“My name is Ei Moor Zaw. I am 24 years old and I live in Sit Kone village, which is a few hours’ drive west of our commercial and historical capital, Yangon. My husband, Pyone Min Paing, and I have a 4-year-old son, Mg Hla Yaung Lin. We own and work 1.5 acres of corn fields, and Ko Paing works as a skilled mason during the dry season. Besides taking care of Lin and our home, I work in our field to help secure our income from corn. Combined with Ko Paing’s wages, this gives us about 500,000 MMK ($333) in yearly income, which is hardly enough to pay for our family’s basic needs – especially a healthy diet for Mg Lin.”
Thinking of her son’s health, when Ma Zaw heard about the nutrition education program CWS is supporting in our village, she was at once interested and actively joined in all the sessions. From group learning and experience-sharing with other mothers, Ma Zaw gained a lot of information and insight which helped her improve Mg Lin’s daily eating and his overall health for his age. She could not do this from her new awareness and knowledge alone, but because the CWS nutrition program supports especially poor families, like Ma Zaw and Ko Paing’s, to join activities in support of improving their earnings, too. First, Ma Zaw and other nutrition workshop ‘graduates’ received vegetable seeds to plant for homegrown vegetables to eat and sell along with chickens to raise for eggs, meat and sale, depending on the family situation. In talking with CWS staff, Ma Zaw noted, “So far, I have used vegetable and chicken eggs at home to make more nutritious meals for my son”.
Then, another activity that helped Ma Zaw improve the family income so they could feed Mg Lin better was joining a self-help group that offers affordable micro loans to members. After finishing her nutrition education, Ma Zaw joined a business proposal writing training offered to women in the village, and then she wrote and submitted a proposal for livelihood activities to bring more income to the family. Upon joining her group, Zaw qualified for a 150,000 MMK ($100) loan to invest in expanding corn plantation and earned 100,000 MMK ($75) more profit within 4 months (March-June 2018). The family invested in growing more corn; specifically, the approved loan allowed the family to put more seeds and fertilizer to grow more corn.
One final way – for now – that that Ma Zaw has benefited herself and her neighbors with CWS is that she had a chance to become a Mother-Leader, and to use her own experience in improving Lin’s nutrition and health, to help other mothers, who are also poor – even poorer than she is. When talking to CWS team members recently, Ma Zaw inspired us with this thought, “I appreciate CWS showing me the path to the door of opportunity. It gives me confidence and hope to continue my work and share it with others”.
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