I was born in a small town called Tamu (located near the India-Myanmar border) in Sagaing Region, Myanmar, and belong to an ethnic group called the Naga. I am the sixth child and have six siblings. In the year 2000, my father left us, and our family moved to Yangon where I studied until grade 6. It was hard for my single mother to support her children in Yangon where everything—from living costs to education—is expensive. In 2006, we moved back to our hometown, and my mother sent us to her relatives in India so we could have a better future, a decision I will always be thankful for.
Being Naga ourselves, people from Nagaland (in India) welcomed us knowing that we are members of the same tribe and came from an oppressed country. I remember being very scared of the teachers while studying in Myanmar which, most of the time, was unnecessary.
At first, I was very surprised to see that the students in India were not only quite smart and confident but also unafraid to raise questions or ask the teachers to clear doubts to their satisfaction. Today, this experience inspires me to work towards changing the education system in my country one day. I proceeded with my education in Nagaland until passing grade 12 in 2013.
As I grew older, I felt the urge to possess a true identity. After all, I believe that I was born where I was for a purpose. So I decided to leave India and return to Myanmar. As a result of financial difficulties, I had to take gap years before enrolling in college. During those years I helped in my family’s business and later worked at a small gallery shop in Yangon while also volunteering for the Agriculture and Farmer Federation of Myanmar (AFFM). While working at AFFM, I helped with writing project reports and translation. I learnt about the plight of Burmese farmers, their unresolved land confiscation cases, injustice done by big companies, and their cooperation with us in hope for a better future.
- Ethnicity: Naga
- Country: Myanmar
School & Program
- Mahidol University
- Bachelor’s, Biological Sciences
- 3rd Year in Program
Goals & Dreams
- Establish an educational institute in the Naga Hills
- Contribute to education reform in Myanmar
- Loan Amount: $9,200
- Amount Left To Fund: $5,175
- Contract Duration: 14 years
- Status: Prefunded by Zomia
What Others Are Saying About Poe
I realized the need to have educated people willing to fight for justice and human rights of discriminated people in Myanmar. That is another reason why I would like to help my people with the talents and knowledge that I have.
Finally, in the year 2016, my family decided to send me to Thailand to study by any means. My mother never wanted me to take gap years, and she always urged me to continue even though the expenses are very high. We believe we are investing in something that is worth so much more. I can help my community more effectively when I am well-equipped with knowledge and skills. I love science, and I am majoring in Biological Sciences in Mahidol University International College, where I am being challenged academically to compete with students from around the world, sharing knowledge and culture with them while enjoying real learning experiences.
One day, I hope to become a scientist and set up educational institutes in remote areas of the Naga Hills. I want to teach, inspire, and challenge Naga children to dare to dream, not just with words but by giving them practical experiences. The Naga are one of the neglected tribes in Myanmar, coming under the spotlight in 2016 due to an epidemic measles outbreak that occurred in remote Naga villages. The government was not able to provide immediate aid, which resulted in needless deaths. It made me realize that unless we stand up and help ourselves, progress is too far away. I believe that I am taking those first steps towards development, and one day, my dream of becoming a person who brings real development to my people will come true.
Written by Poe with editing assistance from Allison, one of Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“I want to teach, inspire, and challenge Naga children to dare to dream, not just with words but by giving them practical experiences.”
“I am studying Biological Science because I believe in science and have a keen interest in it.”