The Colin McPhedran Trek will benefit Burnet’s work in Myanmar

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Burnet Institute’s work in Myanmar will be the beneficiary of a commemorative trek in February 2017 conceived by two Melbourne men, ambulance paramedic Kevin Commins and psychologist Michael Clarebrough.

Inspired by the exodus of more than half-a-million refugees from Burma, now Myanmar, ahead of the Japanese invasion in 1942, Michael and Kevin, together with fellow Trekkers – Jacob Garrett and Filmmaker, Kenton Reeder, will retrace the escape route taken by one of those refugees, Colin McPhedran.

Then aged 11, Colin, his mother, brother and a sister were among 40,000 refugees who set out to walk 450km from Myitkyina in central northern Burma west into India via the Pangsau (Hellfire) Pass.

Eighteen thousand of those refugees died of starvation and disease on the track. Of Colin’s family, only he survived.

After immigrating to Australia in the early 1950s, Colin raised a family of his own in Bowral, NSW where he wrote an autobiography, White Butterflies, and lived as an active member of the community. He passed away in 2010.

The Trekkers wish to acknowledge refugees past and present. They also wish to raise awareness of community health concerns that persist in Myanmar to this day, and raise funds to ensure Burnet can continue its work to address these health issues, especially those affecting women and children.

Your donations to The Colin McPhedran Commemorative Trek will go towards Burnet’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program that is being expanded into Myanmar with a focus on training of midwives and provision of clean delivery kits, a cheap, simple and proven global intervention for maternal and child health.

Each midwife training course will cost $US150 and provide refresher training for 20-30 midwives. Burnet will also facilitate a program to train 20-30 auxiliary midwives at $US300 per course.

Each clean delivery kit, costing $US3, contains five items that enable a sterile birth – soap, plastic sheet, gloves, clean cord cutting equipment, clean cord care and essential medicines and antiseptic ($US2) – which can save both a mother and newborn’s life, all for the cost of a cup of coffee.

For more information about the Trek and the Trekkers, click here.