“My name is Ma Khin San. I am a 36-year-old daily wage farm worker, and my husband, U Kyaw Naing Myint, is 38 and a wage worker, too. Together, we earn about 6,500 Kyat ($5) each day for about 15 days of work each month during the six-month dry season, which makes us very poor. We have a daughter, Ei Kay Kay Kyaw, who is three years old, and we live in a village in our country’s Ayeyarwaddy River region.”
Because their daughter is under-weight and too small for her age, Ei Kay Kay Kyaw’s mother was chosen by a local Midwife and CWS staff to join CWS-led nutrition initiative to help malnourished young children in very poor villages in Maubin Township, where CWS has partnered with local government and communities for several years to address basic community development issues. On hearing about their daughter’s poor health, and the chance to change it, Ma Khin San joined all eight education sessions led by CWS staff, including ones about home gardening and cultivating a shared village plot with donated seeds and information about best practice gardening. Continuing to share her story, Ma Khin San said, “I was eager to learn and then I was nominated by friends to be one of the three main keepers of our shared demonstration plot. Two other women and I took our new jobs to heart, and we planted watercress, roselle, pumpkin, okra, white radish, cucumber, spinach, salad and coriander; then we took turns watering and weeding after tilling and planting. So far, we have sold the harvested vegetables to other poor mothers in our Self-Help Group at low price, which is one aim of our shared work.” Also, Ma Khin San cooked these vegetables for her own family since she had learned more about the nutritional value, especially for Ei Kay Kay Kyaw, of these vegetable, many of which were new to her.
Besides bringing more, and better cultivated, vegetables to their village, the demo plot keepers earned 120,000 Kyat ($90) from selling vegetables in January through March, and they have saved some of the money and seeds for next season. Continuing with her story, which she is proud to share, Ma Khin San tells CWS colleagues how she has shared her new knowledge about making and using organic fertilizer to improve the demonstration plot’s quality and output with four women’s groups in other villages during learning exchange visits. Ma Khin San wraps up our chat saying, “This is my first time to do something like this [to join with my neighbors so we can help our children], so I am really excited and happy to share my learning and tell about our achievements, [which we hope to increase] next season when we grow our vegetables with experience and will yield more food and earn more money for our families.”
(For more information please contact IKhreusirikul@cwsglobal.org )