week.

Can you talk us through a typical day?

Well, I might start with a personal reading and prayer time before work. I live at the Health and Hope centre in Lailenpi, and so we are a community together. Some staff live in their family homes, if they are from the town, but for others of us whose family live more remotely, we have dormitories together.

We eat breakfast together and often start the day with devotions and prayer. Then we get on with our work until lunchtime when we come to eat and share about our what we’ve been doing, then it’s back to work! We share out the household tasks such as cleaning, helping our cooks and looking after the animals on our model farm. There are pigs and fish to look after, along with the crops, which we then eat. 

It is like one big family, and we mainly get on very well! 

If there are visitors to Lailenpi, they stay at the centre as there is no other guest house, and so we act as hosts. So there is a lot going on. On the weekends, we might play volleyball, and other games, sing and have our church services. In my spare time, I enjoy all these things, and also meeting with people, visiting their homes and having good discussions.

Thank you very much for helping our people, and thank you for being a voice to the world for our people.

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.

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