Recent flood waters have had a devastating impact on communities in both Chin and Rakhine States. One month before the rice was due to be harvested, crops have been destroyed, transport links have been washed away and many houses and buildings have been damaged.
In and around Lailenpi, roads and bridges that provided critical transport links to the border for food and supplies have been washed away in the floods, and paddy fields are covered with thick mud. For many of the villages where our Community Health Workers are based, there is an immediate and ongoing need for food assistance, due to the damage caused to agriculture and the loss of livestock.
To date, international NGOs and foreign governments have given over $2.3 million of aid. However, only 435,000 people out of the 1.3 Million affected have received food supplies. Moreover, none of this support has been able, or indeed is likely to reach the areas served by Health and Hope.
We have therefore developed a response which is local and long term, focused on:
Phase 1: Providing emergency food aid to rural villages
This week we have been undertaking advocacy in Yangon, to make international agencies aware of the situation of villages in the remote rural areas of Chin and Rahkine States and encouraging them to direct aid to the most needy areas. However, our experience of large scale aid given by agencies during the Matwa Famine (2008-2013), was that their use of logistical routes from inside Yangon, left many villagers without support.
As such, in the last two weeks, Health and Hope have secured the support of the local government in Mizoram State of India, who have worked to rebuild roads to the Chin State border, enabling us to purchase and transport 1,500 bags of rice (weighing 50kg each) into the most affected regions.
Each bag of rice costs £20 to purchase and transport and provides enough food for a family of four to survive for one month. Working with our team on the ground and a support network of local churches and our established Community Health Workers, we are able to access villagers in the most remote areas. Can you help us to expand our response to reach more families in need?
Phase 2: Disaster Needs Assessment
Hand-in-hand with the Mara Evangelical Church and working as part of a consortium of local NGOs and Churches, we are undertaking a needs assessment over the coming 2-3 weeks, in order to gather data from the region. This will be collated and reviewed by our team in Yangon and a coordinated local response developed to address food insecurity, health needs and livelihood development.
Following the needs assessment, a third phase will be planned and communicated which will look at addressing the medium to long term needs of people in our homeland. We expect that the trust built with communities over the last seven years, and our network of over 900 Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants, will prove invaluable in reaching out to villagers affected by the flooding.
What can you do to help?
To help villagers affected by the flooding, please consider donating a one off or monthly gift via to directly support our ongoing and life saving work in the region.
A great success: Training Traditional Birth Attendants in Myanmar
“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.
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.
24th January 2018
Cyclone Mora Rebuilding Appeal - Video Update
On the 30th May 2017, cyclone Mora swept across Chin State, western Myanmar, triggering landslides and destroying buildings in rural villages.
At our main base in Lailenpi town, there was considerable damage to roads and homes and sadly our training centre was torn down by the high winds and torrential rain.
Yet despite the personal impact and sorrow felt by our staff and the local villagers, hope is rising.
Health and Hope staff and a committed team from the local community have come together to dismantle the old training facility and prepare the ground for a new, reinforced training hall and dormitory to be built.
Take a look at our short film to see what has been going on in Lailenpi since the cyclone hit:
As the film above shows, the site is now ready and waiting for rebuilding work to start. We are grateful for the support of eMI-World who are providing world-class architectural and structural engineering support to help design a reinforced building which will withstand future cyclones and earth tremors.
In the last newsletter we asked for your help to raise £60,000 towards the rebuilding budget. We are delighted to report that, thanks to your generosity, you have helped us to raise nearly £45,000 towards this target. This is enabling construction work to move ahead while additional fundraising is taking place. Thank you so much!
15th October 2017
Cyclone Mora destroys Health and Hope Training Centre and homes in Lailenpi
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.
31st May 2017
Vice President of Myanmar visits Health and Hope’s work
We were absolutely delighted to host Vice President U Henry Van Thio in Lailenpi on Monday 27th February.
The Vice President arrived by helicopter, along with Deputy Minister Major-General Than Htut and Union Minister U Thant Sin Maung among others.
During the visit, the Vice President reviewed the work of Health and Hope, the proposal for building of an airstrip in Lailenpi and inspected the progress of development work within Lailenpi Town.
Over 2,000 townspeople, led by Dr Sasa, got hard to work to prepare for his arrival - even constructing two helipads to safely receive him!
A meeting was held in the sports field in the centre of Lailenpi where Dr Sasa proposed support for the betterment of roads, schools, the hospital, energy and communication for the people of the town.
We are so grateful to Vice President U Henry Van Thio and all the visiting dignitaries who gracefully supported many of these proposals and for their commitment to the people of Lailenpi and Chin State.
Health and Hope is a partnership between Health and Hope UK and Health and Hope Myanmar. Health and Hope UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England under Company No. 08290412 and Charity No. 1151105. Health and Hope Myanmar is registered in Myanmar under NGO Registration No. 0264.