One Family’s ‘Baby Steps’ in a Journey to Change

CWS Myanmar | December 19, 2017

CWS Myanmar Program Manager interviewing Ma Ohn May. Photo: CWS

Ma Ohn May is 43 and lives with her husband-U Kyaw Myint and their six children in Let Pan Tan village in southwest Myanmar. U Kyaw Myint is as fisherman and daily wage laborer, depending on the season. In the rainy season, he fishes from his own small boat to earn about 2,000 Myanmar Kyat ($1.66) per day, at most; and, in the dry season, casual farm work is a bit more lucrative at 3,500 Kyat ($2.91) on a good day. Also helping support the family, which is large for Myanmar, are the older sons who, at 20- and 18-years-old, also work for pay. They are daily wage laborers in the rainy season while their father is fishing, and then the work together in family fields the rest of the year. All in all, the men work about 15 days each month, year-round, for 90,000 Kyat ($75) monthly among them – a very small income for a family of seven – since the eldest daughter is married and lives with her own family.

The family’s 4th and 5th children are daughters, ages 15 and 6 years, who study in Grades 7 and one, respectively. The 6th child is a 7-month-old girl, who was assessed, during CWS preparation to support young child nutrition in the area when the family lives, to be malnourished (as other family members might well be, too). Because of the baby’s poor health, Ma Ohn May was prioritized to join nutrition support activities, and she has already joined several teaching-learning sessions. In talking with CWS staff recently, Ma Ohn May said, “Already I have more knowledge of better nutrition and hygiene, and I see the connections. So now I wash my hands with soap after I use the latrine, before I prepare food for my family and after meals. I have all family members do the same. For drinking water, I now use a cloth filter after sedimentation to make sure it safe. Also, I now put the baby’s feces in the latrine and not the river as before. So, I am learning!”

With her quick learning and changing her daily routine, the CWS team is hopeful that Ma Ohn May’s baby, and other family members, will have better wellbeing even though they will remain quite poor.

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