A lack of education and necessary skills left Tin Tin Aye hailing from Hpa-an within the Kayin State, Myanmar living within limited means. With her own family struggling financially, when Tin Tin Aye married and bore 5 children, access to appropriate funds became more of an issue.
In an attempt to alleviate their situation, her husband opted to seek employment overseas in Malaysia. In order to do this Tin Tin Aye and her family had to borrow funds from local money lenders who charge high interest rates to be able to afford to send her husband to work for an agency abroad. The first money lender they encountered cheated them and took their money. The second time round, Tin Tin Aye’s family were successful but their debt had increased. What was meant to be a way to get Tin Tin Aye and her family out of debt turned out to be an unsuccessful venture. Her husband’s wages were not enough to cover the expenses back home, and the separation was hard. With the decision made for Tin Tin Aye’s husband to return home and seek work locally, her husband’s health deteriorated resulting in more funds needed to be borrowed from the local money lender incurring more debt.
In a relatively hopeless situation with Tin Tin Aye’s children growing older and their fees becoming more expensive, Tin Tin Aye became desperate. With the lack of relevant skills to secure employment of her own, Tin Tin Aye turned to gambling – an activity against government regulation. Losing the majority of money she gambled away, Tin Tin Aye’s family, friends and neighbours started mocking and criticizing her. Finally, Tin Tin Aye decided to turn to God and prayed for him to open up a way for her.
Unexpectedly, Tin Tin Aye received a brochure outlining ADRA Myanmar’s project aptly named ‘Vocational Training to Support Livelihoods’ (VTSL) which was being implemented within the local area aimed at disadvantaged youth who are unable to continue their education or lack relevant skills in order to seek employment for income generation purposes. Tin Tin Aye immediately signed up for sewing training that was at no cost to her and was selected to take part as a beneficiary in the project.
Inspired by one of her trainers who encouraged Tin Tin Aye to work hard and do her best, Tin Tin Aye became a determined student. The sewing training providing training in how to sew garments, life skills training and small business skills training. As Tin Tin Aye began to excel as a result of her training, she was able to open up her own shop aptly named ‘KOO’.
Within the first month, Tin Tin Aye’s income was 30,000 kyats, increasing each month thereafter. After three months, her income increased to 100,000 kyats. With this new found income, Tin Tin Aye and her husband were able to support their children and their family as well as pay off all their prior debts. Free of resorting to gambling for unreliable monetary benefit, Tin Tin Aye now has the skills she needs to start her own business, and as a result has a sustainable income to contribute to affording her families expenses. Tin Tin Aye is a more positive person with a newfound attitude and zest for life. Upon reflection, Tin Tin Aye stated that, “time is so precious to me, I am very proud of myself as I can also contribute to supporting my family together with my husband”.