Supporting displaced children in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Published: Jan 25, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Supporting displaced children in Myanmar’s Rakhine State
Internally displaced people (IDPs) living in makeshift camps, particularly children and their families, are more vulnerable to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and armed conflict. Reduced incomes or a complete loss of employment for daily wage earners has made life especially difficult for families at IDP sites in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. With funding from the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF), managed by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar, People in Need (PIN), together with community volunteers, is providing protection, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance to conflicted-affected children and their families at 11 IDP sites in Rakhine State’s Mrauk U Township. 

In addition, PIN has conducted a series of trainings for community volunteers, parents, and other caregivers on home-based psychosocial support, children’s rights, child protection, positive parenting practices, COVID-19 awareness, and mine risk education at the IDP sites and in host communities. One of the goals of the training has been to create a supportive and caring environment for children in vulnerable situations.

Ko Nyien Chan*, who lives at an IDP camp near Mrauk U Township, has been working as a community volunteer with PIN for more than two years. “Like me, many people at the sites have needed psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before I attended the home-based psychosocial support training, I was not able to control my anger and stress. We were shouting most of the time and the children were very vulnerable. After the psychosocial training, we know how to relieve stress and maintain our well-being. Also, COVID-19 prevention and awareness training is useful so we can protect ourselves and care for the children and elder people in the camps,” says Ko Nyien Chan.

Distribution of books and psychosocial kits

To promote the psychosocial well-being of children and facilitate healthy childhood development, PIN has also distributed 93 home-based psychosocial support kits and 214 “well-being at home” activity books to conflict-affected children. The kits provide a set of activities that children can do with their families to build their social skills and improve their overall well-being.

Daw Thein Thein*, mother of three, lives in one of Mrauk U Township’s IDP camps. She says: “I participated in every training that was conducted by community volunteers in the camps. I learned about good parenting practices and shared this knowledge with my family and my neighbours. I also received home-based psychosocial support; I got a PSS kit and books for my children. They are playing with the kits and happily reading the books.”

Daw Thein Thein expressed her gratitude to PIN: “PIN has provided many of us with essential items such as nylon rope, jerry cans, mosquito nets, cooking sets, blankets, sleeping mats, tarpaulins, 200-liter water storage kits, and hygiene kits. This assistance is very helpful for those of us living in the camps under harsh conditions. We thank PIN and its donors for supporting us, and we hope they will continue to support us in the future.”

Fighting COVID-19

As part of its work in Mrauk U Township, PIN distributed materials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including cloth masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and soap. Ko Nyein Chan says that the COVID-19 awareness sessions (as well as the psychosocial support trainings) are good for the community. “The participants were very active in the trainings, and they were never late. They asked for more information on children’s rights and child protection skills, as well as COVID-19 awareness and mental health support. They all need this kind of support urgently and it has been very helpful for them. After the training, they applied what they learned to their daily lives and supported their communities as much as possible.”

World Children’s Day

With the help of the community volunteers, PIN also facilitated small events on “World Children’s Day” at the different sites and in the surrounding host communities, as the region’s COVID-19 transmission rate was declining. As part of the events, PIN distributed UNCRC Day t-shirts to community volunteers, and child protection pamphlets, booklets, badminton sets, balloons, pins, crayons, and drawing papers to the children. The community volunteers and PIN field staff brought the children together to play games and participate in other activities for a fun-filled day.

*The names of certain individuals have been changed for their protection.

Autor: Aye Pyae Sone, PIN Myanmar Communication Officer

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