A great start for children in the remote villages of Ayeyarwaddy Delta


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© 2009 Carlos Vasquez
Myanmar 2009.

By Sandar Linn

DAEDAYAE, Myanmar, 30 March 2011 – Mary Myint, a six year old girl with a infectious big smile, warmly greets her friends, teachers, visitors at the Zalet Kone village’s Early Childhood Development (ECD)centre in Daedayae Township, Ayeyarwaddy Division.

Children leave the ECD centre at five years but Mary Myint is an exception. She suffered developmental delay due to lack of proper nutrition and care as a newborn. Then she needed to stay over her age of five years. Mary Myint comes to the centre everyday with her mother, Daw Than Nwet, 40, by boat from their home across the river.

Daw Than Nwet admits that taking her daughter to the centre everyday is not an easy job, however, she has been doing it for a year now and is determined to continue what is needed until she sees major changes in Mary’s growth. “That my daughter can walk and talk now is a miracle in itself.

“She also sings songs and tells stories that truly fill our home with joy and laughter,” said Daw Than Nwet, a mother of four, as her eyes welled up with tears.

Daw Naw Le Htoo Whar, 29, an ECD teacher at the village ECD centre agrees with Daw Than Nwet on the progress made by Mary Myint since joining the centre.

“I still remember how it was when Mary Myint first came to the centre. She could not walk or talk. She acted timid and afraid in front of people, defecated openly and her hygiene behavior was very poor,” she said.

With patience and persistence, Daw Naw Le Htoo Whar and other ECD teachers at the centre, worked on Mary Myint’s case in every way possible. She is now an example to the community of children participating in ECD programmes who register improvements in health, cognitive abilities and social and personal skills.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1037/Markisz
UNICEF Early Childhood Development (ECD) kit.

Daw Naw Le Htoo Whar, a mother of two, joined the centre as an assistant in 2008 when the former facilitator left. She subsequently attended ECD teachers training conducted by a NGO, Kayin Baptist Convention funded by UNICEF.

“The ECD training that I received was a turning point in my life. I knew nothing about early childhood development before and the skills I learnt from the training contribute so much to my ability to help children like Mary Myint,” she said.

The centre was also provided with ECD Emergency kit, play materials and illustrated children’s as one-time support. A hand book on use of ECD Emergency Kit was also provided together with the kit.

Toy making training for community members was also conducted so that the community has to initiate and create developmentally appropriate play materials for children by using local materials.

“We all have the best intention for our children; we just need to do more to offer them the best support to start their lives. Living in poor communities, many children have no support or access to early learning and development,” said Daw Naw Le Htoo Whar.

At present, about 26 children from Zalet Kone village and nearby villages attend the ECD centre. The centre began functioning as a pre-school established by the Kayin Baptist Church in 2005.

In 2007, the pre-school was transformed into an early childhood development centre supported by UNICEF. Despite the devastation endured by the village by Cyclone Nargis three years ago, life has slowly came back to normal and the ECD Centre located in the village are unrelenting in its effort to in spite of its limited resources, to give children the best start in their lives.

During Cyclone Nargis (May 2008) over 450 ECD Emergency kits were distributed to about 450 communities that benefited over 9000 children mainly under 5 years age and some other children over 5 years. In October 2010 Giri Cyclone, 50 ECD Emergency kits were distributed to Emergency area 5 townships.

If you would like to know more about the ECD Kit please contact Vijaya Singh, Emergency Specialist at vijsingh@unicef.org

Related link

Building Peace in Early Childhood






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