Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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After a decade of working in Myanmar, ChildFund is taking pause to reflect, celebrate, and look to the future.

“Reaching 10 years of working with children and families in Myanmar is such a significant milestone. We know there is still plenty of work to be done. In the coming years we’ll continue to look at how we can best support children and young people to be safe, healthy, educated and contributing to their communities,” said Win May Htway, ChildFund Myanmar Country Director.

Here are ten key achievements from the last ten years:

Working safely

Since establishing ourselves in Myanmar, we have worked hard to implement policies and procedures that allow us to work safely and transparently.

Programs with impact

At ChildFund Myanmar, we work across all program areas: child protection, education, and youth resilience. Through these areas we look to improve gender equality, build relationships with local partners, and encourage youth to have a contributing role in their society.

Worked with local partners

The community knows best what they need to create a healthy environment for children and young people. This process allows us to design and implement programs in working together with the community and ensures sustainable change for those who live there.

Online safety in community and in schools

In 2019, ChildFund started its first ever online safety training sessions for children and young people in the country. As part of the Resilience Adolescents with Integrated Life Skills project in Dawei, ChildFund is running 21 training sessions in 10 state schools to educate students on issues such as cyberbullying, oversharing online and how to search for reliable sexual and reproductive health information.

Read more.

Supporting youth community leadership

ChildFund believes in empowering children and youth so they can reach their full potential. Our youth empowerment program is training young people on valuable life skills, through workshops, coaching and hands-on leadership practice. Participants in the program have gone on to become Youth Ambassadors in their communities and leaders in local youth groups. Youth groups in project villages across the country were provided with funding to undertake community development projects in collaboration with village elders.

Learn more about youth leadership throughout COVID-19,

Kept children safe at home

ChildFund established child protection groups in different villages. These groups were used to identify cases of family violence and offer counselling sessions to resolve family conflict. By identifying these cases, more children have been able feel safe at home.

Read more.

Responded to the COVID-19 pandemic

ChildFund supported hospitals and healthcare services to implement COVID-19 preventative measures so that frontline staff could take care of themselves and patients in the community. To ease the economic burden on vulnerable children and families, ChildFund also distributed food packages in Yangon. Vital health information was also shared through conversations with families, distributing pamphlets and videos, and through community announcements. Our trained volunteers explained how members of the community could protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19.

Improved access to education

Education for out-of-school children in Myanmar

ChildFund began running non-formal education classes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Yangon. Projects like this have helped more children, including those living with a disability, to access a quality education.

Read the story here

Empowering girls and women

ChildFund have run projects to ensure girls and young women have the tools to decide the course of their futures. The project is helping to empower young girls in disadvantaged communities in Myanmar, through sport and leadership and life skills training. 

In addition to learning and playing volleyball to stay healthy and develop their team and leadership skills, the project also teaches girls how to plan for their futures, manage money and drive positive social change in their communities. It also provides safe spaces where girls can feel supported.

Read the story.

Building relationships in Myanmar

Through our work and programming, we have built strong relationships with other INGOs working in the country. These partnerships help to deliver the best possible programs we can for children and young people across Myanmar.

Together we are stronger. Looking to the future, we will continue to ensure more children in Myanmar can say: “I am safe. I am educated. I contribute. I have a future.”

Learn more about our work in Myanmar.

Ko Htet lives in a small, coastal town in rural Myanmar. He is a clever, happy young boy who is passionate about learning. After two years of being unable to go to school, he now has the opportunity to return to learning through ChildFund Myanmar’s education program.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state schools have closed and the ongoing political unrest has added further disruption to children’s education. This meant that children around the country were forced to learn at home the best they could, with whatever resources they had available to them.

While at home, many children are expected to help their parents in their work and in the home and some children spend their time idly.

“My parents work at the fishery. I have to help my parents’ works. It is also the same for other children in this area – they also have to help their parents’ work,” said Ko Htet.

Although some families could arrange individual tutoring, most could not afford the added expense.

One concerned parent said: “Because of COVID-19 and the political situation, our child had to stop their education and spent most of their time staying home and playing online games. We were unhappy with this situation. Now our child can continue learning with this education program.”

ChildFund worked in consultation with local partners to identify opportunities for children to access an education. The education program opened small informal classrooms across the country so that children could safely return to learning. “Because of no learning for about two years, I’d forgotten many of the lessons I’d learned. I could only just recall the lessons when my teacher now, reminded me,” said Ko Htet.

ChildFund and its partners trained local volunteers to conduct the lessons and run the informal classrooms. These volunteer teachers are trained in teaching numeracy and literacy, and encouraging play. They are bridging the gap in education that children have missed out on these last few years while getting them ready for the new academic year starting in June.

“Since our teacher is very good at teaching, I improved my general knowledge, and could recall about the lessons I’d forgotten. The lessons we are studying now are different to the lessons we learnt before at school. We learn to read, and learn the lessons by playing – I think the lessons we study are better,” said Ko Htet.

With COVID-19 cases still rising across the country in early 2022, disrupting education and limiting access to health care, the informal classes are socially distanced and each child has access to a face mask or shield.

“The teacher also gave us school bags, pencils, exercise books, drawing crayons, erasers, face shield, mask and hand sanitisers. We are also taught through playing and I am so happy to learn in this way.”

ChildFund has been supporting and encouraging children that cannot attend in person, to attend online. But with unreliable electricity and internet connectivity, this has proved to be challenging.

The program supported the volunteer teachers with the skills to support the mental wellbeing of their students. They will be able to support children and young people in their classrooms overcome any psychosocial challenges they face as a result of the prolonged schools closures and COVID-19 lockdowns.

For children like Ko Htet, being able to attend the informal classrooms has been an exciting opportunity and signals a return to normal life. “I’m so happy that I can attend class again.”

As the school academic season has started in June. This program has completed its support in May to more than 1,300 students and 40 teachers from eight different Regions and States.