My name is Dah Dah. I was born to a farming family in Kyaik Don, Karen State, Myanmar. I am 21 years old, and my ethnicity is Shan. My family consists of my parents and two sisters. My younger sister helps my parents, while my older sister is a teacher in a small Karen village.
While there has been some recent improvement, Myanmar suffers from poor education, inadequate health care, ongoing civil war, extreme poverty, and numerous human rights violations. Education and health care are the main areas that need improvement.
Our education system focuses on memorization and passing exams, rather than understanding issues and developing critical thinking skills. Students are not encouraged to ask questions or engage in discussion. Many students from poor families stop after middle school because they must work to help their parents.
The health care system is inadequate to serve the needs of the people. There is a shortage of hospitals, health care staff, hospital beds, medical equipment, and medicine—particularly in the migrant communities. In addition, there are too few community workers to educate and train people on public health, sex education, sanitation, and family planning. As a result, many teenage girls get pregnant and have children out of wedlock.
In 2012, I moved to Mae Sot, Thailand to continue my education at Children’s Development Centre (CDC), where I attended school from grades 8 to 12. While at CDC, I participated in many extracurricular activities including the volleyball team, dance team, and acting as an interpreter and announcer. I enjoyed learning and sharing ideas with my classmates, as well as the teamwork required of the extracurricular activities.
Because of my leadership, I was selected to represent CDC at training sessions on topics such as Sex Education, Child Rights, Child Trafficking, and Health Care. Later, I joined United Against Child Trafficking, an organization that provides training to the migrant population.
About Dah Dah
- Age: 21
- Ethnicity: Shan
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Mae Fah Luang University
- Bachelor’s, Public Health
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Become director of a healthcare team
- Be the first in my family to attend college
- Loan Amount: $1,200
- Amount Left To Fund: $1,025
- Contract Duration: 10 years
- Status: In School
What Others Are Saying About Dah Dah
In 2017, the Minmahaw School selected me to attend Post X. The students at Minmahaw came from many diverse areas, ethnicities, and backgrounds. There were also foreign exchange students attending. This was a great experience for me, as I was able to interact with students from different cultures and learned that despite our different experiences, we have much in common.
While at Minmahaw, I volunteered as a nurse, translator, and member of the school’s soccer team. In addition to classroom studies, one benefit I received at Minmahaw was improving time management and learning the importance of being responsible.
In 2018, I received a scholarship from the Mae Tao Clinic to attend a General Educational Development (GED) program at BEAM Education Foundation in Chiang Mai. The GED is a US high school equivalency certificate that would enable me to apply to universities in Thailand. I was selected to be the leader of the girls’ dormitory, where my duties included enforcing the school’s guidelines, as well as managing monthly budgets and activities in coordination with the boys’ dorm leader and school administration.
I was also selected to participate in the “Challenge 4 Change” Youth Conference, sponsored by the Jump Foundation, which brought together students from other schools. We discussed ways to solve community needs, and our team did a project focusing on “Early Marriage” which was well received. I passed all four parts of the GED test and received a completion certificate in 2019.
Later that year, I decided to delay applying to university because I felt that obtaining practical work experience before university would be beneficial. I was hired as a teacher at the CDC School, where I taught 7th-grade English and Biology, 8th-grade Mathematics, and 11th-grade Science.
As a new teacher, covering different subjects with students at distinct grade levels proved challenging. I learned to take a flexible approach toward lesson plans, where I would adjust my plans according to the specific abilities and motivation levels of each group. As a result of my teaching experience, I developed confidence, patience and persistence, and learned to acknowledge the fact that being a teacher is a difficult job!
I believe that my academic, volunteer, and work experience have made me both qualified and motivated to move on to my next goal—which is attending university and becoming the first person in my family to earn a college degree.
Written by Dah Dah with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“I believe that my academic, volunteer, and work experience have made me both qualified and motivated to move on to my next goal—which is attending university and becoming the first in my family to earn a college degree.”