Girls can do it!
RISING ABOVE OBSTACLES
Thu Thu, 20, lives in one of the villages in the delta. She is the youngest of 4 siblings. Her parents are normal farmers and earn their living by growing paddy and seasonal vegetables. They are not well educated but try their best to send their children to school. There is no school in Thu Thu’s village. Children walk for 20 minutes to get to the school in the village nearby for education.
Being the youngest, girls usually stay under the full protection of their parents and elder siblings. They usually depend totally on the adults and feel insecure to act alone. Thu Thu breaks the chain. As she joined the sponsorship programme and got awareness and life skills training, she stepped out and became a child leader.
BECOMING A CHILD LEADER
Thu Thu started to participate in World Vision Myanmar (WVM) child development activity in October 2009, when she was 6. When she turned 10, a child group was formed and she was assigned as an accountant for the group. Thu Thu has become the child group leader when the group was reformed in 2018. Children named their group “Silver Stars”.
“There were 28 of us in the group. We got awareness and training from World Vision staff on life skills, child protection and child rights, child safe online, environmental conservation, gender equality, etc. After receiving training, I led the group and shared the knowledge with other children who were not the members of the group,” Thu Thu shares.
As Thu Thu has led her group as well as helped World Vision Myanmar, she was selected as a child representative to participate in the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) forum, where she represented children in her community to present about the environmental issue faced by Myanmar and how World Vision has helped to improve the environment in her community. She is also one of the children representatives at the national-level children’s forum.
“I am happy to participate in those forums to discuss the issues we are facing and share our thoughts on how to address them. One of my proud moments is to be a youth representative at the GPDRR forum where I can talk about climate change in our country,” Thu Thu proudly says.
Thu Thu learned and studied hard without any extra teaching support and in 2019, She graduated from high school with high marks in Myanmar and Biology subjects.
I want to become a teacher, especially in the remote areas like Kayin state and Shan state where children have less opportunities in learning,
Thu Thu says.
MULTIPLYING EFFECTS IN THE COMMUNITY
Thu Thu joined Teacher’s Training College (TTC) at Myaung Mya to become a teacher. While attending 1st year, the school was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions and security concerns. Thu Thu temporarily stopped going to college.
“During my break, I started to learn art class online as I am interested in painting. I have finished the basic course and now started to learn portraits. I believe I can also contribute my painting skills to the children when I become a teacher,” she excitedly shares.
Now, schools are reopened but Thu Thu hasn’t rejoined the TTC yet. Instead, she is helping primary school students by guiding them to learn their school lessons in the evening. The reading club was organised by the community to help children learn together after school hours.
“I will rejoin TTC to fulfill my career and my dream as a teacher for children in remote areas. I will also continue my art training to become a skillful artist to portray the beauty of the landscape through my drawings” she smiles. “I now help World Vision as a Saving for Transformation (S4T) agent to monitor the saving groups in the communities.” Thu Thu adds.
A Family’s livelihood is important for a child to be developed holistically. Thu Thu’s parents were provided with livestock training, especially on how to raise chickens systematically. The family is now raising local chickens. World Vision supported the family with a chicken farm and vaccination. The family started with 10 chickens. Within two years, the number of chickens increased to 100.
The family replicated the technique and shared the breeds with the families who were interested to do the same. Ni Ni, Thu Thu’s mother also raises pigs with the women’s group and continues to grow vegetables such as long beans, roselle, chili, and ladies’ fingers. Thu Thu’s mother has become a woman leader of the Community-Based Organization (CBO) of her village and leads the group on community development activities including saving groups.
“I am proud to be a women leader in the village. Men do not want to take the lead and bother themselves. So, I was selected to be the leader and I am happy to do that. I am proud of my daughter as well, as she has become a role model in the village,” shares Ni Ni, Thu Thu’s mother.
“I am happy that my mom is also interested in community development work and leading the CBO. I am proud to be a child group leader. After learning and participating in the forum, I gain more confidence to lead the group. I feel like I have the ability and energy to lead the group as a child leader,” Thu Thu proudly says.
INSPIRING CHILDREN TO FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS
World Vision established a library in Thu Thu’s village and provided books. The library is utilised as a community centre where community members gather and conduct development activities.
“I love leading the child group. We are united. We usually meet once in two months and share knowledge. I also lead children and youth to participate in the tree planting activity on an environmental day. I want to encourage other children, especially girls to have self-confidence, self-reliance, and to believe in themselves so that they can follow their dreams,” Thu Thu shares, brimming with joy.
Thu Thu is always happy to represent WVM at the national level as well as at the regional level. She participated in the event where children representatives and WVM’s senior leadership team members and advisory council members met and presented the issues they were facing and recommended ways to address them.
It is not easy for a girl to pass high school with high marks. Thu Thu tried hard to pass the exam in order to pursue her dream. She wants to be the ideal girl for the family as well as for the community. She and her mom have devoted their time to community development as women leaders in the community.
“My expectation for my daughter is, to be able to make the right decision and not to follow the wrong teaching and direction. I and happy to see her passion of helping people and I want her to be a good leader for the community. As a mother, I will support her and guide her to continue her right path, Ni Ni smiles.
There are 45 households with 234 populations residing in Thu Thu’s village. Half of the families are farmers working in agriculture and livestock. The rest of the families is daily laborers. Access to schools and health facilities is not available in Thu Thu’s village. The villagers need to spend 20 minutes on a motorbike to reach the nearest rural health center. For health issues that the RHC could not handle, they have to travel by boat for more than 1 hour to get to the hospital in the nearby town.
WVM started its development intervention in Thu Thu’s village in 2010. The organisation has established the community-based child protection system for the community members to protect their own children, reading clubs for children to learn after school, providing health and nutrition assistance to pregnant mothers and under-five children, and agriculture and livestock training and inputs for the farmers. For the families to be able to access financial services, Saving for Transformation groups are established and the groups are trained on financial management. As of 2022, World Vision Myanmar has assisted 25,113 People including 6,470 children through education support, health and nutrition intervention, child protection assistance, and livelihood provision.