The Christian Leprosy Mission of Eastern Shan

Health and Hope in Lailenpi Town, Chin State    

The Waymaker Trust in Maraland

Having visited Myanmar several times in recent years, Dr Nick has built up a good working relationship with a number of locally based charities there. Despite the military coup on February 1st 2021 he has kept in touch with those contacts and we very much hope we will be able to continue offering them support in their ongoing struggle for a better life in the months and years ahead. We are therefore pleased to report that in March 2023 the committee approved a grant to help the Waymaker Trust provide new sewing machines and other start-up equipment for a vocational tailoring project aimed at disadvantaged women in Chin State many of whom have been displaced from their homes and villages by the military juncta (see Spring 2023 news update).

Dr Nick first travelled to Myanmar with Claudine in 2017 to Eastern Shan State to see a project sponsored by Guernsey and implemented by CLMES that had provided clean water, a hydro-electric power supply and new primary schools in 4 remote Lahu hill-tribe ‘leprosy’ villages. Before leaving they were told that the grant had been insufficient to build a school at another hill-tribe village called Salabo (above) so they undertook to fund that themselves.

In 2019 Dr Nick was able to return to Salabo village to officially open the new school and he then went on to visit Mawlamyine Leprosy Hospital where through the Leprosy Mission the people of Guernsey had provided funding for a new operating theatre and various pieces of equipment. On the same trip he made the long and arduous 48 hour journey to Lailenpi Town in Chin State close to the border with India in conjunction with the charity Health and Hope. Guernsey has a long association with Lailenpi and over the years it has funded several projects there including a hydro-electric power plant and a medical clinic called the ‘Hope Clinic’ where Dr Nick was based. As well as seeing patients he took part in training sessions with the local doctors, nurses and Area Co-ordinators who supervise the many community village health workers supported by Health and Hope across southern Chin and northern Rakhine State. During the rainy season this part of Myanmar is very prone to cyclonic storms. In 2015 Guernsey was able to provide emergency food aid following severe flooding in the region and again in 2017 it provided disaster relief in the wake of Cyclone Mori that caused widespread devastation and completely destroyed Health and Hope’s original training hall. Since then with help from both Guernsey and Jersey a brand new training and education centre has been built.

In 2020 Dr Nick made a further visit to Lailenpi and again he spent time seeing patients in the Hope Clinic and mentoring the local primary healthcare team. Before he left he laid the foundation stone for a new accommodation block that will be used in conjunction with the rebuilt training centre.

Chin State is one of the poorest and least developed states in Myanmar. More than 70% of the population live in poverty and are malnourished. It is predominantly Christian and the main ethnic group are the Mara people who straddle the border with Mizoram in northeastern India. Since his last trip Dr Nick has been involved in setting up the Waymaker Trust, a new charity designed to act as a catalyst for change in Maraland especially in the field of women’s development and empowerment where many women still face a lifetime of poverty and injustice. With our support the Trust was planning to start it’s mission with a project to repair and re-equip a run-down school building in the village of Lung Cawi (see our Autumn 2020 news update). Unfortunately following the military coup many of the villagers have had to flee across the border into India where they are now living as refugees. Efforts to improve life for the Mara people in Chin State are sadly on hold but our thoughts and prayers are still very much with them and through our contacts we have been able to provide direct emergency relief to some of the displaced families.