Stories of Change

Ma Zaw says that the bookkeeping class that she took was most helpful in growing her family's small business.

“The path to the door of opportunity”

Ei Moor Zaw and family live in Sit Kone village, a few hours’ drive west of Yangon in Myanmar. Ma Zaw is 24 and has a 4-year-old son named Mg Hla Yaung Lin. Her husband, Pyone Min Paing, own 1.5 acres of corn fields. In the dry season, Ko Paing earns extra income as a skilled mason. Ma Zaw takes care of Mg Lin and works in the corn field. “Combined with Ko Paing’s wages, this gives us about 550 MMK in yearly income,” Ma Zaw explains. That’s about $330, “which is hardly enough to pay for our family’s basic needs, especially a healthy diet for Mg Lin.”

That’s why Ma Zaw joined a CWS nutrition education program. She joined every session in order to find ways to improve Mg Lin’s diet and health. Between the information sessions and talking to other moms, Ma Zaw learned a lot of new information and new ideas. Then she and the other graduates of the sessions received vegetable seeds and chickens. They could use what they learned to plant new gardens or expand their current vegetable gardens, meaning more food to eat and sell. The same thing was true of the chickens – they can sell eggs and chickens, or use them to add protein to their family’s diet. “So far I have used vegetables and chicken eggs at home to make more nutritious meals for my son,” Ma Zaw says.

After finishing the sessions about nutrition, Ma Zaw joined a self-help group. She and her neighbors work together to save money, which they loan out at affordable rates to members. Ma Zaw joined a class for women in her community about writing business proposals. She wrote and submitted a proposal to the group for a loan of $100. She received the grant, which she used to invest in her corn growing. She bought more seeds and fertilizer so that she could grow more corn and earn more money for her family. Within just four months, she had made an extra $75 in profit!

One final way – for now – that Ma Zaw is teaming up with CWS is that she has become a Mother-Leader. This means that she shares what she has learned and the tips and tricks she has picked up along the way with other moms who are in similar situations. “I appreciate CWS showing me the path to the door of opportunity,” Ma Zaw says. “It gives me confidence and hope to continue my work and share it with others.”