MCHAN 2nd National Coordination Meeting
While the HIV and AIDS Prevalence rate in Myanmar is low relative to neighboring countries, the risks of infection are increasing due to the gradual opening of its borders to foreign trade and subsequent cross border migration, both legal and illegal, especially to Thailand, China, India and Bangladesh. Local communities are also becoming exposed to growing presence of foreigners who have the potential of bringing the virus into the country.
To help combat the spread of HIV and AIDS, MCHAN partners with UNAIDS, INGOs, LOCAL NGOs, MINA and other networks. This has increased our means of promoting awareness by educating the youth and adults about HIV and AIDS and how to protect themselves from infection. With our joint effort, we are building awareness of individuals and whole communities; they are learning the truth about HIV and AIDS and are being empowered in making informed and responsible decisions for their lives to protect themselves and their loved ones
MCHAN Staff in consultation with our Advisors, Dr. Win Tun Kyi, KMSS National office and Dr. Soe Naing, UNAIDS, has been able to provide education on humnan sexuality, its sacredness, value and responsibilities: on safe migration and human trafficking: and also on child rights and child protection.
The 2nd Coordination meeting was held at CBCM, Yangon in July. Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho, Episcopal Health and Pastoral Care Comission Chair person, Bishop Stephen Tjephe, President of MCHAN; Fr. Christopher Raj, Director of KMSS-Lashio, Fr.Peter Myo Lwin, Secretary of Malamyaing Diocese, religious and lay representatives from10 dioceses who work in HIV program participated in the meeting .They shared experiences and challenges of their existing program to collectively find better solution to needs and problems. On the second day, all participants visited HIV/AIDS shelter in St.Edward Church', Mingaladon compound and the South Dagon NLD shelter. They met with the positive residents and aslo observed the care and support program. During the visit, MCHAN donated a much needed electrical transformer.
Building HIV Competent Church Workshop
By the kind invitation approval of Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho, the KMSS National HIV Program and MCHAN jointly organized a 2-day workshop for 41 priest from Pyay Diocese. Invited resource persons, Dr. Soe Naing from UNAIDS, Dr.Hla Htay and Daw Tin Tin Mar from Burnet Institude provided important information about HIV prevalence and prevention of mother to child infection.Fr. Christopher Raj shared about Catholic Social Teaching, on which all our members should be guided to wholeheartedly and effectively respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Myanmar.
The sessions ended encouragingly with the Proclamation by the Pyay diocesan priests and Bishop their deeper commitment to witness Gospel values of love and compassion for all affected by this epidemic.
Recent Program highlights
320 youths under Episcopal commission for youth received Prevention workshops on Migration, Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS including Sacredness of Human Sexuality sector in Yangon, Kawthaung and Loikaw.
35 sisters from different religious congregations received training on Migration, Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS, as well as Human Sexuality.
8 sisters from Myitkyina, Kachin State and Kawthaung, Mon State were provided awareness training on the guiding principles of Child Rights and Child Protection. Other participants in the same sessions were 52 care givers in Myitkyina and Kawthaung dioceses.
41 priests of Pyay diocese gained broader knowledge on HIV/AIDS and the way to respond based on Catholic teaching through the workshop of ''Building HIV Competent Church'' positively.
Migration, Human Trafficking related HIV/AIDS and Human Sexuality
As requested by the Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar, we facilitated the introductory training on Migration and Human Trafficking related to HIV/AIDS and Human Sexuality education for 35 Religious Sisters while they are having preparation in Yangon for their final vow.
3 similar workshops were given for 320 youth leaders from Loikaw, Mawlamyaing(Kawthaung) and Yangon Archdiocese in collaboration with Episcopal Commission for Youth. With these workshops, the participants gained a deeper awareness of the value of human sexuality, situations and impact of unsafe migration and related human-trafficking and HIV transmission - with the many negative consequences. During those sessions, the young people were able to explore their own experiences and perspectives and also suggest ways for further preventive measure through interactive ways of learning.
Once trained, they commited to share with others when they returne to their communities
by teaching young people to prevent HIV infections through unsafe migration, forced sex trade and engaging in risk behaviors. The majority of participants wanted to be able to put into practice among peers what they have learned.
Child Rights and Child Protection Training
All together 8 religious sisters, 29 care givers, working for HIV/AIDS infected and affected children with the Columban Sisters in Myitkyina and 23 Care givers from Catholic Church in collaboration with World Vision organization in Kawthaung were provided awareness training on Child Rights and Child Protection Policy.
Empowering Self Help Groups
MCHAN staff consistantly participated in Guiding Star Self Help Group( St. Edward's Parish, Mingaladone T/S) meetings and relevant events. During the meetings, our staffs facilitated the caring and sharing session to explore with members their feelings and challenges. Together the group sought solutions and provided opportunity and space to encourage each other.
Coalition with Internal and International network partners
The third conference of Catholic Asia-Pacific Coalition on HIV/AIDS (CAPCHA) was held in Bangkok 10-14, September.As per special-given opportunity, 7 representatives were invited from Myanmar: Bp.Stephen Tjephe(MCHAN President),, Bp.Francis Daw Tang( Myitkyina Diocese), Dr.Cho Lay Mar( MCHAN Vice- Prsident), Aye Aye( MCHAN National Coordinator), Julia Aye Thida (Asst. Coordinator), Dr.Richard Win Tun Kyi( Program Director, and Augustine Piang HIV Project manager, KMSS office.Other participants were representatives of Catholic organizations from 15 countries in Asia-Pacific Region working with HIV/AIDS Programs. The Catholic Church response on HIV/AIDS in Myanmar report was presented.
The MCHAN coordinator assisted in Pyay Diocese for the participatory project review meeting composed of Self Help group members, accompanied with HIV/AIDS Project manager, of KMSS -Pyay Diocese. On this one day session, The SWOT analysis method was used to explore the strength, weakness, opportunity and threat of their three year project implementation.At the end of the day, all participants were able to find out the achieved outcomes and some solutions for the improvement of future implementation.
During the visit of MCHAN coordinator in Kawthaung, some PLWHAs, under the support of the RNDM Sisters were facilitated to join with existing Self Help Group in Kawthaung which functioning well. This provided helpful experience and links to the Sisters and their group. These SHG members were provided training on OImanagement, prevention awareness to avoid infecting others and buliding self esteem for the better family life, so the new group availed of this opportunity.
Coordination and networking among Interfaith groups
MCHAN team make sure to maintain stronger networking and relationship with the Myanmar Interfaith Network on AIDS (MINA) by consistant participation in monthly meetings and other particular events. As an initiative of MINA, member started joint hospital visits, led by religious leaders from four different religions,accompanying with members of MINA.
Through this program, AIDS patients in Mingaladon and Thaketa hospitals appreciated the joint prayer and some nutrition support.Rev.Fr.Victor Nyan Myint participated in that program for the visit to Thaketa hospital.
During this quarter, MCHAN increased network partners and built stronger relationship with the National office of the Episcopal Commission for Youth, the RNDM Sisters in Kawthaung, who are working on HIV/AIDS response, The Marist Organization and World Vision Foundation of Thailand, Norwegian Church AIDS, World Vision Myanmar organization, Caritas Thailand and Caritas Switzerland toward further collaborative action steps. In addition, we continue to network with UNIAP, IOM, Save the Children and relevant government stake holders for further collaborative effort on Safe migration and anti-human trafficking especially as related to HIV issue.
Cooperative efforts for Publication
During this period, we, MCHAN and KMSS, successfully published the very helpful book for the people involved in HIV/AIDS care mission, the "Way of the Cross for Care Givers."This book came by the collective effort of Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho, Bishop Stephen Tjephe, Sister Mary Grenough, Fr. Christopher Raj, Augustine Piang and the MCHAN team.
Next month coming event:
World AIDS Day on 1st December to be observed.