From January 25th-30th of 2015, Nancy Jones, International Outreach Chairman at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, took part in a field visit to Myanmar’s UNICEF projects and saw first-hand how UNICEF works to help women and children through programs in education, health and nutrition, gender equality, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Nancy was able to meet UNICEF staff and partners and interact with women and children at schools and healthcare facilities. Below are Nancy Jones’ thoughts on her field visit to Myanmar:
“It was exciting to see the strides being made by UNICEF, the Myanmar government and the local people of Myanmar in saving the lives of Myanmar’s most vulnerable children. I was able to see the established health initiatives preventing and treating malnutrition. Additionally, I learned how training midwives to deliver healthy babies in rural villages is tremendously influential in averting maternal and child deaths. It was fascinating to learn about the Newborn Action Plan developed and understand how it is saving lives by preventing disease through administering immunizations.
During my visit, I was able to see, firsthand, how HIV testing and treatment of mothers and newborns allows for treatment from birth thus reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene are incremental steps toward better overall wellbeing for the people. We saw schools and villages with clean, safe running water made possible through the UNICEF WASH program. We witnessed a handwashing demonstration and then were taught the proper way to wash our hands by the students themselves. It was inspiring to see how WASH has made clean water available to rural villages and understand how UNICEF supported programs empowered the people of Myanmar. This was specifically noted while observing their excitement in portraying their water systems. Most importantly, such water systems mean children no longer have to haul water daily thus, keeping them in school.
UNICEF, in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), invested in social work case management programs which train and appoint three social work managers in 27 townships to strengthen the protection of child rights. Village councils have been established to address domestic violence and child abuse as well as other village crimes/problems. Domestic violence and child abuse statistics are dropping because of involvement at the local level. A child labor monitoring checklist has been developed to end forced child labor. Labor inspectors trained in children’s rights use the checklist in monitoring major industrial and manufacturing facilities.
Education, malnutrition, immunizations, clean water and exploitation are still concerns within Myanmar, however with UNICEF and the terrific staff they have on the ground, I have no doubt the goals they have set will be reached. Myanmar is a beautiful country and their children are deserving of a life free of fear, enjoy good health, education, a cohesive family, and a future of hope. I was privileged to see Myanmar as it begins to come out of its thirty years of the military junta and take its place in the world. UNICEF has been operational in Myanmar since 1950. For more than 60 years, UNICEF has been working to positively change the lives of Myanmar’s children. Through its strong working relationship with the Government of Myanmar over the decades and significant engagement with other stakeholders, UNICEF is positioning itself to continue and strengthen its efforts to improve children’s lives”.