Visiting Report Nanette Haubensak, Myanmar
My name is Nanette Haubensak and I spent three weeks volunteering at Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) / SANNI Foundation in Yangon, Myanmar. My main task was to support Max Homan who is the project manager of SANNI Foundation at MAM in Myanmar.
I spent many days at the Lotus Clinic and also at the Motherhouse (Orphanage), financed by SANNI Foundation, talking to the local staff and understanding their daily work and challenges. The Lotus Clinic and the Motherhouse are set up in slum areas. Passing through, you see a lot of children playing in front of small unstable huts in really dusty and dirty environments on unfortified ground. You quickly realize that there exists a much more difficult and miserable world outside!
First of all, I am deeply impressed to work with all these dedicated and committed people such as project managers, doctors, nurses, outreach workers, clinical staff etc. working with the deep wish to help the poorest people. Their work is not easy: apart from the simple fact that it is really hot (no aircon!), the patients do not trust always in medicine and/or simply have a lot of other problems in life. And people and in particular children coming with really severe health problems: HIV, tuberculosis, malnourishment. And needless to say that most of the MAM staff members could earn more in other jobs!
I really like the overall philosophy not only focusing on short term medical treatment but improving the long term life situation, in particular for children by providing clothes nutritious, food, safe housing, education and vocational training. For several times, I joined the distribution of clothing to the children of the SANNI Foundation sponsorship program: this is really a touching moment when you see the joy and happiness in the eyes of the children getting their donations (in particular they like the cuddly toys)!
During the distribution of food I helped to pack the food support packages (my task was to put 30 packs of Ovomaltine and 5 packs chicken porridge per child in one package) and to give it to the children and their families. For all the MAM staff this is quite normal business, but for me it was like the pictures you normally see in the news channels on television. It is so satisfying to give such a tangible and practicable support to the children and to see really with my own eyes the immediate positive effect of a donation!
The visit to the Motherhouse was also a special experience: located in a very poor and busy area, it is like a quiet and nice oasis. I had two opposite feelings: on the one hand, you see these children, most of them HIV positive, no parents with a sad history of their short lives. On the other hand, SANNI Foundation gives them a future: The children were friendly (offering me bananas), curious (looking on my laptop screen) and in good health condition. They have nice and lovely people around them taking care of the education and vocational training. Their main challenge is preparing them for a life where they have to stand on their own feeds!
If I was not in one of the clinics, I was in the office drafting and discussing content with Max. The atmosphere in the office is also very open; the office staff welcomes everyone very friendly and supportive.
The time at MAM / SANNI Foundation made me conscious again that not everything is just self evident and granted and that we all have a privileged life in our countries. And therefore it should be an implicit matter of course that we help and support people who are not on the bright side of life! It really does not take so much!