A simple boy with a big dream—that is who I am in just a few words. My name is Kyaw Zin. I was born in Yangon, and simplicity was all I knew growing up, though I realized later that this was not a choice but an effect of poverty.
I was born and raised in a Hindu family. My great-grandfather was a farmer from India who was drafted into the British army during World War II to fight against the Japanese in Burma. After the war ended, he decided to settle in a small village near Bago city and started a family. He was a small, simple farmer, and although this line of work is the lifeline of my country, our farmers earn the lowest incomes.
Eventually my mother was married off to my father, who moved to the commercial capital of Yangon for work. He made a good living after moving; his job: buying and selling U.S. dollars and profiting from the fluctuation of exchange rates. In time, my mother got pregnant and gave birth to me and my two sisters.
But things took a turn in 2008 when the economic recession occurred. My father lost money as the dollar price dropped to record lows. Having borrowed money from loan sharks to invest in his business, all was lost and he fled the country, abandoning our family. I was just ten years old.
For safety, my sisters and I were sent to live with my grandparents for almost a year. This is when I first encountered real poverty. I had seen children begging on the streets in Yangon, but I did not know how bad it could be until I went to live in the countryside. Farmers worked to their bones in the sun all day long, and when it was time to cash in they got a fraction of what they deserved. I became more socially conscious about such issues and did my best to help the farmers, even if all I could offer was menial labor.
I graduated from high school with financial support from my uncle and enrolled at the Pre-Collegiate Program (PCP), hoping for a chance to study in the United States. PCP was an eye-opening experience and helped mold me into who I am today, a person looking not only to help farmers but to lift all impoverished communities in rural Myanmar above the poverty line.
About Kyaw Zin
- Age: 23
- Ethnicity: Hindi
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Stetson University
- Bachelor’s, Economics
Goals & Dreams
- Empower impoverished communities in Myanmar
- Help poor farmers and small business owners
- Become curator of the Georgia Aquarium! 🐟🐡
- Loan Amount: $7,000
- Amount Left To Fund: $4,150
- Contract Duration: 13 years
- Status: In Repayment
What Others Are Saying About Kyaw Zin
I believe there is more than one way to achieve my goal, and as a result I have worked on three different projects.
The first was when I taught English to children from minority communities. I saw my own reflection in these children and I am sure they will want to improve their communities when they grow up.
Secondly, I interned at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), initially out of love for animals. Yet it later dawned on me that conserving nature could end up meaning better opportunities for rural communities as well, and this is what we achieved during my time there. With WCS, I travelled to rural places within the country and learned that 80% of Myanmar’s rural population live below the poverty line.
Finally, I went on to work with the finance team at Proximity Designs, which lends money to small businesses looking to expand and increase their earnings. The interest rate was minimal, and 98% of the loans were repaid.
Over all, these experiences shaped my primary ambition, which is to help underrated people like poor farmers and small business owners attain better futures for themselves and their children.
With this goal in mind, I hope to study economics in the United States and then return to Myanmar to address what I believe is the most pressing issue in my country. Unfortunately, due to irregular weather patterns, my uncle’s fertilizer retailing business recently suffered a loss, leaving him unable to help cover the costs of my expenses in the United States. I hope to enroll at Stetson University and study not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my country. Therefore, I come to Zomia asking for help in fulfilling my goal of empowering impoverished communities in Myanmar.
Written by Kyaw Zin with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“Simplicity was all I knew growing up, though I realized later that this was often not a choice but an effect of poverty.”