Voices from the Field: Khin May Tun Chit

 

Khin May Tun Chit

My message to colleagues around the world:
Try to make use of challenging times in positive ways, so that we can increase our resilience

Country: Myanmar
Job title: National Consultant
Sector: Early Childhood Intervention
Works with children: 
0-5 years of age
Years of experience in her role: 35

 

 

If you could send one positive message to children and families/caregivers around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?

I would tell my colleagues around the globe to use these challenging times in positive ways. We can see it as a time to increase our resilience for our families, relatives, friends, teachers, colleagues, clients, societies, and the collective.

 

If you could send one positive message to your colleagues around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?
We used to provide Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECI) services through home visits. Temporally, we stopped home visits because of COVID-19, but home visits are not the only way to provide ECI services.

We can do it in other ways, such as teleintervention or phone conversation. Such practices can even go further to empower parents. It has already begun in some countries. I believe that renowned ECI experts are developing practices that will effectively meet each child's needs and those of his/her family. The core principles of ECI services will not be changed. As such, children and families/caregivers will receive ECI services sooner or later. Social-emotional support is also considered an ECI service.

 

What are you learning during these times as an individual and a professional?
As an individual, I am learning about COVID-19. It is like a poem full of queries; nobody understands yet what the verse means precisely. I hope that it will be revealed one day soon.

I have learnt how to take precautions to decrease the risks of getting COVID-19. I see COVID-19 as a reminder from nature. I am learning how mother nature stops human beings from destroying natural resources and shows us what non-discrimination is. Most of us are moving so fast that our family lives become compromised. COVID-19 required us to slow down, gave us time to reflect on ourselves, and helped us learn flexibility and adaptability.

At the same time, I am deeply sorry for those who passed away because of COVID-19. I see, and I learn different strategies of management of dealing with COVID-19 in other countries. I, however, have stopped watching the statistics regarding cases. Since I am not making decisions regarding the management of COVID-19, knowing the data does not help me with anything except awareness of current data. Instead, I try to spend time on something more meaningful for me. The more meaningful task for me now is to work on ECI issues or personal and professional development, including meditation.

I make sure that I follow the government ministries' rules and guidelines; I also encourage my family and friends to follow the rules.

As a professional, COVID-19 gave me learning opportunities such as free access to the eHealth Virtual Summit for Pediatric Therapists and "Talk with Me" Webinar series conducted by Summer's Therapy Services. I have taken "Professional Resilience" from the Future Learn, which helps me be more resilient.

 

What would you like people to know and understand about your work during the COVID-19 pandemic?

My life is still moving on during the COVID-19 pandemic. I did a training needs assessment in January and made coaching trips to pilot ECI sites in February and March this year. The first positive COVID-19 case was documented on the last day of a coaching trip in Pathein, where we have two ECI  pilot sites. I was supposed to make second time coaching trips in May and June. However, I could not make it because we adhered to the "Stay Home" instruction issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports. Therefore, I decided to develop a guidebook of the developmental screening tool. I attended the Training of Trainers for this developmental screening tool conducted by ECI international consultant, Dr. Hollie Hix-Small, an assistant professor from Portland State University. When I finalized it, I interpreted and adapted the Monitoring and Evaluation Tools provided by ECI International Consultant, Dr. Emily Vargas-Baron, Director of RISE Institute. I still have the opportunity to continue to serve the ECI programme in one way or another, although it is different from what I planned.

Because of the stay at home order, I also had time to review the inception report (draft) on Country-led Formative Evaluation of The Early Childhood Intervention Service Pilot Programme in Myanmar and give some input.

 

What concerns you the most now, and what concerns you most for the upcoming period?
The most concerns I have now are as follows:

  •  ECI home visits are being stopped since the end of March this year. This was after I conducted a training for ECI professional teams. They were to start home visits for children referred to the ECI program (conduct a developmental assessment, goals setting, and Individualized Family Service Plan Development). I was supposed to go on another coaching trip to support and supervise them in those tasks in May and June. Of course, I could not make it happen. Therefore, they have not received ECI services yet, although they need it desperately. Even before the pandemic, we already had some delay in providing services because of many challenges, especially the lack of human resources.
  • Some of ECI home visitors (trained community volunteers) are having financial difficulty. Although the daily allowance for them is not adequate for everyday basic needs, it helps them survive.
  • I am keen to start the teleintervention for children and families under the ECI programme, but it cannot start yet. No preparation or few preparations have been made so far to be able to provide virtual intervention.

My concerns for the upcoming period are related to those mentioned above.

  • The longer the waiting/preparation time to start ECI services, the more negative consequences children and their families would have.
  • Trained community volunteers (home visitors) might leave from the ECI programme. Even those very dedicated to ECI might have to find another job to make ends meet.
  • Myanmar is a developing country, and internet access is difficult in many rural areas. There is also a lack of individual technical skills. As a result, providing ECI services virtually might face tremendous challenges.

 


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