My name is Ma Tin Aye (41 years old). My husband is Ko Myint Naing (46 years old). We have seven children – four daughters and three sons. We lived in a small village in Irrawaddy Region, Myanmar. We came to Thailand in 2008 to seek a job, and now it has been nearly six years working in Thailand.
As transportation cost was high for us, we had to borrow 200,000 Kyat from friends and relatives to cover our costs. We are still paying back our debt to our friends and relatives.
We decided to find a better life in Thailand because living life in our own country was hard. Only three family members worked to earn 4,500 Kyat (180 baht) per day, where as the rest were learning at school. Often my family had to ask money in advance from work in order to meet our family’s daily life. Since we did not possess a piece of land to build our house we came to Mae Sot in search of better life here.
We first lived in Phop Phra Distict in Mae Sot. Our employer provided us a piece of land from his own land to live on. Initially three of us worked with him, earning 240 baht per day. We worked in agriculture and logging. We knew that logging is illegal in Thailand, but we had no other choice and did what our boss ordered to do so. We worked for him for three years when one day my husband was arrested by the forestry authority for illegal logging and put him in jail for six years. Somehow, our employer escaped from arrest.
My husband has been in jail for three years. Since the incident we have faced many difficulties, especially with language barriers, low wages, and financial problems. Since we came here without legal documents, we had to find a way to get a work permit, which also cost us a lot.
With my husband in jail I am the one responsible for the family. Two of my children have to work, earning between 100-120 baht per day. The whole family needs to depend on their income too. At the same time, I have to take responsibility of my husband by seeing him twice a month. That costs me around 3,000 Baht monthly buying his necessities (foods, etc). So I had to ask one of my sons to dropout from school and work. Right now we barely can pay the interest fee to the moneylender and my health and my youngest children’s health condition are not great either.
Fortunately, in 2013 my neighbor introduced me to JRS where I sought help from the organization. I have explained my situation and received necessary support from them. At the initial stage, my family decided to start pig raising. I received start-up support from JRS including piglets, pig food, pig medicine, and other essentials needed while JRS also does a monthly monitoring visit to my farming site.
I chose this income generation activity because of my previous experience in this work and my personal interest and motivation as well. This activity is good for a person like me as I can still earn some income by staying at home with my poor health condition.
I have benefits and challenges with this income generating activity. I have learned how to manage my family’s expenses efficiently by with training by JRS. I now adjust accordingly my family’s income and expenses. I can now pay back the debt I had before and cover the costs of my husband.
My personal views on JRS are that JRS is willing to work together with a beneficiary. JRS is willing to provide me with knowledge and skills to perform well. On top of that, I have also learnt financial management and business planning, which is helpful for my personal development. Again, I personally want to show my gratitude to JRS for helping me through this income generation activity. I wish to continue my pig farming until I return to Myanmar one day.
I wish to see my husband released from prison soon. Within three-years I want to save around 30,000 Baht so then I will be able to buy a piece of land in Myanmar and settle down. Finally I wish to see political, social, and economic change in my country soon too.