By Stephen Collins, World Vision’s Myanmar Portfolio Advisor
In the past couple of days, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing World Vision’s work to improve the health and security of families in Palaw Township, Myanmar. Palaw is located in the narrow strip of land in south-eastern Myanmar, squeezed between the sea and the border with Thailand.
As with many areas in this part of the world, it’s difficult to earn a living and many people choose to cross borders to find a secure income to support themselves and their families.
But life is changing, and changing quite quickly, so that soon, I hope people will feel they can have a good life here without feeling compelled to leave. To an outsider the changes to the surface are noticeable – bicycles have been replaced by motorbikes and there is more of a vibrant feel.
Dig deeper and the changes are just as striking. I am so happy to share some of these successes with you.
"In Palaw I visited health centres supported by sponsors like you who excitedly reported no recent cases of severe malnutrition and, quite strikingly, no child mortality (deaths) in their area for more than two years!"
This is great to hear in a country in which well over 50 of every 1,000 children have been dying before they turn five.
It’s clear that you are playing your part
Sometimes it’s hard for sponsors to truly understand the difference they are making, as it can take a long time to see changes in some areas. However in Palaw, these changes are shining through. Your sponsorship supports health activities in your sponsored child’s community.
"I visited a maternal, newborn and child health project, which helped to set up village health committees – groups of eight to 10 people, mostly women – who get together under a common cause of improving the health and nutrition of young children."
A large part of the committees’ work is raising awareness, both through group sessions with other mothers and through home visits to support families who are most in need. Thanks to their work, mothers understand more about the importance of breast feeding and the types of food their children need in order to develop well. They also learn about the importance of regular ante-natal and post-natal care and now, many more women are choosing to come to the medical centres for advice and support.
However, awareness raising can only go so far. There is not much point encouraging mothers to go to medical centres for delivery and care if the service they receive leaves little to be desired.
Here too you can see the fruits of your generosity.
"With support from this maternal, newborn and child health project, the medical staff showed me their clean, well-equipped delivery rooms, going a long way towards reducing the number of infant deaths or even the deaths of their mothers during delivery."