I am 13 years old, have seven siblings and live in Myanmar. Some of them are staying in townships far away from us. My father passed away from COVID-19. When he died, we got a loan from someone for our house and moved out. If we can’t pay it back, they get to keep it. We then rented a small platform from the owner of the house on stilts above it. The platform didn’t have walls, so we covered the sides with material and plastic. Living there was not safe and secure at all. My mother was so worried about me when we lived there.
I should be at school in 7th standard, but my school is closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. I like mathematics more than other subjects and my favorite teacher is my maths teacher because she teaches her students like they are her own children. I have two best friends. I could not afford tuition fees like my friends because my family is poor and struggling with living costs. My neighbours supported me with school bags, books and stationery so I could go to school. I do hope to become a doctor no matter how difficult it will be, I will try my best.
I offer alms to Buddha and pray in the morning. When I was at school, I used to eat three meals a day, but now my school is closed and we don't have enough money, so I only eat twice a day. Sometimes I go to bed on an empty stomach. Now I work to help my mother. I miss my teachers and I'm so sad that I’m not going to school. I feel I am going to lose hope of becoming a doctor. I work during the day and read books and listen to songs when I have free time. When I feel sad, I open up to my friends at work and they try to make me happy by telling jokes. After work, I usually help my mother with household chores like washing clothes, carrying water and cooking.
I think girls are more at risk than boys. We are always treated worse than men. For instance, men earn more money than women for doing the same job. I am paid 800 or 900 Kyats (50 cents) a day, but the men doing the same work get 2,500 Kyats ($1.50). For boys, they can go wherever they want, but for girls, we have to think about the potential risks on the way and prepare ahead.
One day, some women came to our place and asked my mother about our situation and what our difficulties and challenges are. The women told us about their organisation, Nway Htwe Thaw Yin Kwin, and that they run gender equality and women’s empowerment projects with the support of CARE Myanmar. The project helps women with cash for food and medical costs and gives temporary shelter. Now my mother and I are staying in the women friendly shelter with the support of the organisation and we are not worried about food or our safety. I am hoping my school opens soon. I am trying to save money so that I can go back to school when it does open.