Myanmar: Challenge accepted joyfully!

05 March 2021|Sr. Helen Doi Ling, JRS accompaniment officer in Myanmar

Mary is working on her knitted slippers while taking care of her kids at home in Kachin. (2020)

I am Sr. Helen, the accompaniment officer of JRS. As I always visit the camps and conduct home visits, I heard many hardships faced by the IDPs which were compounded by COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was a little bit overwhelmed, however, this does not stop me to accompany IDPs in many alternative ways. I phoned some camp leaders and women to get regular updates from them at the same time to listen to their concerns. Most concerns were related to daily food and health, as it is difficult to find job and some IDPs who went to China border to work came back to camps because the borders were closed down. Another concern for them is children’s education as schools remain closed, and how to handle their kids in this situation. 

Since big group gathering is not allowed and there is restriction to enter camps, I encouraged some men and woman who are interested and would like to share to other people in their neighbourhood. Eleven of them showed interest and I accompanied them weekly through online based on some concerns they raised. They then led the sharing session with their neighbours focusing on self-care and parenting skill.  

I feel joyful when I saw some small gardens created by IDPs whom JRS supported with some seeds of vegetables and taught how to make fertilizers out of kitchen wasteOne woman said, “I am happy seeing vegetable growing each day. It also saves some money for our daily food as we get some vegetables from our small garden.” 

Later on, some women told me that they want to learn new skill on how to make slippers. So, I contacted trainer and arranged hand-on training for them. One of the IDP women who was interested to learn is “Mary”, a 32 years old woman who is a mother of 7 children. She said, “I want to learn how to make slippers. I am also interested in knitting and I want to give to elderly people.” After learning how to make slippers, she combined her skills in creating beautiful knitted slippers.

I am very happy that I am doing something which I am interested to do while staying at home taking care of my kids. I am thinking I will make more and will go and sell in the villages at the mountain.
Mary, a 32-year-old IDP mother of 7 at Kachin state, Myanmar

Usually, it is difficult for women with small children to get a job because no one wants to hire them here. Even if they are offered a job, they cannot do it while taking care of their kids and household chores. I focus on those women to accompany them to identify what they want to do, what they already know and support with needed skills and materials in a small-scale basis. 

This pandemic will not end soon. It will be a long journey. Yet, I am ready to challenge myself to serve more with the grace of God! And I am grateful to JRS for giving me such valuable opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters in need. 


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