KWO is pleased to provide our 2011/12-update report including programs currently running in the community, challenges and successes, financial reports, KWO special activities and a Call to Action. One thing that remains true throughout KWO’s 28 years of service is our commitment to the Empowerment, Equality, and Freedom of all Karen women. Thank you to KWO staff, leaders, members, volunteers, community members, partner organizations and funders who help make KWO successful!
In March and April, 2013 KWO were able to conduct Baby Kits Project Monitoring trip to four of the districts inside Karen state of Burma. Please kindly see some pictures that were taken during the trip at different district. We were very surprised to see many men accompanied their wives. And in some cases they helped their wives answered the question by explaining how the kits benefit for their family. please see the slide show below;
Baby Kit Monitoring Trip: Reflections from the field
“I feel fulfilled and happy when I give Baby Kits to mothers and newborns in the village. I get to see the joy the kits bring to the women and their families. So many women like the Baby Kits that they ask us for more Kits.”
– KWO Baby Kit Project Staff
Baby Kit Recipients:
“My husband travels very far from our village to look for a job and I have no one at home to support me and my three children. I do not have enough money to buy the things that are in the Baby Kits that I get from KWO. I feel very happy and not stressed when I get the Kit. KWO also gives me encouragement and support to help me feel more stronger and confident.”
– Baby Kit Recipient
“I am not in good health and it is very difficult for me to support my family. When I got the Baby Kit I felt much joy because I was able to provide for my family and keep my baby healthy.”
– Baby Kit Recipient
“When I got the Baby Kit I was able to keep my baby healthy. Before I was not able to wash my baby with soap and now I keep my baby clean with soap and keep my baby healthy.”
– Baby Kit Recipient
“I appreciate the care and dedication KWO shows to my community. I like knowing that KWO is there to support us and help us.”
– Baby Kit Recipient
Goal: To promote better understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights among adolescents in IDP areas in Burma and in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, and create opportunities for adolescents in migrant communities in Thailand to access information.
About the project: Since its inception in 2003, KWO has been involved with a network called the Adolescent Reproductive Health Network (AHRN) of nine interested organizations, which teaches young people about sexual and reproductive health. Alongside KWO, the network is made up of Mae Tao Clinic, Social Action for Women, Palaung Women’s Organization, Karen Youth Organization, Burmese Women’s Union, Burma Medical Association, United Lahu Youth Organization, Tavoy Women’s Organization and Backpack Health Worker Team.
Youth Centre: AHRN continues to operate its youth centre in Mae Sot that was set up in 2008. This centre provides a safe and open environment for young people from migrant communities to gather for social and educational activities, to access reproductive health information, contraception, counselling services, family planning supplies and referrals. The youth centre also has a library, badminton set, tennis table, cane ball and a guitar for migrant communities to access. A television is available for watching educational DVDs that are accessible from the centre. Staff are rostered to sit in the youth centre, so that someone is constantly available for talking to the youth if they need.
Although clinics are available in all the refugee camps, many women prefer the comfort of a home birth. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) assist with these births to ensure that the mother and child are safe. KWO encourages and advocates for TBAs in all 7 Karen camps and throughout Karen State. In Mae La Oon and Mae Ra Moe camps, KWO also provides direct material assistance and training to practising TBAs. Newly arrived TBAs from Karen State were given training as necessary to familiarise them with the use of all hygiene items.
TBA Committees: KWO helped to establish and organise regular meetings of TBA Committees in the two camps. The committees consisted of a TBA representative from each section. They met regularly to organise training, share information, solve problems and advocate for their role in the community.
Health awareness sessions: The project staff, collaborating with KWO, TBAs, TBA trainers and other health agency staff, ran health awareness sessions for women in the community. In 2009 – 2010, these were run once every two months throughout all sections in both camps (total 66 sessions) so as to reach the maximum number of women.
Record Keeping: In 2009 – 2010, KWO encouraged and assisted TBAs to increase record keeping of TBA assisted births in the camps.
Do the Kits help?
Naw Noe Noe, mother of three daughters and 2 two sons said:
“After I delivered my baby, I got a Baby Kit and it was invaluable for me and my child. The Baby Kit fulfilled my needs and really helped my family. In the past I never saw this kind of Kit. It contained many items and even included candles. I was so delighted and I even cried when I saw the Kits because I was so happy. I would like to thank everyone for providing us with a Baby Kit and hope that this process will continue in the future.”
Naw Hsa Wah, mother of three daughters and three sons said:
“I was given a Baby Kit after delivering my child. I was very pleased because the kit was very valuable to me. In the past I never cleaned my babies with soap after they were born. I cleaned them with leaves that I found in the forest that had foam which I used as soap. This is my first time I have been able to clean my baby with soap. I can see my baby is healthy. I really appreciate receiving the Kit and I would like to thank everyone for their kind support and I hope the project will continue in the future to help other mothers and babies too.”
Goal: To improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and newborn babies in Karen State KWO has supplied new mothers and babies with baby kits that comprise basic material needs for the mother and child within the first few months after birth. KWO also provides them with information on family and reproductive health issues.
In IDP areas: The Baby Kit project started being implemented in Karen State in June 2009. It is now in 6 districts: Mu Traw, Kler Lwee Htu, Du Ther Tu, Pa’an, Du Pla Ya and Tavoy. In IDP areas, the Baby Kits contain: 3 cotton nappies, 2 long bars of laundry soap,1 sarong, 2 bars of body soap, a health message pamphlet. For IDP areas, the district KWO staff source the materials and organise the kits themselves from local suppliers.
In Ei Tu Hta camp: The Baby Kit Project restarted in November 2010 after a period of suspension. The Baby Kits contain: 6 nappies, 5 kilos of laundry powder, 2 sets of baby clothes,1 sarong,4 bars of baby body soap, 5 bars of body soap for mothers, nail clippers, 12 packs of candles, a health message pamphlet.
Displaced women in conflict areas in Karen State are fleeing from violence around their homes, and cannot return. Cut off from the towns, they have little to no access to healthcare. With such poor access to health care, it is estimated that 721 mothers and 7,300 babies die for every 100,000 births in Eastern Burma (Back Pack Health Worker Team, (2010) Diagnosis: Critical: Health and Human Rights In Eastern Burma). This ranks amongst the highest maternal and neo-natal mortality rates worldwide. Within Karen State, KWO provides some health care and material assistance to pregnant women and new mothers, supplying basic hygiene kits for new mothers and their babies.
KWO supports traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who assist women who choose to give birth at home and we advocate on issues surrounding women’s, maternal and child health. We work with health agencies both in IDP areas and in the camps, raising health issues and concerns shared by women in the communities. KWO also communicates health messages to members of the community, especially on issues concerning reproductive and sexual health.
Although Health service provision is not KWO’s area of expertise, our position in the community means that we can aid health-care professionals and be effective advocates for positive change. This is true whether in refugee camps, in Karen State or at Central level. We organize and participate in community health education events such as World HIV Awareness Day, and at a more basic level set a good example for the community by maintaining public health standards through activities such as cleaning up rubbish in the streets and from the rivers. At Central level, KWO has run health, developmental and sexual education workshops with adolescent women; while in Camp, KWO members have conducted many health awareness workshops for community members.
Outside of these structured trainings, KWO seeks to spread general awareness of fundamental health education principles. This is done through more formal channels, such as school and dormitory visits, and also through informal home visits. Our integral and diverse roles in the community allow for continual monitoring of health standards. Such visits often combine health education with more general social care, and can be initiated due to previous concerns raised by a community member or colleague, or due to a chance discovery e.g. a child always having lice, or consistently seeing children playing in rubbish outside their home. Examples of our role in cases such as these would be to educate parents about basic hygiene, the use of soap, the importance of cleaning teeth, boiling water etc. and to provide these items if parents were financially unable to do so. We also routinely monitor women during pregnancy and beyond, make sure that they are informed about their own and their children’s nutritional and developmental needs, and provide items to aid them in this if necessary.
KWO provides “Baby Kits” to new mothers in Karen State. The kits help ease the first year of having a new child by provided nappies, soap, laundry powder, a new sarong, among other things. KWO leaders also provide education about caring for a newborn when the kit is delivered.