My name is Htoi Lar. I am Kachin, one of the ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. I was born in a Mung Ju village, Kut Kai Township, located in Northern Shan State. I am the third of seven children in my family. My parents are farmers. Since my eldest sister and brother are already married, I have to take care of all my younger siblings.
When I was young, we were the biggest family in our village. My village is about five miles away from the nearest town. There is no market, school, or electricity. No one is educated, and I was the first person from my village to pass the matriculation exam.
I started school at the age of five. At that time, four of my siblings were already in school. One of our major challenges was that we had to walk ten miles to get to school. We did not have enough food to feed ourselves. Sometimes, I was too tired and hungry to go to school.
One day, the teacher was collecting money from students for school activities. My parents could not afford to pay for all four of us since we didn’t even have enough food to survive. Consequently, my elder brother and sister dropped out of school and started working at the farm. Gradually, our family grew as two more siblings were added. It got even more difficult for my younger brother and me to continue with our education. Every day, I had to help my brother in the farm after I came back from school.
Despite the challenges, I was determined to continue my education. Finally, thanks to the grace of God, I passed my matriculation examination and chose to study distance education at Lashio University, majoring in Philosophy. After finishing the program, I started volunteering at an internally displaced person (IDP) camp in Kachin State. Due to ongoing fighting in the area, more than 100,000 people have ended up as IDPs. Initially, I was assigned to look for survivors in the jungle and bring them to shelter. We provided basic health care to sick people and pregnant women. We buried the bodies of those killed in the fighting.
About Htoi Lar
- Age: 27
- Ethnicity: Kachin
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Chiang Mai University
- Bachelor’s, Social Science
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Become a community leader
- Earn a PhD
- Loan Amount: $1,850
- Amount Left To Fund: $1,825
- Contract Duration: 10 years
- Status: Prefunded by Zomia
What Others Are Saying About Htoi Lar
After volunteering for three months, I joined a local non-government organization called Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN). It is a newly established organization providing assistance to IDPs. In order to gain more experience, I spent two years working as an activities organizer in the IDP camp under the Multi Action Services (MAS) scheme. MAS is intended to develop youth leadership skills and promote community development.
While working for the community, I discovered the significant needs of my community. It is a sad reality that we have been lagging behind other countries in terms of health care and education. It is imperative that we take specific actions to develop our community.
In order to keep up with other countries, we need more educated people in Myanmar. If we do not have educated people, the future of our country is at stake. Therefore, I have decided to purse further education in a foreign country. In order to study abroad, I started studying English to improve my English proficiency.
In 2014, I joined the fellowship program offered by DANMISSION, the International NGO based in Denmark. During my time in Denmark, I was able to present about the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar and my experiences at MAS. Eventually, in 2016, I moved to another NGO called Partners Relief & Development, based in Chiang Mai.
Currently, I am a second year student at Chiang Mai University majoring in Social Science. After earning my degree, I would like to make significant differences in my community by restoring peace and prosperity. My ultimate goal in life is to earn a PhD and serve my community for the rest of my life.
Written by Htoi Lar with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“Initially, I was assigned to look for survivors in the jungle and bring them to shelter. We provided basic health care to sick people and pregnant women. We buried the bodies of those killed in the fighting.”