My name is Jacinta, and I was born to divorced parents in Kachin State, Myanmar. There are three members of my family: my mother, my older brother, and me. However, I grew up with my aunts and spent most of my life in Mae La Refugee Camp.
When I was ten years old, I moved to Mae La with my aunt because my village was at risk of being destroyed by fighting between the Burmese military and Kachin soldiers. It was one of the biggest challenges of my life, as my brother and I were separated from my mother and faced discrimination in the camp for speaking Burmese.
I finished my primary and secondary education at Eden Valley Academy, thanks in part to support from Father Nicholas. Thereafter, I received a scholarship from Australian Catholic University (ACU) to study in Mae Sot, near the Thai-Burma border. While studying at ACU, my English improved, as did my abilities to learn and understand the lessons.
I graduated from ACU in 2019 with a Diploma in Liberal Studies. It was the greatest achievement of my life to that point, and a proud moment for my family as well since I was the first in my family to receive any kind of higher education degree.
When my friends from the camp earned scholarships to continue their education, it changed their lives. I realized that I could only escape if I did the same. I applied to many scholarship organizations, but none was successful. Last year, I was awarded a partial scholarship to study business at Rangsit University but was unable to secure enough funding to cover the remaining tuition and living expenses.
At the time, I had a chance to work with OneSight as an interpreter for the foreign volunteers in Mae La Camp, and I learned many things. It was such a fulfilling experience, as I got to help my community for the first time by interpreting for the doctors and patients. Since then, I have become eager to work for the community. Before I became a teacher at St. Joseph Maeramat School, I looked for jobs at many NGOs but wasn’t offered employment by any of them.
- Age: 23
- Ethnicity: Kachin
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Assumption University
- Bachelor’s, International Business Management
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Become a successful social entrepreneur
- Visit Rome
- Loan Amount: $2,175
- Amount Left To Fund: $1,625
- Contract Duration: 11 years
- Status: In School
Jacinta, in her own words
Eventually, I received an email about a teaching vacancy at St. Joseph Maeramat School from my former tutor. I decided to apply for the job and was successful. I worked as an English teacher for eight months, but I quit to continue my education when I was awarded a partial scholarship from Daughters Rising. Teaching is one of my hobbies but not a dream, so I decided to continue my education instead of staying on as a teacher.
My curiosity to know what the real business world is like fueled my passion to study International Business Management at Assumption University. My dream is to become an entrepreneur and contribute to my community. I have lived among impoverished people, so I want to be a change-maker for that community. Creating a social enterprise would bring many benefits to my people.
I hope to be a socially conscious businesswoman who doesn’t look only at profits but also the welfare of the entire community. Many young people in my community need higher education, yet scholarship opportunities for them remain limited. Few have access to quality education.
While interning at a hair salon in Mae Sot, I discovered the large income gap between Myanmar and Thai people. Thais run their own businesses and earn thousands of baht per day, while Myanmar people working in Thailand often earn minimum wage.
My life as a refugee was hopeless. Many young people in my camp dropped out before finishing high school and left for Bangkok to work illegally and support their families. Some were beaten by the Thai police and deported to Myanmar. Some parents forced their children to work at a very young age. These children work tirelessly when they should be studying to improve their future.
Situations like these have motivated me to study business and become a social entrepreneur. I have a strong belief that one day, I will be a great asset to my community. I believe that education is the key to eliminating the poverty and hardships endured by people in my community.
After earning my bachelor’s degree, I plan to first work as an intern in Thailand, then later return to Myanmar to start a social enterprise. With the accumulated knowledge and skills I gain from my education and life experiences, I will build a successful social enterprise in Myanmar.
Written by Jacinta with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“With the accumulated knowledge and skills I gain from my education and life experiences, I will build a successful social enterprise in Myanmar.”