The H4SS response to the Covid-19 pandemic

 While the published numbers of confirmed cases of Covid 19 in Myanmar are low, it is to be expected that the disease will spread in Myanmar as it has elsewhere.  The government is taking precautions such as cancelling public festivals, spacing queueing places at official buildings, and building temporary hospitals.  A programme of support for poor families has been announced too, though implementation is, as yet, not consistent.

 

 The families of our students are typically, illiterate, landless, with precarious health, and work for daily payment as labourers.  They are among the poorest in Myanmar and, with child earnings contributing significantly to family income, we are acutely aware of their vulnerability both to economic disruption, and the impact of the Corona virus.  There is no welfare state and so if a parent falls ill or dies it becomes all the harder for the family keep their children in education.

 

 As to our response, H4SS has already been:

  • preparing health education materials and using parent education sessions to emphasise the importance of social distancing and washing,
  • training children to wash their hands in the WHO-approved way (see the video to the right->),
  • arranging for the social work we do to continue safely,
  • providing food and hygiene hampers which include soap, tissues, protective equipment (as available), and staple foods, in some cases delivered to children's homes. 

 We have a social work bursary to cover health problems, house repair etc, and S4SK will be boosting this to cover additional medical bills and help impoverished families survive.

 

 As to education, the 2020-21 school year begins in June.  On the assumption that there will be government advice regulating ways in which schools can function during the first half of the school year, our teachers and mentors are preparing self-study worksheets so that, even it class days are reduced, children will be able to study at home. 

 

 The Learning Centre is key to ensuring that our students can achieve long enough in education to make a real difference to their careers.  It provides them with somewhere to live and study without the pressure of earning at the same time.  To keep students as safe as possible we have used the last weeks of the school year to raise awareness of the pandemic, and promote good habits of personal hygiene among students. 

 

 The modalities of reopening for the next school year will be decided within the context of the anticipated government guidelines for all educational institutions.  At this stage we can be clear that social distancing, handwashing stations, and provision of masks for all (many of which our sewing students will make) will be essential.

 

 In addition, we have adjusted our Poverty Alleviation Programme so that, for the time being, savings are deposited and decisions made in ways that respect social distancing.

 

 If you have not done so already, please take the time to view the two short films on our homepage at: www.s4sk.org.uk, which show the stories of the some of our students and their families and also give an insight into our classes and the wonderful relationships the teachers have with the children and their families. 

We are especially grateful for donations in such an uncertain times.  Please help us if you can.

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