Student Portrait

My name is Thoe Thoe. I am originally from Taunggyi, Shan State, and belong to the Karenni ethnic group.

A few years ago, I faced a terminal illness which threatened my future and life. In 2014, I began suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). What made my situation worse was that the local hospital did not recognize the disease as SLE. It took them almost a month to diagnose my symptoms.

I lost consciousness many times. When I was conscious, I could not even see myself surviving to the next day. I could see that my family members had lost hope.

Amid this suffering, I couldn’t imagine myself being able to overcome it. I came close to giving up on life. I could have done so, but the only way to help myself was to maintain hope. I hoped there would be a day to restart my normal life, and with self-encouragement and strong mental support from my mother, I gradually recovered.

Even though I still need to take medication as per the SLE treatment procedure, I feel that I have escaped the worst of the disease because many SLE victims do not survive.

Prior to my illness, I earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Computer University in Loikaw, Myanmar. During my time there, I worked as a volunteer with a student organization called Student Christian Movement (SCM).

SCM helps people impacted by natural disasters, supports orphanages, and campaigns for environmental safeguards. My experiences with SCM helped build my knowledge of social issues and gave me ideas about how to address social problems in our society.

After earning my B.C.Sc, I worked as a volunteer for World Vision. As World Vision is focused on anti-human trafficking in Burma, my primary role was raising awareness of human trafficking among young people by conducting trainings and providing social services to trafficking victims in Karenni State.

 About Thoe Thoe

  • Age: 31
  • Ethnicity: Karenni
  • Country: Myanmar

 School & Program

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

Goals & Dreams

  • Continue social work in Karenni State
  • Work to support IDPs and refugees
  • Visit Paris

 Loan Details

  • Loan Amount: $2,775
  • Amount Left To Fund: $0
  • Contract Duration: 11 years
  • Status: Repaid in Full


What Others Are Saying About Thoe Thoe

My experiences with World Vision strengthened my understanding of social issues in Karenni State. I became more enthusiastic about helping with social work in Karenni society. Given this motivation, I decided to pursue education that would allow me to work in this field.

I completed a diploma program on Community Leadership and Social Studies program (CLASS) at Thabyay Education Foundation in Yangon. Currently, I am studying for a Master of Arts in Social Science (Development Studies) at Chiang Mai University. With all the experiences from my previous work and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained from this program, I am committed to continuing social work in Karenni State.

There are still various issues such as social injustice, inequality, marginalization, etc., that need to be addressed. Local, national, and international NGOs continue to work on the rights of children, women’s rights, domestic violence, land mine removal, health issues, refugees, internal displaced persons (IDPs), anti-human trafficking, micro-finance development, etc.

Among these, I am eager to contribute my skills and knowledge to address issues faced by IDPs and refugees, mainly because these are among the most persistent problems in Karenni State. My major concern involves IDP resettlement, their access to land, and their livelihoods and employment opportunities.

IDPs face difficulties accessing their land because it was often confiscated by the Myanmar military during and after the civil war, which has impacts on the IDPs’ livelihood securities. My current research, for my M.A. thesis, focuses on the relationship between IDPs’ access to land and their human securities. Hence, when I finish this program, I will be prepared to continue my work on IDP issues as well as other social issues faced by the people in Karenni State.

Written by Thoe Thoe with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.

Thoe Thoe

Thoe Thoe

“I am eager to contribute my skills and knowledge to address issues faced by IDPs and refugees, mainly because these are among the most persistent problems in Karenni State.”

Q&A With Thoe Thoe

Survey Fun

What is your favorite memory?
Suffering from SLE
How would your friends describe you?
What is the one thing that isn’t taught in school but should be?
Life skills
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
Research methodology
What skill or ability do you most wish you had (but lack today)?
If you could do anything you wanted now, what would it be?
Where would you most like to travel?
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Rice and curry
What’s your dream job?