I was born in Laiza, Kachin State, Myanmar. I am Kachin, one of the many ethnic groups in Myanmar. My mother named me Aong, which means “Success and Fame,” in the hope that I would be famous and successful one day. There are six members of my family. I have a younger brother and two older sisters.
From 2003 to 2005, I attended a nursery school in Laiza, then continued my primary and middle education at Laiza Middle School. When I finished grade 8, I went and worked with my sisters and friends to make money for school fees. We carried clusters of banana in fields owned by Chinese people, and I worked as a mason in my hometown and sometimes in China.
Unfortunately, due to the civil war in Kachin State, I had to stop my education in 2013. Leaving our farmland, house, and animals behind, my family fled to China along with other villagers in order to escape from violent attacks by government troops.
The Chinese government did not allow us to stay in their territory, so we were forced to take refuge in Laiza Catholic Church. Fortunately, the schools reopened later in 2013. I returned to school in 2014 and completed my matriculation exam in 2016.
After finishing high school, I enrolled in the Intensive English Program at the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS), a non-profit private educational institute in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State. After completing the program, I earned a diploma in liberal arts at the same school.
From the time I was a high school student, I dreamed of studying at an international university, yet I faced many financial, educational, and political obstacles. Other students who pass the matriculation exam from Kachin schools face similar challenges. My biggest problem was that the school I attended was not accredited by the Myanmar government, which was a major obstacle I would have to overcome in order to reach my goals. After ILAS, with few opportunities to continue my education, I decided to work as a mason instead.
- Age: 23
- Ethnicity: Kachin
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Rangsit University
- Bachelor’s, Information & Communication Technology
- 3rd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Start a GED training program for students in war-torn parts of Kachin State
- Travel to Switzerland
- Loan Amount: $2,575
- Amount Left To Fund: $0
- Contract Duration: 11 years
- Status: Repaid in Full
What Others Are Saying About Aong
Fortunately, while working as a mason, Mr. Lazing Zau Seng, the academic dean from ILAS, invited me to volunteer at the school. I accepted the invitation and volunteered as an office assistant, photographer, and music teacher. It was such a great experience for me, as I got to serve my people and country.
While volunteering at ILAS, one of my teachers suggested that I enroll in the General Educational Development (GED) program at BEAM Education Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I felt this would be a perfect opportunity to pursue my dream, so I left for Chiang Mai and studied in BEAM’s GED program for one year.
After finishing the program successfully, I volunteered as an English teacher at Chiang Mai International Rotary Club and Patient Safe House, which is run by the Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF). Later, I volunteered at Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Currently, I am studying Information and Communication Technology at Rangsit University in Bangkok. After receiving my degree, I will return to serve at ILAS, which is situated in a war-torn part of Kachin State. Students at ILAS are diverse and include many IDPs, Shan students, and Chinese students who have very limited access to education. I plan to help them obtain an accredited education, as their schools are not accredited by the Myanmar government today.
In addition, I would like to open a GED training program in the war-torn areas for students who wish to fulfill their dreams to continue international education. Only if we can implement this program can students from schools in war-torn areas fulfill their dreams.
Written by Aong with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“My biggest problem was that the school I attended was not accredited by the Myanmar government, which was a major obstacle I would have to overcome in order to reach my goals. ”
“By borrowing money from Zomia, my financial management and self-dependence will improve.”