My name is Kyaw. I am the eldest of four children and lived with my family in my mother’s hometown, Palaw, until 2010. After that, we moved to Dawei, my father’s hometown. My father is a range officer at the Forestry Department, and my mother owned a tea shop in her hometown. After moving to Dawei, we lived in the staff residences where my father was working.
In primary and middle school, I won prizes at school and township-level competitions. My grandmother taught me while other students were taking private classes. My mother encouraged me to educate myself so I could live without hardship. No matter the situation, my parents have always been very supportive of my education.
While I was in high school, we moved to Dawei. Being a big city, the cost of education there is high. Nevertheless, my parents were supportive. To prepare for the matriculation exams, I was sent to school in Yangon.
At the time, my goal was to become a Burmese Language Professor. When the matriculation results came out, I passed with distinctions in Burmese and Biology. I hoped to continue my university education, majoring in Burmese, but my father did not want me to do so.
Instead, I was sent to the Forest University to become the officer he wanted to be. I could not disobey my parents, so I accepted their decision. When I began the program, I was not happy at all. I was not interested in the school lessons so failed my first-year exams. Although I said I did not want to continue, my parents would not allow me to leave. I asked them for a promise that they would allow me to do what I wanted if I continued and finished the program. I used this as motivation to get through one year at a time.
At the end of my third academic year, I joined Eco Youth Camp, organized by Kalaynamitta Development Foundation. A two-week program for young people to learn to love the environment, Eco Youth Camp gave me friends from all over the country and changed my attitude about environmental conservation.
- Age: 26
- Ethnicity: Asian
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Kasetsart University
- Master’s, Environmental Science
- 1st Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Establish a scientific laboratory
- Help Myanmar overcome environmental its challenges
- Educate and train future environmentalists
- Loan Amount: $1,975
- Amount Left To Fund: $1,225
- Contract Duration: 10 years
- Status: In School
What Others Are Saying About Kyaw
When I returned to school, I arranged an environmental conservation knowledge-sharing session with our school’s seniors and juniors. From there, I gained momentum and joined environmental programs and events.
In my fourth year, I was chosen to participate in the Myanmar–Netherlands Water Challenge, a program organized by the Embassy of the Netherlands. We focused on water resource management and wastewater treatment systems. I became increasingly passionate about environmental conservation.
At the end of my fourth year, I became an intern with the Wildlife Conservation Society Organization and the University of Forestry and Environmental Science. I was given a chance to visit the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary and participated in wildlife conservation activities.
I wrote an academic paper entitled “Gibbon Group Density Estimation in Nanpagon Area Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary.” In 2019, I became a member of Air Quality Yangon (AQY). I later became responsible for Public Communication and Content Creation at AQY. AQY is the very first civic society organization formed by entrepreneurs, advocates, and activists working on environmental qualities in developing countries.
I took on responsibility for sharing updated news through social media and encouraged virtual awareness campaigns about daily air quality. I studied the air quality in Yangon by using Purple Air sensors and constantly updated daily air quality data on social media and via a website.
Owing to the productive results of our activities, my team received funding from “Save The Children Myanmar” to create a campaign with the help of “Bridge.” We launched a month-long campaign called “Know What You Breathe’’ to educate the public about air pollution. Many learned about air pollution in Yangon and asked us what they could do in their daily lives to reduce air pollution.
I participated as a guest speaker on talk shows such as Conyat Create, Yaw Min Gyi Zayat Talk Show, Teen Radio, Markerfest, as well as in many universities and technical institutes. Last year, our proposal was selected by “Action Aid Myanmar” for a campaign named “Say No to Trash Burning,” designed to raise awareness about what trash burning is, how it affects our health and environment, and why we should stop the practice.
In 2021, I began working for Voice for Mekhong Forest Project in my hometown, Dawei. The transboundary focus of this project covers three landscapes across five countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. These landscapes are among the most biodiverse in the region.
During this time, I became convinced that we must upgrade our academic capacity to stay abreast of international standards. I hope to serve my country by helping to solve the environmental problems we face. I can also take part in training and educating the nation’s people to become environmentalists.
Although I was granted admission to the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand in 2021, tuition fees were too high for me to enroll, even with Zomia’s support. I applied again in 2022, shifting to an Environmental Science program at Kasetsart University. After gaining admission and piecing together the necessary finances to enroll, I feel wonderful again and am excited to begin a new chapter on the path of becoming a professional environmentalist.
Written by Kyaw with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“I hope to serve my country by helping to solve the environmental problems we face. I can also take part in training and educating the nation’s people to become environmentalists.”