August 21st, 2013
New Developments: Shan Women’s Action Network – Women’s Crisis Support Programme
Shan State in Burma borders China, Laos and Thailand and has a population of approximately 5 million. However due to the violent persecution of ethnic nationals by the Burmese authorities many Shan people have been forced to flee Shan State to neighbouring Thailand. The number of Shan refugees in Thailand has been estimated at a shocking 2 million. With support from other NGO’s, between 2001 and 2007, SWAN set up two women’s crisis shelters to help refugee women and children. The programme assists with food, clothing, shelter and access to legal services. Health and counselling services are also provided, and women staying at the shelters are given basic skill training in literacy and handicraft.
During 2012, the WCSP provided many services to women and children; documenting patient’s information, conducting outreach work, following up former patients, admitting women to the crisis shelter and hospital, and referring them to other NGOs if necessary. The dedicated staff at SWAN have had to be available at all times in case of emergency.
Between July and December, WCSP helped 108 women and children, with over 30 staying at the crisis shelters. Staff regularly helped patients to travel to and from the hospital for appointments and treatment, and assisted in translation. Often staff had to work closely with local social welfare, especially when it came to medical costs, which can be particularly difficult when fees are so high for sufferers of TB and HIV.
The staff of SWAN’s WCSP are extremely committed to the health and wellbeing of the women and children they look after. As part of their regular duties, they accompany patients to hospital, help organise funerals, follow up old patients as well as teaching patients about issues of contraception, HIV, basic health care and sanitation through talks and weekly radio broadcasts. The WCSP centres also organise relevant activities on days such as International Women’s Day, International Migrants Day and International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women. Lastly, SWAN has provided handicraft vocational training for Shan women, as well as other hill tribes. This has been hugely successful with up to 30 women attending and the products have been a great success in the local towns.
Project monitoring and evaluation plays an important role at SWAN. In January 2012 a meeting was set up whereby SWAN’s project advisors and management team evaluated the roles and activities of their staff and programme coordinators. As a result, it was decided the programme coordinators would carry on health discussions within the local communities and a weekly meeting would be held to exchange news of their work. In addition, a plan was drawn up of weekly activities for staff at the crisis shelters.
The desire of the staff at SWAN to continue improving their Women’s Crisis Support Programme for the future, reflects their awe inspiring dedication to providing the best possible care. We wish them the best with their continuing work for some of Burma’s most vulnerable women and children.
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