Student Portrait

My name is Maybel. I was born in 1988 in the Irrawaddy Delta, Myanmar, but I grew up on the Thai-Myanmar border. In 2000, I left Myanmar with my mother, grandmother, and three younger sisters because of the political instability and my own educational needs. Growing up in a camp, it is not easy to have a decent life. Yet, I got support from various people and organizations that built my capacity and helped me reach the position that I have now. I have a complicated family life and long life struggle. So I will be brief and explain only what I have done to keep up my dream until today.

I graduated 10th grade in the Mae Kong Kah refugee camp at Young Ni Oo School run by All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF). I received further informal education after I arrived in Mae Sot in 2004 and have been involved in the democratic movement since then.

Taking various trainings provided by members of the Burmese pro-democracy movement in exile along the Thai-Myanmar border improved my knowledge and skills. The one-year Foreign Affair Training drove me to a deeper relationship with politics. The Democratic Party for a New Society was the main political organization that gave me a space to be part of the democratic movement. I had different responsibilities and performed a variety of tasks. I worked with CBOs, CSOs, and youth and women’s groups through advocacy, community organizing, mobilizing and alliance building. In addition, I completed the Australian Catholic University program for a diploma in Liberal Studies in Mae Sot last year.

I am now accepted at Chiang Mai University and have chosen to study social science. As a person who grew up in a refugee camp and is willing to work for change, I believe social science is the most relevant to my future career. I believe that graduating will definitely help me find better approaches to achieve positive change in Burma and improve my ability to work more effectively with communities on the ground.

 About Maybel

  • Age: 35
  • Ethnicity: Karen
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

  • Chiang Mai University
  • Bachelor’s, Social Science
  • Graduated

Goals & Dreams

  • Advocate for youth, women and farmers to have more of a voice in improving their own livelihoods
  • Engage policymakers to fight for social justice
  • Create a space for youth, women, and farmers to access information

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $1,125
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 10 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Maybel

I am eager to do three main things as part of my future plan targeting youth, women and farmers—especially in the Irrawaddy Delta—with the aim of working for sustainable development and social justice. Firstly, I want to create a space for those targeted groups to access information, awareness raising and capacity building. Secondly, I want to advocate for them to have more participation and voice in improving their own livelihoods. Finally, I want to engage policymakers in order l to have more equality and social justice in our country.

To conclude, I used to be a refugee without refugee status and a migrant without legal documentation in Thailand. However, every challenge made me stronger and more eager to work for people in need in my country. I believe that the knowledge, experiences, and skills which I will gain from Chiang Mai University will definitely help me to work more professionally and enthusiastically with people at different levels in Burma to promote more inclusive participation in social and political processes.

Written by Maybel with editing assistance from Annie, one of Zomia’s volunteer editors.



“I know that without education, I am nothing and am not secure.”



“The major challenge in my life is the lack of opportunity to access formal and quality education to be able to work more professionally.”

Vimeo Video

Meet Maybel

Maybel left Myanmar in 2000 to access better education in a refugee camp along the Thai-Burma border. She’s since dreamed of going to college and believes she finally has her chance.

Q&A With Maybel

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
Memories with family
How would your friends describe you?
Strong personality
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Work practically and theoretically
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Return to my hometown and establish an empowerment program
Where would you most like to travel?
Around the world
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Fish paste
What’s your dream job?
Social worker for community development
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Working for farmers, women and young people in the Irrawaddy Delta