Training reached over 500 new mothers in Karen state

February 20, 2024

From 26 August to 3 September 2023 an REI team of Jane Best, Yasuko Elison and Gavin Dixon visited three projects funded by REI on the Thai-Myanmar border.

One of these projects is the Health Training for new mothers in Karen state, Myanmar and we met the hard-working, brave Karen women who take great risks to reach the displaced communities so they can distribute kits and conduct health awareness training to new mothers. 
The road access is poor and the women often have to walk carrying their equipment. They must avoid landmines and army patrols to ensure safe passage. One woman described how she waited in the jungle for three days until the soldiers had moved on to patrol other areas.

The women reported that they have been able to successfully provide health training and distribute 575 Baby Kits in 7 Districts and one IDP camp in Karen state in the last six months.

For the health training the main topics covered are: 

  • Nutrition for mother, baby and family
  • Hygiene for mother, baby and family
  • Good health and support for women during Pregnancy, Delivery, and Maternity.

Understanding nutrition is particularly valued by the mothers. Many participants reported that they typically consumed only one food group per meal. Sometimes this was due to a lack of food, but sometimes even when more food is available, there is a lack of knowledge about good nutrition especially for pregnant and lactating women.  

The project activities also benefit people’s mental health as many women reported that the training and the baby kits are beneficial not only for babies but for the entire family because the kit made them feel happy to get some practical support while they live in such troubled times. 

A 27-year-old mother said: “This helped me gain valuable knowledge about personal hygiene, nutrition for pregnant women, babies, and maternity. The training was beneficial and encouraged all pregnant women to go to the clinic if possible.”

A 43-year-old mother said: “In the past, I believed that preparing baby clothes before delivery was not essential, but now I changed my belief, and I understand that being ready and prepared in advance will benefit my newborn.”