The field workers describe their work PDF Print E-mail
As part of the 2008 Intensive English Course, the IVPHEN field workers wrote about their experiences visiting remote villages and work camps in Mizoram, where they provide basic education about HIV/AIDS.


They travel in groups of three of four and sometimes walk up to 15 kilometres to remote villages or climb narrow mountain paths to reach isolated work camps. They stop overnight or longer with the communities. This presents many demands and hardships.

Read of their experiences below:

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We have to face many problems but we are so happy to be doing this work. Some villagers have never heard about HIV/AIDS. The information we give is a blessing for them, especially for Burmese people. … They face so many difficulties with HIV/AIDS because of a lack of health education. Burma is under a dictatorship and the people are controlled by the army. Two-thirds of the people are illiterate. So many people emigrate to other countries. In Mizoram we can see the outcomes of our fieldwork are helpful to these people.
Ruata, Mawitei, Thawnga and Muani

When we go off to visit, we have to carry a lot of luggage and material things. This is very heavy, usually about 18 kilos each person. We stay according to the situation at the village we are visiting, and if we are welcomed nicely we stay with the village leader or at the VCP house, and we often eat food from an order hotel. If there isn’t any hotel in the village we must cook for ourselves. We begin our visit by going house to house. We introduce ourselves and give a small talk and explanations about HIV/AIDS, and discuss it all with them. Sometimes it is good, but sometimes it is not, depending on the village.
Paruna, Vula, Lucy and Vungi

We make house to house visits and run public meetings. We also speak at schools. Generally we travel by bus or sumo to the villages. But some villages have no motor road or regular bus service, especially in the Champhai district. When we went to the work camps, we had to walk and carry our luggage, food, booklets, leaflets, posters and hand gloves. It’s not easy to walk on foot. Sometimes our feet are blistered and bleeding. In the sunny season it is hot, so we cannot go on foot. In the rainy season all our clothes get wet and there are lots of leeches. We are afraid of leeches so we walk as fast as we can to stop them getting on us.
Hnemi, Thanga and Zama

Many Mizo people look down on us because we come from Burma and we have difficulty speaking in the Mizo dialect. When we make visits, some villages welcome us warmly, while others not so much. The villages are very poor, so we don’t stay in a village for long.

My first trip was to Vanbawng. We stayed with a teacher. Her house was very small. It was so small, so she moved into the landlord’s house. The three of us women slept on her bed. The teacher was very kind. We bought curry, rice and potatoes in the village, and we cooked in her house. The village welcomed us and we were very grateful. We stayed in the village for three days, visiting schools and house to house. I was very nervous when I did the first presentation. At first I let the others speak. It wasn’t until we had moved to the next village that I had the courage to speak in front of the villagers in their house.

One day, Zuma and I went to the forest to the place where the woodcutters work. These are people from Burma. When we were walking through the mountains we could hear them but we didn’t know how to find them. While we were searching, the rains and storms came and the leeches climbed onto our skins and drank our blood. At midnight we found the woodcutters’ place. It was a bamboo house and too small to share accommodation, so we had to sleep outside on the ground. We told them that night about HIV/AIDS and the Word of God – praising together. They asked if we had any medication for malaria, but we had none. The next day we had to move on to the next woodcutters’ place. Sometimes it was climbing up and sometimes down but the Lord helped us find the right way.
Paruna and Zama

On one trip we were walking up a mountain when we lost our way. We couldn’t go back because it was very steep and dangerous. We asked the men to go up ahead to see if they could find the right way. We decided to stand very still so we wouldn’t fall of the mountain side. The men climbed up further and shouted back to us that they had found the way, so we continued our climb. It was a very frightening experience. That’s my fieldwork experience briefly

One day Khuma, Zama, Muan and I were coming back to Neihdawn village to catch the sumo back to Champhai. We had to start walking at 4 in the morning to get back in time. After many hours I began to feel sick with hunger. We had no food in our bags. Suddenly I found a small piece of biscuit and I ate it. I felt a little bit better but I was still so weak, so Khuma carried my bag for me. We asked some villagers on the road to go in quickly to stop the sumo driver from leaving. Luckily they got the village in time to stop him and we caught the sumo back to Champhai.

Last year, a person who had AIDS came to Aizawl from Myanmar, hoping his AIDS would get better. His relatives knew about the IVPHEN group and rang up and trusted us to look after him. So we took him to the civil hospital and they took his blood sample. We did everything for him because he couldn’t come along with us due to his weakness. It was not only his blood but he also had TB and we took his blood here and there. We arranged and got his food from another NGO. Finally they found he definitely had AIDS. His CD4 count was only 5. Every nurse and doctor was very surprised. He slept at our office for 2 nights, because patients can stay no longer than 15 days in the hospital; they just have to go home. After 15 days they can be admitted once again. His CD4 count began to increase slowly. Now he has become very handsome and has put on weight. He is still being treated in the Durtlang Hospital. He is very thankful to IVPHEN. I am really, really thankful and proud of IVPHEN, Sister Pat and our coordinator, Pu Pianga.

Last Updated ( Jul 26, 2013 at 01:48 PM )