COVID-19 pandemic frontline workers receive toys for their children in Kachin State

China and UNICEF join hands to support frontline workers and their children

Mra Thuzar and Htet Aung
UNICEF Myanmar
UNICEF Myanmar/2021/Htet Aung
13 January 2021

KACHIN State – Children from families of Government’s frontline workers and civil society organizations’ volunteers in Kachin State have been provided with over 2,700 toys as a token of appreciation for the hard work of the service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donation, made by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and distributed by UNICEF, aimed to acknowledge the efforts of the frontline workers who unceasingly and tirelessly serve children, women and the community in the state which borders China. At the height of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic last August, Kachin State reported 51 cases and quarantined 3,603 people. The service providers are basic level health staff, nurses and tertiary level staff in hospitals, general administrative staff and volunteers with the Myanmar Red Cross Society. The government employees from the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government, the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement along with civil society workers often went the extra miles to work long hours every day and were separated from their families for extended periods.

Ei Ei Htwe was one of the many staff nurses who received a toy for her child. She was posted a year ago to the 50-bed General Hospital in Sumprabum township, in Putao District, one of the hardest to reach areas of Kachin State on the Himalaya mountain range. The team of just 11 nurses of whom seven are staff nurses, often have to work overtime due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to treating patients, Daw Ei Ei Htwe has also participated in the COVID-19 control activities, including health talks, swab-taking from people in quarantine and a mask campaign. While Ei Ei Htwe is at work, her sister looks after her 3-year-old daughter, Khun Sint Shwe Yi.

After a long shift at the hospital, Ei Ei Htwe remembered how happy she felt to be greeted by her daughter, bubbling with excitement.

“Mom! Look at my house,” said her daughter. Khun Sint Shwe Yi proudly showed her what she had built with the brightly coloured toy blocks. The toys have been particularly special for the children of the staff stationed in Daw Ei Ei Htwe’s residential compound because toys are not available in the local market, only in Myitkyina, the capital city, which is 167 kilometres away.

Other frontline workers, many of whom are volunteers, have been assigned to COVID-19 treatment and isolation centres in the 18 townships in Kachin State. Their responsibilities include carrying out daily temperature checks, ensuring safe distancing and proper hygiene practice, particularly handwashing with soap, and the use of face masks, and carrying out entertaining educational activities on COVID-19 prevention.    

One of the many volunteers at the quarantine centre for women, Nan Aye Nwe Nwe Aung, who joined the Myanmar Red Cross Society in Kachin over two years ago said, “I’m very happy to receive this toy. I’ve not returned home for a long time. I miss my family and my younger brother.” The centre was opened last November at the Myitkyina University in Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State. “I will give this toy to my brother as a present,” added she.