Blog

Baby Kits for Displaced Women in Burma

2007-01-30 ~ 2008-01-29
Agency: Karen Women’s Organisation
US$8,600

The distribution of baby kits to mothers about to give birth in Karen State, Burma, has proved very successful despite problems resulting from the instability of the region. In the last year kits were distributed to more than one thousand women. In many areas it was difficult to carry kits due to traveling and security problems.

RIJ funding provided cash for district staff to purchase the items for the kits inside Burma.Each basic kit cost about 250 baht (850 yen) and contained 1 sarong, body soap for mother and baby, laundry soap and a health message; most of them also included 3 nappies (wraps) for the baby. If the mother was illiterate, staff read the health message to them. In many cases, the mothers had been forced to flee their villages and give birth while hiding in the forest.

Results

2410 baby kits were bought which, when added to stock, allowed for a total of 2812 baby kits to be distributed to mothers with young babies in 8 camps over the year. The kits contained: 6 cotton nappies, 5 kilos of laundry soap, 6 bars of body soap for the mother, 3 bars for the baby and a health message. Along with the health message women were instructed in good health practice for mother and baby. Through data collection it was found that overall there has been an increased awareness of health, thus giving baby a better start as well as a reduction in the economic burden of starting a new family in the areas where mothers received baby kits.

Comments from two mothers

A: “While we are living in poverty we don’t have enough clothes or food or shelter. We have to move from here to there. In this time we received a gift so it made us feel so happy. Even if we received only a piece of cloth and a bar of soap, I feel so happy and I feel like somebody cares for me and is willing to help me, even to go through all the obstacles to get to me. So I felt very encouraged. I hope you will continue this project for other women.”

B: “While the enemy came and shot in my village we all had to run away quickly. I only had time to pick up my baby and nothing else. The SPDC burnt down my village and I lost all my belongings. I felt so sad. I have only the clothes I was wearing at the time. We lived in the forest under the trees for one month. Then I received a Baby Kit so I felt very happy. It made me strong and my mind and heart became stronger and encouraged.”

Training was provided to community staff and village leaders on health, security, monitoring and reporting.