Ma Than Dar is a 29-year-old mother with one daughter and, besides her full-time job being a mother and house keeper, she used to work as a day laborer outside her home village, Yae Le Gyi, in southwestern Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy region. U Thet Naing, her 35-year-old husband works as fisherman and, in the past, they raised Ei Ei Phyu on a combined monthly income of about 45,000-60,000 Kyat ($35 on average).Now, Ma Than Dar’s low-paid, occasional, difficult wage labor is in the past and she owns a home-based mat-weaving micro business!
Here are details of how, with hard work and perseverance, Ma Than Dare changed her family’s livelihood and life.
In the past, given how little money the family had, it was very hard for them to buy enough good quality food in addition to paying other basic household expenses. So, in a way, it was not surprising that Ei Ei Phyu was found to be malnourished during a CWS-sponsored nutrition screening last year (2017). When she learned of her daughter’s condition, Ma Than Dar was quite alarmed and immediately and actively joined in all the nutrition education sessions she could. While with other mothers of malnourished children, she was most interested to learn about the importance to Ei Ei Phyu of having nourishment from different food groups. She was also glad to be reminded of best practices for healthy food preparation. When she successfully completed all the nutrition classes, to help her and U Thet Naing change their poor diets, Ma Than Dar received a rooster and three hens, and four different kinds of vegetable seeds from CWS, and she worked hard to produce results!
Now, the family has 15 chickens, lots of eggs to eat or sell, plus long beans, eggplant, pumpkin and bok choy to eat. So, the family has more food and it is of better nutritional value for them all – but especially Ei Ei Phyu – since Ma Than Dar knows how to make sure her meals are prepared and cooked in a healthy way. She is happy with her daughter’s monthly weight gain and consistent growth, and others admire her for the change she made happen.
Recently, Ma Than Dar was chosen to be one of two Mother-Leadersfor her village, after which she joined two education sessions: growth measurement and exclusive breast feeding. Now, Ma Than Dar co-leads monthly growth monitoring among all at-risk young children in Tae Le Gyi, and she gladly shares information and her own knowledge about breast feeding practice – exclusive for at least six month with soft nutrition food supplements added later. No tea or other adult drinks and food! She also teaches other mothers and caregivers about good personal and family hygiene during monthly Self-Help Group mothers’ meetings.
Building on her success in gardening and chicken-raising, in March 2018, Ma Than Dar was chosen, together with four other mothers to receive a ≈150,000 Kyat ($100) unsecured loan to expand her income generating activities, When the loan was awarded by a majority vote from other Self-Help Group members, Ma Than Dar proceeded with her plan, outlined in her presentation to the group, to invest the loan plus 100,000 Kyat of her own savings in her mat-weaving business. Ma Than Dar was confident that she would be able to do well in this business because she has weaving skills and she did her market research to know the cost of raw materials and the likely sale price of her product. So far, average monthly income is 70,000 Kyat ($48) – which adds a lot to the family’s total income – and Ma Than Dar is thrilled with CWS’s livelihood support because she no longer needs to work as a daily laborer outside of the village because she can generate more income from home and have time to take care of her daughter.
(For more information please contact IKhreusirikul@cwsglobal.org )