THE EIGHTH CAMILLIAN MISSION REPORT ON THE AREAS
AFFECTED BY THE CYCLONE NARGIS IN MYANMAR
December 1-7, 2009
Myanmar Mission 10 was commenced for the purpose of developing a Training Program for the Village Health Workers that serve the eight free clinics supported by the St. Camillus Foundation. The mission was launched on short notice, due to some previously unknown variables.
The agenda of this mission is presented in Annex 1.
The Camillian team arrived Yangon in the morning; the activities commenced in the afternoon. The team discussed the tentative agenda with the local coordinator in Myanmar, following the predetermined schedule for the afternoon.
Participants at the meeting included the Camillian Team, the key staff of the Border Areas Development Association (BDA), and the coordinator of the training course. Topics of discussion, led by Daw Than Than Aye Maung (team leader) began with overviews of the content of the Program and the general situation of all four free clinic, to include a summary of ongoing activities.
The discussion included in a decision to pretest all applicants. Trainers were to perform the testing, and to prepare pretesting and training evaluations. After six months to one year, Village Health Volunteers/Workers were to receive continuing education.
Also discussed was the establishment of additional BDA-sponsored free clinics in remote border areas of Myanmar for the purpose of providing access to basic health care to the impoverished villagers in the locations. The BDA is to prepare a project proposal that will be submitted to prospective donors.
The Camillian Team left the hotel at 0500 in the morning for Makwyun Township by Express boat. The team consisted of eight Village Health Volunteers/Workers from all four free clinics supported by St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand. At the Yangon pier, the Camillian team met with the trainers of the Training Program and with two volunteer medical doctors. Their names are shown in Annex 3 of this report.
This was the first time the lecturers were to journey to Mawkyun, a six and a half hour cruise. The Express boat is the only form of transportation to Mawkyun. Along the way, we noticed that we were accompanied by a few patients returning home from their treatment in Yangon. One, who was using crutches, transferrred from our sizable boat to a smaller boat along the river, where a family relative awaited him. The boats stop randomly along the river, as needed, to faciliatate such situations. We deduced that optimal medical treatment for more complex medical issues can presently only be provided in Yangon.
The Training Program commenced in the afternoon. The list of participants is shown in Annex 4. This program was tailored and modified for presentation in two separate locations: Pyisimaryon (overseen by the Abbot of Mawkyun) and the Multipurpose Center, Karya Village (overseen by the BDA.) The content of the program, presented by participants from the 8 free clinics supported by the St. Camillus Foundation, covered the following topics:
1. Introduction to Nurse Aid
2. Definition of Environment
– Community Environmental Health of the Community
– Definition of Environmental Sanitation
– Water Sanitation
3. Hand washing
4. Public Relations
5. Maternal and Child Health
6. Community Aspect (Standard treatment guide for Basic Health Workers)
7. Drug Administration for Sub Centre
While the trainers presented lectures to the participants in the classroom following the predetermined schedule, the Camillian team discussed, with those concerned, the financial details of all activities supported by the St. Camillus Foundation under the supervision of the Abbot of Mawkyun, to include recent and future receipts and disbursements.
It was noted that previously empty land that had been used for dumping had been converted into a play ground for children. The sports equipment that we had provided during our previous mission was finally being utilized! Sports were new to these children.
The children played “Takaw” (a game in which they kicked a rattan ball to one another). Fr. Rocco also explained the rules of the game of volley ball. Under his supervision, the children divided themselves into groups in preparation for the game. We watched the children happily playing volley ball, while their elders joyfully observed them participate in the novel undertaking. The Novices from the Monastery were very eager to observe the game as well; unfortunately, their status did not allow for their participation. At the end of the game, the children greeted Fr. Rocco in an elated yet humble manner, as usual. They appeared grateful for the sports equipment andfor the introduction to its usage. Fr. Rocco was satisfied with the amount of joy this small donation provided to the children who had suffered so deeply from the effects of Cyclone Nargis in this locality. He was also pleased that the opportunity provided to the children for excersize would enhance their health.
The Training Course for Village Health Workers of the four supported free clinics continued. Simultaneously, the volunteer doctors of the Camillian Team spent the entire day providing medical treatment and services at the Pyisimaryon Clinic to about 70 persons. The President of St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand, took this opportunity to provide blankets for the winter season to the patients at the clinic and to the orphans at the Pyisimaryon Monastery. In addition, rice and dried food were provided to the orphans of this center.
In the late afternoon, Fr. Rocco played “Takraw” with the teacher and some of the older students. He hoped that when they became familar with the game, they could teach other students to play. While they played Takraw, the Novices observed with interest and laugher. This was the “happy hour” for the students and Novices at the Monastery.
The two-day Health Training Course was completed late in the afternoon. All participants were awarded a certificate of attendance. Students and trainers alike seemed satisfied with the results.
After dinner, Fr. Rocco appeared at the evening English class at the Monastery, where he viewed the educational materials that the St. Camillus Foundation had provided, taught and tested the students.
Mawkyun / Yangon /Yetain Village, Konchangone
The Camillian Team, trainers and volunteers departed from Mawkyun early in the morning for the Express boat back to Yangon. This boat was a bit smaller than the boat that had transported the team to Mawkyun, but the length of the journey was comparable: approximately seven hours. During the jouney, the Camillian volunteer medical doctors had the opportunity to speak to the coordinator of the Training Program. The experienced instructor shared her academeic knowledge, and the young volunteer doctors shared their knowledge and recounts of their experiences in the fields
After lunch, the Camillian team and volunteer medical doctors proceeded to Yetain Village, Kunchangone Township, where the St. Camillus Foundation had intervened in the rehabilitation of the local ponds, to provide access to clean drinking water for the population. The group travelled in a very small boat across the river, a mere 10-minute trip. They chose this route because they did not obtain a travel permit from the government to travel to this village. Fr. Rocco was noncommunicative, and hoped that he would be perceived as a citizen of Myanmar. Travel by boat between villages was common in the area.
From the small boat, the team took a taxi for about one and a half hour, after which they connected with a yet smaller small boat, size of 3m. x 0.80m. Following a 40 minute journey through man-made canals, they reached Yaitain Village. The Village has a population of 1,020 (256 households; 508 male; 512 female.) The village school provided for a 4th grade education. Student in grade 5 & 6, continued their education in Kunchangone Township. There are two ways to reach Kunchangone from Yetain Village. One way is to walk for nearly one hour. The village can also be reached by boat by travelling via man-made canals to a bus stop. (If the water level in the canals is not sufficient, travel by boat is not possible.) Upon reaching land, the students could access the bus and travel for another 1/2 hour to reach the school in Kunchangone. Such travel challenges prevented many villagers from continuing their education beyond grade 4.
Through the initiative of the volunteers from the BDA, the volunteers pooled some of their financial resources to provide a salary for a teacher to teach students in grade 5 and grade 6 next year. The additional education would enable the students to pass the government test required for graduation, and to continue to the next educational level. The poverty of the villagers has prevented many from receiving an education beyond the minimum. At present, there are 16 students in grade 5. The parents of some of these students contributed about US$3 for the school year, but the but the tuition was not within the budget of all. The initiative group employed a full time teacher at the rate of about US$ 50 per month. Currently, they do not have sufficient funds available, and additional funding will be required.
The Abbot of the Yaitain Monastery chaired the meeting of the Community Committee, along with another 5 members from the community, to plan the management of the funds donated by the volunteers. The Abbot and the Community Committee felt that this initiative was crucial; therefore, they had provided a bamboo multipurpose room that was used as a classroom for the meeting.
St. Camillus Foundation is prepared to pay the salary of the fifth teacher for the first academic year in the amount of US $600, and to pay for the salary of the fith and sixth grade teachers for the second year (US$ 1,200.) The Community Committee would be responsible for management of the educational funds, under the supervision of the BDA.
Multipurposes Center, Karya Village, Yangon
The President of St. Camillus Foundation presented the training course for Basic Health Care at the Multipurposes Center at Karya Village. There were 10 participants in attendance. In addition to the participants from the 4 free clinics supported by St. Camillus foundation, one health worker from Thit Phyu Chaung Village attended. The St. Camillus Foundation had provided support to this village, and there are plans to open a free clinic there. Unfortunately, the plan has not yet been realized. It was a good sign that the village health worker from Thit Phyu Chaung Village expressed the interest and motivation to attend.
After the opening ceremony, the Camillian group immediately left the Multipurposes Center for Yay Twin Gone Orphanage Center, Hmawbi Township, Yangon Division. The distance from the village to Yangon city is about one and a half hour by car. It was noted that St. Camillus Foundation had supported a free clinic in Hmawbi Village of Dedaye Township. The Orphanage Center is located in the Hmawbi Township of Yangon Division. The orphanage has been operated by the “Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition”. This congregation had started their mission in Myanmar 162 years ago, and support over 100 sisters in and around Myanmar. There were 20 orphans at the center who were the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Ten girls were in the primary grades, eight were in middle school, and two were in high school.
The orphans live at the orphanage and attend the Government school under the responsibility of the St. Joseph’s sisters. The center is a small, overcrowded dwelling built through the resources of generous parishioners from the U.K. The center has no financial support from any particular donor. Occasionally, a private donation is received. The St. Camillus Foundation agreed to cover the cost of the tuition for the twenty orphans, victims of Cyclone Nargis. We were told that these orphans had only vegetables and rice for food. Meats was an occasional luxury. After viewing the small vegetable garden that served as the food supply for the center, the President of St. Camillus Foundation agreed to provide funds to cover the food expense for these orphans for a one year period, to ensure the proper growth and development of the young people. The Foundation also provided sport equipment and sportswear for the children, as well as some dried food. It also appeared that the center was in need of gardening equipment with which they could expand their garden, as well as some livestock.
The Camillian team learned that the Provincial House of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition is located in Yangon. The Camillian team took this opportunity to pay a visit to the Provincial Superior Sister, Sister Marie Kyi, SJA to discuss the activities performed in Myanmar on behalf of the victims of Cyclone Nargis, and to discuss future collaboration in Myanmar. We were informed that the focus of this Congregation is placed on education, the orphanage, some health centers, caring for HIV/AIDs patients, etc. The Congregation ran 15 dispensaries (basic health centers) and 3 HIV/AIDS centers (Kyaik Kha Mee, Kalay Myo, Loikaw) around Myanmar. Another HIV/AIDS center would be established at Kaw Thaung, near the border of Thailand. Fr. Rocco informed the group that the St. Camillus Foundation had several mobile clinics in the Southern parts of Thailand, particular near the Myanmar’s border. If the the Congregation was willing to establish a clinic at Kaw Thaung, a close collaboration with St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand, was encouraged. The Provincial Superior expressed an interest in sending the staff working in their HIV/AIDS centers to be trained at the Camillian HIV/AIDS center in Thailand for two to three months for management training.
The Camillian team learned Cyclone Nargis, severely affected the Kyaik Kha Mee center. Many HIV/AIDS patients of the center were impacted more severely even than the rest of the population. It was difficult for the Sisters to shoulder the additional challenges created by the cyclone. There is a shortage of medicine and supplementary food for children living with HIV/AIDS. The President of St. Camillus Foundation decided to fund medicines and milk powder for the center.
St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand had also supported the educational grants for another six orphans affected from the Cyclone Nargis who are living with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition at the St. Emilie Convent, Orphanage in Ahlone. Five of them studying at the private high school in Yangon. They are greatlhy in need of educational funding for the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.
Multipurposes Center, Karya Village, Yangon
The Camillian Team visited the Multipurposes Center in Karya Village to observe the training course for basic health care, and to discuss collaborative activities with the BDA staff. During the discussion, the electricity was disrupted, ad we were unable to use the computer. We were informed that such power outages are normal, and that this problem occurs several times daily. The President of St. Camillus Foundation, Thailand, suggested the purchase of generators and motors to minimize the effects of such events. The local poor and homeless children in the vicinity of the center depend on electricity in order to continue their education, particularly computer training. The President of St. Camillus Foundation agreed to provide support for a generator and motor for the center. Due to lack of electricity, the meeting was postponed until the evening, and relocated to the hotel where the president stayed.
Meanwhile, the BDA staff was conducting the training course at the center. The Training Course was finished at 1730.
The meeting of the BDA staff and Camillian team took place in the hotel. The discussion was focused on two proposals.
The first proposal addressed the funding of the Livelihood Project at Than Lyin Village and Kyauktan Village in the Yangon Division. Both villages were affected by Cyclone Nargis. A request was presented for agriculture equipment, livestock, and other assets for two areas served, in the estimated amount of US$ 16,100. A second request was made for the cost for construction for the extension of the classroom at the Multipurposes Center, Karya Village. The funds were to be used to add two more classrooms and to provide tables & benches for the class. The President of St. Camillus Foundation was unable approve the proposal due to uncertainty concerning the availability of funds. He was unable to access to the internet in order to determine whether certain funds had been released by “Salute e Sviluppo”. Thus, the decision was postponed until more information regarding finances would be available following the return to Bangkok. Funds in the amount of US$ 1,330 were disbursed, however, to cover the cost of a generator and motor. The equipment was to be purchased on Monday. The receipt for the purchase would be scanned and forwarded to the St. Camillus Foundation.
The Camillian team left Yangon for Bangkok in the morning.