My name is Khin. I grew up in a large family in extreme poverty in Northern Myanmar. My father worked in a jade mine as a day laborer, and his income was only about 3 dollars per day. He was killed in a mining accident when I was just 13 years old.
As the eldest daughter in my family, there was no choice but to stop my schooling and got to work for a mining company. This was partially to support my young siblings and mother, who was diagnosed with HIV disease transmitted by my father. The journey I experienced living in poverty shaped who I’ve become today.
My village is in a hilly region with limited access to education, and it was difficult to continue my high school education in a city because of my family’s financial constraints. When I saw my friends going to high school, I smiled at them with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. There were no words to describe how much I wanted to be in school.
Civil war led my mother to move from one place to another, and she never had a proper education. Still, she believed education was the best thing she could give me to build a better life, and she knew how much I valued education. I worked hard to become educated because I knew it was the only way to liberate my family from extreme poverty. Thus, my mother made countless sacrifices to send me to school.
I went to Phaung Daw Oo (PDO) Monastic Education High School, which provides free education to motivated children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. I spent 8 hours every day working for every kyat I could earn to pay for food and school supplies while trying to study at night to prepare for the high school exam. I had two meals per day and slept in a room too small for me to straighten my legs. Despite all the hardship, I was self-disciplined enough to take control of my situation and succeed.
Finally, in 2015, I successfully completed my high school education with a distinction in economics.
- Age: 24
- Ethnicity: Burmese
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Toyo University
- Bachelor’s, Global Innovation Studies
- 2nd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Become a social entrepreneur
- Travel to and study in Japan
- Loan Amount: $8,275
- Amount Left To Fund: $6,975
- Contract Duration: 14 years
- Status: In School
What Others Are Saying About Khin
I am an enthusiastic volunteer in my community, and I had the privilege of serving as an English language teacher at PDO for 3 years. During my time at PDO, I helped educate over 10,000 children from all walks of life. I spent my time teaching English to a class of energetic Grade 10 students. These children were very active, outspoken, and fun. Most children at PDO come from diverse backgrounds and rural parts of Myanmar because it was financially difficult for them to access high school education near their homes.
I began making financial proposals to the World Children’s Charitable Foundation to provide support for buildings and supplies for high school students at a monastic school in my village. I invited donors from the foundation to my village to demonstrate how much need there was for education. The foundation donated two school buildings, together with materials and financial support for teachers’ salaries. Now, all children are eligible to attend the high school for free. The school has over 500 high school students per year, and over 1500 have graduated from the school.
In 2017, I was nominated as a National Youth Ambassador to the United States of America because of my community contributions and volunteer work. During my time in Washington DC, I met with many driven leaders from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, India, etc. I volunteered with them at a homeless center, helping to distribute food supplies to low-income people in Washington. This activity encouraged me to become an outspoken young woman, standing up for underprivileged people in need.
Poverty not only affected me; it affects thousands of children in both rural and urban Myanmar. I became more aware of this when I volunteered teaching street kids and children working at tea shops for the Myanmar Mobile Education Project (myMe) last year. The children often put in long hours to work at sweatshops for about a dollar per day. I have seen that many of these children’s eyes were red and swollen because they were physically abused by the owners. This creates a vicious cycle. Children are prone to provide cheap labor because of their lack of skills plus their lack of education; they cannot question their situations or imagine a better life. The cycle of child labor leads to continual, cyclical poverty in Myanmar.
Because of this, I hope to become a social entrepreneur to help disadvantaged community members improve their circumstances. I hope to play a role in improving Myanmar’s labor market and empowering the country’s young workers. I intend to lead innovative entrepreneurial projects that can develop human capacity in impoverished communities.
To conclude, these personal experiences helped me become an avid promoter for the betterment of my community. I am delighted with the opportunities I have to learn from the community by working for them because I believe that it is essential to give back in any way I can.
Written by Khin with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
Chit Thandar Aung, Teacher at Phaung Daw Oo Monastic Education High School
“Khin has a very friendly personality and brought positive energy to every class. Beyond her diligence and amiable personality, she is passionate about improving conditions in her community. I am confident that she will continue to pursue her community development work upon completing her education.”