Cyclone Mora destroys Health and Hope Training Centre and homes in Lailenpi

News

Torrential rain and high winds in western Myanmar have destroyed homes and triggered landslides in rural villages within Chin State.  In Lailenpi, Matupi Township, thirty-seven homes were destroyed overnight as cyclone Mora headed north after having made landfall in Bangladesh on Tuesday 30th May 2017.  

Roads serving Lailenpi have been damaged by landslides or are blocked with fallen trees and over 250 men, women and children are currently being supported by the local community after having been made homeless.

We are devastated to report that Health and Hope Myanmar’s training centre was also destroyed by high winds, along with allied buildings.  Over the past 6 years, the centre has supported the training of 834 Community Health Workers from 551 villages across southern Chin and Rakhine State, in addition to acting as a central storage facility for the distribution of food relief during cyclone Komen.

Dr Sasa, founder of Health and Hope Myanmar, reported that the devastation of homes and buildings across the community will be felt for years to come and will impact the provision of training to Community Health Workers across the region in the short-term. 

Photographs of the the training centre before and after the devastation can be seen here.

Elders from the town in Lailenpi have said that damage caused by the storm was the worst they have witnessed, with heavy rain continuing to hamper efforts to repair partially damaged buildings and provide shelter to those who have lost their homes. Flash flooding and damage to crops across the region continues to be a significant concern for this remote rural community.   

We have set up a Cyclone Mora Appeal Fund on our donations page for those that may wish to respond. Funds will be allocated towards rebuilding costs and families affected by the cyclone.  

Thank you for your ongoing support.

To Lailenpi and back again…

We're delighted to share our latest newsletter with you. 
Click below to read in full.

7th February 2019

Latest update on maternal and neonatal health project

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!”


31st January 2019

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New Project: Education for All

 

"In my class, we don't have enough teachers, we don't have toilets, there's no water...I don't have a proper table to sit or a chair. We have to struggle a lot." Dipar, Chin State, Myanmar


Like Dipar, children in Chin State, Myanmar face a myriad of challenges in their attempts to secure a basic education at primary and secondary school.

Rugged geography, a scattered population, natural disasters, teaching in non-ethnic languages, challenges in retaining teachers and the highest rate of household poverty in Myanmar has led to a drop-out rate of 18% of children by the end of primary school. 

Pass rates for high school students at grade 10 are also dismal. Officially, only 8% of children in the rural areas of Chin State pass their high school qualifications at age 16.  In March 2017, the figures were even worse for children studying at the government school in Lailenpi, with less than 2% passing their exams. For those who do pass, financial constraints and lack of access to college education prevent most from continuing their studies.

Health and Hope Myanmar (HHM) launched a successful ‘Freedom to Education Project’ (FEP) in 2009, so far offering 85 students, who have passed their grade 10 exams and who carry a vision for the long term benefit of their people, the opportunity to pursue higher education. Students from the FEP have gone on to study medicine, engineering and business degrees and the first four graduates returned to Chin State to support the work of HHM in 2017. With many more following in their footsteps over the coming years.

To widen the impact of the FEP and address the shortfalls in education provision in Chin State, we are launching a new project, Education for All, a long sought-after education initiative amongst the rural poor in Chin State.

In the first year, the project aims to radically change the life opportunities of 100 impoverished high school students who are unable to break free from the cycle of poverty.  Some have tried unsuccessfully for up to seven years to pass their exams.  We want to change this and give them hope for the future.

Students will be supported through the provision of: high quality tuition from the returning FEP graduates, the translation of the curriculum into their local language, improved nutrition and access to a library of educational resources.  The project will also provide a model for returning FEP graduates to use their skills to transform education in their home villages. Through this work, we hope to offer more local children the chance to reach their academic potential, building hope for a future generation of young leaders in Chin State.

Would you like to join with us?  If you are able to help financially, a simple way to support this work is to become a founding partner by selecting 'Education' from our donate page and signing up for a direct debit online. As the project moves forward we'll send you updates on the work and stories from the children receiving support.

Alternatively, if you would like to register your church, school or youth group to support this project, or wish to discuss ways in which you can get involved further, please call us on 020 8144 5701‬ or write to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

16th August 2018

Dipar - 1 School - 1 School - 2

A great success: Training Traditional Birth Attendants in Myanmar

Training TBAs

“We have only ever done rote learning in the past, but this training you have given us is so great because we can see, hear and touch.  We can ask any questions we want to. The practical sessions are so helpful because you can really imagine it and practice it with your hands!” 
 Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) feedback from our recent workshop in western Myanmar. 

Thanks to the generous financial support of our partners, we were able to run our first "Train the Trainer" workshop for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in Lailenpi Town, Chin State at the beginning of April.

Our TBA training programme started in 2013 and has, to date, equipped over 166 local women with the skills to support mothers and babies through pregnancy, birth and early infancy. Our workshops focus on reducing the rate of neonatal and maternal deaths and the incidence of infant and maternal illness. The training has been so successful in one village, that the under-5 orphanage has now closed with no maternal deaths in the last five years!

To reinforce the expansion and sustainability of this training, we have recently piloted a ‘Train the Trainer’ initiative, equipping our most experienced indigenous health workers with the skills to proactively pass on their midwifery knowledge to new trainees themselves, rather than relying on outside expertise. 

Our first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop was run by three UK midwives during Easter, two of whom have made six prior trips to the region, having also supported the development of a bespoke training course for local women.

Following the six-day workshop, the new TBA trainers headed out to practice their skills in rural villages by training small groups of women across the region following a three-day curriculum. It was anticipated that they would each train up to four new TBAs. However, in the first village, sixteen women joined the training and in the second nineteen took part, so eager were they to participate and improve their knowledge.

"In Zo Ma village, sixteen women attended the training even though they only invited five! During the time in the village, there was one woman who could not do any work and was lying in a flat position throughout her pregnancy.  When the TBA Trainer arrived she was able to help reposition the baby and the woman has been able to stand and start work again.  At the end of the training she came to give us a chicken to say thank you!

Another woman was told by a villager that she had cancer in her bladder because they did not know she was pregnant. The TBA Trainers examined her and found out she was four months pregnant!  She was so delighted she praised God and was so thankful to the TBAs.

The women were so excited that other villages were calling to them saying, please come to our village, we will send a motorbike to pick you up.

In each village they went to, there was always more women than invited.  They asked for help with vitamins and better nutrition.  They also said the time was too short being just three days and the villagers were not satisfied and wanted more!"
Extract from our Programme Officer's report, April 26th 2018

The trainers and trainees had another surprise too. While conducting the training they were able to use their skills during a real birth, with mother and baby well looked after by all. The perfect training opportunity!

Our UK midwives will return to Chin State at the end of 2018 to review progress and receive feedback. They will also assess the extent of the knowledge passed on to the new TBAs through practical and theoretical appraisal and deliver additional training during their time there.

We're delighted with the impact of this project and it's all down to the financial backing of our supporters.  If you've been part of this project, thank you so much for partnering with us to bring health and hope to mothers and babies in western Myanmar!

We have, however, spent all of the funds raised over the last year and are now looking to secure further funding to enable the project to continue after the monsoon.

Can you help?  If so, please do share the link to this news page to enable this vital work to continue and if you are able, please do consider donating again.  

4th May 2018

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Rebuilding the Training Centre

There's been significant progress on the rebuilding work over the last few months.  With 80% of the funding now in for the training centre, the local community have started work under the support and supervision of a field engineer from EMI-World.  The photos below show the progress made so far with the whole community learning new techniques in reinforced concrete construction. 

Training Centre

24th January 2018

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