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From surviving to thriving in Myanmar

Asar Mi is always on the move. She never stops – whether she’s feeding her peckish pigs, taking her rice to the mill and on to the market, or making repairs to her home.

A woman from Myanmar feeds two pigs

Photo: Christian Aid/Kaung Htet

Despite the temperature of almost 40°C she appeared cool and calm, serious almost, which is unsurprising since she is the head of her household, with four children and a husband to provide for.

Her purse lips and poker face broke, revealing a wide, bursting smile. Asar Mi is steadfast and spirited – a strong woman.

Thanks to your donations during Christian Aid Week 2012, the UK Government promised to match the first £5 million £1 for £1 and it is this UK Aid Match support that is now helping Asar Mi build a successful business.

‘It affects your dignity’

Life was hard for Asar Mi. With her husband working across the border in China, she had to beg and borrow from friends just to make ends meet.

‘It affects your dignity,’ she recalls. ‘I felt a lot of pressure. I faced a lot of challenges alone. My first priority is always the children.’

Many people in her village and right across the country depend on farming and raising livestock to feed, clothe, house, educate and care for themselves and their families.

Making ends meet is a constant struggle, meaning many households slide deeper into debt, forced to sell their precious possessions.

In Myanmar, a quarter of people live below the poverty line.

‘I had to borrow from friends. It was hard. They asked a lot of questions - I made a lot of promises.’

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Reaping rewards

Thanks to our partner Metta, Asar Mi received a loan of £240 and began rearing pigs.

‘I was so happy with the support because I knew we could make money from this activity. I bought a pregnant pig. She gave birth to eight piglets.’

She also received training in animal care – to keep her pigs healthy. Slowly but surely her pig rearing business is reaping rewards. Every six months she earns on average around £500 from selling her pigs.

‘I have used the profit to pay our living costs and pay off debts. This year, I have no debts. I’ve used the income to renovate our toilet, to repair fencing and to buy more pigs.’

This vital source of income not only pays for an education for her children but also supports her second business - buying and selling rice.

A brighter future

Metta’s work focuses on a wide range of livelihood activities from pig rearing and poultry farming, to seasonal crop cultivation.

To date, more than 21,000 people in Myanmar have benefitted from Metta’s support. People just like Asar Mi, who - thanks to her commitment and hard work - is now safeguarding her family’s future.

We want to help poor people to move beyond survival and subsistence, to enjoy thriving and dignified lives.

This means making a living in ways that provide adequate and predictable food and income, safe and healthy living conditions, and the resources and confidence to take new opportunities as they arise. In short: a resilient livelihood.

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