March 1, 2011
The following information is about Shwechinthae Social Service Group, a charity organization opened at Shwechinthae monastery in Shwe Bo city in Sagaing division. After thoroughly reading the organization’s papers and records, asking patients and volunteers, I wrote this article mainly focusing on itself and its activities without mentioning the names of present activists of its.
The Beginning of the Beginning
Shwechinthae library was opened on 18.12.2000. Members of library who were graduates, but had no occupation, launched a free teaching program for 10th standard students who cannot afford schooling.
The Charity of Knowledge: About Health-Care
Around 2001, the death toll caused by AIDS mounted; so the organization copied, printed, and delivered 15000 pamphlets to the targeted youths of between 15 and 30 years of age, as a plan to educate them about the danger of HIV/AIDS in local Kahtain festival. Then the association extended its operation by making copies of “100 Questions & Answers to HIV/AIDS” book published by UNICEF and distributed these among taxi and trishaw stands, barber-shops, and beauty parlors.
Trainings and Seminars
First, the physician in charge of the venereal disease and AIDS eradication centre, along with two doctors from Shwechinthae library, organized the designated groups of trishaw workers, taxi drivers, construction workmen, youths from car services, lathe workshop workers, those who have many sexual partners, and students. Then an AIDS education training which was given once a week and lasting 6 months was given to those groups one after another.
For the time being, the organization is conducting a variety of health-care trainings and workshops for sex-workers, AIDS patients, volunteers, teenagers and youths.
After having contacts with PSI(Population Service International) of Mandalay in 2002, the association carried out its activities such as showing AIDS education films in various festivals and events, delivering free condoms in the Thingyan water festival (where many people usually come), educating sex-workers, and organizing seminars, inviting all those who are interested in both cities and rural areas.
At the same year when the organization received 100 copies of “100 Questions & Answers to AIDS,” 50 copies of “Conseling Note,” and 50 copies of “Health Worker’s Manual” from Yangon head-office of AIDS eradication, it requested about 100 members of Shwechinthae library to perform the task that each of members had to persuade 15 people into reading those books.
With the support of UNICEF, the association overachieved its target of educating people about HIV/AIDS in all the eight townships in Shwe Bo district, including all schools and universities, book shops, barber shops, brothel houses, police stations, sex workers, AIDS sufferers and their families, workshops, and markets. Its efforts even successfully reached oil fields of Shwe Taw of the Thapaitkyin township and the Kyunhla township in the Mandalay division, as well as university hostels in Shwe Bo and Monywar. Members of Shwechinthae library volunteered their services for those movements.
Care Homes for Patients
Aside from town centre events, the organization opened an anti-AIDS display room and held public talks, cartoon and essay contests, quizes, and seminars of finding ways to wipe out AIDS continuously in the pagoda festival, celebrated at the outer corner of city and attended by many people from various regions. Thus the AIDS patients, themselves, admitted that they had been suffering from HIV/AIDS and joined hands in these education activities in 2005. Later, an opportunistic infection program was started in 3 clinics of the group member’s physicians, with the initial fund of nine hundred thousand kyat donated by 4 well-wishers. To date, the group has been given treatments for 370 AIDS sufferers. There are 27 patients who are children receiving medical care in these clinics.
From 2007 to 2010, the association carried out ‘Care and Support’ project for patients in collaboration with International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The group was able to persuade sex workers and AIDS patients into participating in SHG (Self Help Group) and to manage counseling services and training frequently. The group also tried to seek donors for the ARV drug, especially for orphans and widows who have many children.
Now, as ARV drugs are available at Mandalay General Hospital, the organization helps the patients by providing free transportation [to the hospital] and transport costs for those who cannot afford. About 67 patients were received or have received this type of support. 36 AIDS sufferers have already got the ARV drug.
Hygienic Blood Donors
In 2006, the clean blood donor group was formed. They donated blood only after testing for Hepatitis B/C and HIV, 3 months in advance, in order to reduce the risk of infection via the blood transfusion. Up to now, the association has been able to organize 750 clean blood donorations. They have been donating about 100 packages of blood to local hospital and about 10 packs to other clinics, needed monthly after setting up a network with other blood donor groups. In this year of2011, an electric and solar powered blood bank was constructed and blood was donated to local hospital as the people’s good deeds, initiated by Shwechinthae Social Service Group.
Other Educational Training and Care of Vagrant Children
The organization also offered the following classes and trainings to those needed:
-Classes for 10th standard students and Burmese culture course in summer holidays, and the lecture on Abidammha , the doctrine of the Buddha (which lasts 5 months) since 2001.
-Japanese and English language classes since 2002.
-Basic electronic knowledge training since 2007
-Painting class for children in 2008. All are free of charges.
In 2008, the organization tried to open a school for the children who are treated as social outcasts and have lost their future. Then, UNICEF came and gave them CRC training. Later, some members of the association went on a study tour to World Vision and UNICEF, in Mandalay. World Vision gave a lecture on opening that intended school. Finally, the association was able to establish ‘Shwechinthae Child Development Centre (SCDC).
Peaceful Homes for Parentless Children
The course of NFE (Non-Formal Education) and trainings regarding building life skills, arts, and sports are being proportionately taught to the vagrant children, most of them addicted to alcohol, tobacco, betel, and drugs. There are currently 210 registered children including 60 day-pupils, 30 of which are boarders there. Sport trainings, like football, are being given to the children, especially for drug addicts as a substitute plan.
During 2009-10, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance proposed the plan to extend the OVC project (Orphan Vulnerable Children), and Shwechinthae group collaborated with it on collecting the list of OVC, coming up wiht 932 children who are orphaned and vunerable in the whole city.
Shwechinthae Social Service Group (SSSG) provided, is providing, and will provide these activities presented above, by relying on various donations and contributions.
Shwechinthae Social Service Group (SSSG), Shwe Bo City, Sagaing Division.
See more photos and records here.
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