Is proud to have an income of her own
A self-help group, a grant and gender awareness. Those were the components that changed Shwe Sin Myint’s and her family’s life. Now she is running her own business and instead of telling her to take care of the home and not to waste time on working – her husband is helping out with the household chores.
“When I wanted to contribute to the family’s economy by working, my husband used to tell me not to worry. ‘Don’t you worry, I take care of that. You take care of the household’ he used to say. Now he is helping me with whatever is needed in the business or at home, ironing, cooking and washing”, says Shwe Sin Myint.
Lives in a poor area
Shwe Sin Myint is 28 years, and ever since she was a teenager she wanted to sew. Now she is married and has three children. When she got married her mother bought her a sewing machine, but since Shwe Sin Myint lacked training she could only make simpler clothes for her family, such as sarongs and loose-fit trousers.
Shwe Sin Myint lives in a small village, consisting of about 60 households. The family used to live on the crops from their small rice field and from the husbands earnings as a motorcycle taxi driver.
Save money together
But five years ago Shwe Sin Myint had the possibility to join a self-help group, organised by Diakonia’s partner organisation World Concern Myanmar, WCM. The idea is that the group grow a fund by saving money together. The target is to save at least 500 kyat (around 0,35 dollar) each per week. The fund is used for the group member’s needs, such as education, health or something urgent. The interest for the loan is only one percent, compared to the five percent the women would have to pay in other places.
But WCM has also provided many trainings for the group, such as on how to do a business plan, bookkeeping and vocational training. Shwe Sin Myint has received a one-month sewing training in the nearest town Putao. She has also received a grant from WCM to buy a sewing machine and in only four months she earned about 200 USD on her new business.
No longer needs to rely on the husband
“As I have my own income, I no longer need to rely on my husband. And I do not need to worry about the money I am supposed to save. Before, I had to struggle to be able to save even 500 kyats per week. Now I can put aside 1000 kyats or 2000 kyats per week.
Integrated with the self-help groups, WCM has also worked to raise the gender awareness in the area. Both men and women have been invited to those meetings. Shwe Sin Myint’s husband started to change his behaviour after attending the meetings.
The husband has changed
“I used to live with in constant anxiety. My husband used to drink and smoke and was often aggressive. He also rode long stretches with passengers on his taxi motorbike even though he had been drinking. All that has stopped now.”
Shwe Sin Myint says her husband realised that drinking and smoking was a waste of money. Instead of drinking and bullying the family he now puts his energy in work.
“We are a happy family now. Since I have an income my husband no longer have to drive the motor cycle taxi during the rainy season. I was always worried something would happen to him, due to the risk for landslides. And I feel proud that my work contributes to our living”, says Shwe Sin Myint.