SENG

46665868_2222590871345975_4825203973881331712_o.jpg

How would your friends describe you?

I am a good singer and I'm cute and smart!! Sometimes I sing too much and annoy my friends.

What the biggest challenge you've overcome to get to this point?

Honestly, money! I'm afraid to be poor. When I was young I had to live with my friend's parents and work for them.

My parents divorced. I’ve never seen my dad’s face - he disappeared when I was tiny. I thought he was dead, but I found out in 2012 that he was working in Thailand. Soon after Dad left, Mum went to work in Kachin state and she was arrested for selling drugs and sent to prison.

So I worked every morning making soybean snacks at my friends house, then I would go to school every day, then work again after 4pm. I made the equivalent to 15THB per day which I spent on my uniform and tuition fees. You have to pay a tutor or they won't let you pass your exams. I sent some money to my grandparents too.

I've worked all my life. After I graduated I went to China to work as a waitress. I saved 22500THB to go to university, but I ended up spending it on my sister because she needed it for school.

Then I found a non-profit organisation that teaches Shan history and English and studied there for free, in Shan state. It was very strict there! I couldn’t drink or have boyfriends. I had to pay 40,000THB to them because I broke the rules and had a boyfriend. But because I didn't have any money they said I had to work for them as a teacher for two years. I had 150 students. The people at that organisation really looked down on me, and because I was poor they said I wouldn't be able to study anywhere else. So I said, let's see about that! I found work with a political party Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, and because of that experience I could apply for a scholarship to learn English at the university. SNLD paid 1150THB per month; I taught Shan to a rich family who paid me 1000THB a month; I also translated books between Burmese and Shan. All of the money I made, I saved to go to university. I even made bracelets and clothes to sell, and every kyat went into my savings.

Eventually I had enough money to apply to study in Thailand. I applied for several scholarships, but I didn't hear back from any organisation. The leader of SNLD gave me 15,000 THB because they were so grateful for my help - enough to make the trip and try my luck.

After I came here, I found out I couldn't get any scholarships, and everything was more expensive than I expected - rent, visa, everything. I was heartbroken and started getting ready to go back to Burma. Then  three days before I was going to leave, Daughters Rising emailed me and offered me a sponsorship - I was so happy and relieved.

Who inspires you and why?

My grandmother, because since I was young, she has supported all of her 6 granddaughters to go school, first with a clothes shop, and then by working in a farm. She always taught us not to drink, take drugs, gamble or spend all my time with boys, so that we stay focused and don't turn out like my mum.

I don’t really have a relationship with my parents. I called them when I arrived here in Thailand to see if they would support me, but they ignored my messages. Then, when my mum needed me because she couldn't work due to an injury, she asked me for money! It made me feel sad and angry. I feel like my grandmother is the one who has really been a mother to me.

My grandmother passed away two years ago and I miss her every day.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your money?

I would fix my house in Kachin state. It's very old and the roof leaks when it rains. Five of my sisters live there, and I wish I could make their life more pleasant.

They are not as brave as me so I would like to help them achieve their dreams. My little sister loves sewing and making traditional Shan clothing… I'd love to help to pay for her to study in Yangon so that she could be a designer.

I’d also really like my grandfather to stop working. I want him to be able to relax in his old age! 

seng2

How do you think Daughters Rising sponsorship has impacted your future?

I don't know how I can thank Daughters Rising. Before I knew about them I had to work constantly and worry about finding jobs to fund my studies. Now, I can concentrate on my studies without this anxiety and begin to think about how to chase my dreams.  

Alexa has looked after me so well. She threw a birthday party for me and always makes sure that I have everything I need - not only books, but clothes, bags - everything. She takes care of me as if I am family. 

What is your proudest achievement?

I feel proud of myself for the way that I have overcome all my problems by myself. I know that am so strong. No matter what, I can do what I need to do.

What is one thing you would change to make the world a better place?

The struggles of my family have shown me that people should be so sure when they get married that they really love each other. Then, they should love their children and look after them. When I was a teacher, many of my students had been sold to the army by their parents, because their parents had drug problems or didn't use contraceptives and couldn't afford to look after their children. There needs to be better health and sex education, and easier access to contraception. This would have a very positive impact in Burma.