Waymaker Trust Activities Update April 2023
Message from Lyna
The military coup in Myanmar on February 1st 2021 and the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has turned life in Myanmar upside down. In the last two years since February 2021, the military destroyed many years of progress in Myanmar. Many women, children, youth, old people have been killed, many people including women and children were burned alive, many houses and villages including churches, schools and community centres were destroyed and burned down completely, many women are raped, tortures and killed by the military, and indescribable difficulties are added to their lives but they are brave enough to fight back those inhuman actions committed by the military, the women and children could be the most affected by the coup and they are struggling every day, to escape from the brutal military, they are struggling to feed and to save their own lives, their family, their children (their babies) and their belongings.
Many women and children are in IDPs and refugees’ camps without proper shelter, food, healthcare and education while most of the men are either force to fight against the military by joining with People Defence Force (PDF) or force to leave the country for labour work to neighbouring countries. We never know who might return back home safely, many men might not come back home alive, or they might never come back to their home, to their family or community. And above all, the military continue to use air strikes every day to kill the innocent people and our dead bodies could not be even recognisable because all their body parts are separated by the bomb. We are the people without hope of future, living with fears and with all kinds of shortage of life in our own place as well as in the border locations around neighbouring countries.
Our vision is for women to be transformed above their current situation. And our ambition for the coming years is to extend our works “to support, protect, prepare and give hope to the women and strengthen them to be able to stand on their own feet, and to build an alternative sustainable future and supporting them to participate in leading role for repairing of building a stronger future generation for themselves, their family, their community and country as a whole”. The support from individuals and partners from international charities and local women networking is the most important for us. We have three main Programmes: Women Livelihoods, Women Governance and Women Rescue Aids. Our programmes are set to respond to the challenges faced by women during this difficult time, that includes continued violence and disruption countrywide, mass displacement of people, and the continued closure of livelihood opportunity, health, educational and capacity building opportunities in all the regions across the country.
Thank you to my dear friends and family for supporting me to do this amazing work, because of your support we have seen many positives impacts to our women and community.
Tailoring/ Sewing Training Project
We have many purposes for providing sewing training for the women in the rural community; and some of our main purposes are;
- – To build the capacity of our women’s skill: Sewing training is very expensive to afford by rural women, because it is only available in town or city like Hakha (capital city of Chin State) or Yangon. Even travel costs to those places are high enough and the training fees and living costs during training become almost impossible for women from rural villages. Only a few women in our Mara community have this sewing skill with good quality and high experience (they are the women who are providing the training for our current training project). Another fact is that since only a few people know how to sew, there is no sewing machine available to buy or use either. Just one or two or even no sewing machines in some village. Therefore, we provided this training with low cost with the same quality of the city. In the city 3 months course will cost 1.5 to 2 million MMK per/head, but we take only two hundred thousand only per/head to purchase basic training materials which they need to use during their training course with the same quality course.
- – To reduce the costs of our clothes: Since we cannot sew our own clothes, everything we wear has to be purchased from the towns or city with very high cost. Our daily wage does not even enough to buy a school uniform for one child. Women have to work continuously a week to buy one of her child school uniforms. Therefore if our community women can sew clothes, we can reduce at least half of our money that goes out to the town/city shops including all the transportation costs. For example, what we bought with 5000 MMK outside can be made with 1500-2000 MMK with our hands.
- – Our overall goal is to see at least one woman in every house knows how to sew in our rural community. We will continue this project until we achieved our goal.
The Trainees (Students)
We have completed the 3rd batch of our training for 35 women and currently we are training 19 women in the 4th batch. In total we have trained 54 women from 12 villages. Some of the women from 1st and 2nd batches students are becoming our junior trainer for the 3rd and 4th batches students as well. Our aim for the coming year is to train 120 women per year.
The Trainers (Project Leaders)
We have 3 main trainers who are full time workers and 5 senior experts’ trainer who help us as part time (one person per day) along with our junior trainers. And we have 2 men who help us in all general administration and assistant works. The two men help us in fixing the machine, lifting heavy things, driving motor bikes, travelling to invite trainees, setting up the training centre and supporting any purchase of training materials.
Tailoring/ Sewing Machines
We don’t have our own sewing machines before, we borrowed or hired from the local community and we have many problems but now we have our own facilities and in our training centre we have brand new tailoring machines purchased recently with funds from a charity in Guernsey.
Basic Training Materials:
Before we cannot afford to buy clothes, so we used papers and old clothes for learning, but now WMT have provided us clothes for learning. We can wear ourselves and sell our product with cheap price for the local people, so that other trainee batches can continue to learn.
Case stories (Testimonies)
Ms N is from the first batch trainees. She has a younger sister and mother, her father passed away. She is from a small town in southern Chin State and now she become a trainer for the 3rd and 4th batches. She said, “ I am confident enough to open my own tailoring shop after attended Women’s Sewing training course” I have sewed over 100 clothes since my training. My training at this programmes helped me and my family a lot, because I have obtained the skill to earn some income for our living. I was studying my 2nd year at university but due to the military coup, I cannot continue my study and for me this training course is a huge opportunity.
I was born in one village but now live in another village. As I am a wife of pastor, I come to this training with full of hope that it will enable me to gain a useful skill to help and support our people during this difficult times, and I believed that this training course will enable me to do my ministry more affectively. As I hope this training programme exceed my expectation and I feel really good, the trainers are so wonderful, we have many shortage in terms of training centre space, materials but the women group help us everything they could so I am so grateful. I am able to sewing clothes now and I am wearing my own hand made clothes all the time.
I am the head of this training project, and I am the main trainer as well. Lyna once told me that “one day we will do something for the women in Mara community”, and I cannot forget her words, because of her, from that time onward, I started planning, organizing women group and began this training project last year. Lyna is our inspiration and supporter since the beginning of this project. I have worked for this training project since the beginning till today without getting any single money from it. I have my own family, my husband works in the farm, came back home late, my children are boys, they all need me so much at home to cook, to do the house works, but I was not able to do any of my family work for the last year including many different challenges and difficulties during our training programmes, and our country situations. But my husband and children are kindly supporting what we are doing and we are so happy when we see that our tireless work is very successful and getting improving. My team are so happy when we heard that WMT are providing for sewing machines and continue to support us. I cannot even express my full heart of joy and happiness when I saw all your support. Thank you for supporting us, we will never give up this work until we succeed our goal, and we have promised that nothing can stop us doing this training as long as we live!
My heart is overflowing with gratitude for supporting us! I am now going to be 60 years old, I have been a President of M.Ch.P which means (Mara Women Organization) branch in my home town for many years and I never come across anyone generously supporting us and asking us what we even want to do or can do. Lyna came and told us to do something that we have given up for many years. She stands with us and stands for us to get back our own training centre from local authority and now we have overcome all those challenges and at the same time our works become a hope for our community especially women. Our hard works brings peace and mental health for some of hopeless women and girls. We are now very confident to defence ourselves, and we love our job very much and are very confident to increase peace and development for our community. I have led this project along with Mrs. N and other team members as President with everything I can, and so far I don’t have any regrets I rather see our success beyond our expectations. I travelled myself to get the sewing machines and our training equipments because I am so happy. We cannot wait to reach our centre and set up our new facilities and tell the people around about all these wonderful stories!
Mr. LT and Mr. NL
At the beginning our community laughed at us because we help and support our women’s activities. But we decided to join and work with them because we know their works are wonderful and so important for our community. We want to ask WMT to continue to support us and do more activities for our community where we can fully participate to deliver to the beneficiaries. We will be taking responsibility for delivery of Childbirth Delivery Kits and other WMT activities in the ground. We have decided to work with you all as much as possible. We strongly hope that one day our community will be a strong community because our women could do many things, when women are empowered, everyone in the family and community are also been empowered!
Production of Childbirth Delivery Kits (CDKs) for pregnant women
We produce this clean delivery kits in order to encourage the pregnant women during their difficult time, some of them are in the camp as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and some are in the small village without nurse, clinic or hospital. We can imagine how much they will feel scared and worried, therefore we produce this to help them lift up their spirit at least a few moments from their worries and pains. The items included in kits are; cotton bag, baby napkins, warm thick and thin sheets for wrapping the baby, soap, oil, powder, gloves, blade, cord clamp, face mask, sanitary pads and the total cost is just $6 per pack/bag.
These kits are distributed to the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and to pregnant women themselves in remote villages all over Chin State including to IDPs in refugees camps who are affected by the military coup. The coup has affected everyone but most importantly those who are in Chin State are force to flee from their homes as the military burned down whole towns and villages.
Air strikes are killing people and no more transportation is available to get anything we need from the town. Even basic needs of daily life are hard to access and women are the most worried people for themselves, their babies, their children, their young sons, their husband in this situation. We hope and aim to produce more CDKs, and also dignity kits and family daily needs package for women and children in the future. We estimated the costs containing the items for $15 per bag to include more items.
Currently we have produced around 50 pack/bags and we still need many more bags to be able to provide for as many pregnant women and TBAs around Chin State and Mizoram border locations as possible.