During harvest season, most of the 143 families in this village in central Myanmar can find enough work to make ends meet. But life sometimes turns into a fight for survival over the course of the rest of the year.
Children in the village are malnourished. Only a few households have a latrine, and poor sanitation and hygiene lead to illness.
The Samaritan’s Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene team in Myanmar is building latrines in this rural village to help prevent diarrhea and waterborne diseases. For one week, our staff taught about health and hygiene, built latrines, and showed families in this village love and compassion.
The village authority announced that Samaritan’s Purse had come to the village to offer hygiene training at the health center. Our staff explained the importance of proper sanitation in the household and throughout the village.
After the training, we visited homes in order to determine which families would receive latrines. A family’s need for a latrine is based on the number of people living in the house, the number of children under age five, and the household leader’s income.
Today our staff returned to the village and met with the beneficiary families. We wanted to find out what they remembered from yesterday’s hygiene training and give them an opportunity to ask questions.
A representative from each beneficiary family signed a contract promising to use the latrine correctly and keep it clean.
One of the family representatives we met with was a 12-year-old girl whose parents had to leave early for work. “Many families need the income of both parents to survive,” explained Rem, a Samaritan’s Purse staff member.
This morning our staff taught women in the village about menstrual health. Some women are afraid to leave their homes during their cycle, because they’ve never been taught about what is happening to their bodies or how to take care of themselves.
“If these women cannot leave their homes, they cannot go to work and their families suffer,” Rem said.
After the training, 55-year-old Khing shared her story with us. She has lived in the same village all her life, has three grown sons, and lives with her youngest son. Her family struggles to find consistent employment. When work is available, they are paid about $3 for an entire day’s work.
A few months ago, one of Khing’s daughters-in-law became very sick due to unsanitary conditions and was hospitalized several days. Khing plans to share with her daughters-in-law and family what she learned about good health and hygiene.
“I am grateful not only for the latrine, but also because we can have a happy, healthy family now that we know what we should do,” Khing said.
Bricks, concrete rings, and metal structures were delivered to the village so families could continue building their latrines. Our staff helped with instructions, but empowered families to take responsibility by allowing them to do most of the building.
Tonight, the families completed their latrine construction.
We visited homes and did final structural checks on the latrines. As we were leaving, Khing asked to talk with Rem.
“I wish so badly that I could welcome you into my house for food, but we do not have much,” she said. “I am worried that you would not like to be in our house because it is not very clean.”
Rem looked into her eyes and smiled. “Do not worry,” she said. “We are here because we want you to be well.”
We asked Khing about her hopes and dreams for her children. Khing said she wants them to be free. “I hope one day they will have enough food to donate to the monastery to make their spirit free.” The population of Myanmar is 88 percent Buddhist.
Our staff listened to stories like Khing’s throughout the week. With every latrine and every hygiene training, our goal was to bring hope and health to Khing’s family and other families in the village.
Please pray for our teams to bring physical and spiritual relief to the people of Myanmar. Pray that we would be tangible expressions of Christ's love to families of this Southeast Asian nation. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).