Poverty in Myanmar: Should we blame our parents for being poor?
Poverty is still one of the main obstacles for most of the developing countries. Everyone might not be born from a rich family who used to cut the placenta at birth with gold scissor and gold tray, which is one of the Myanmar Proverbs. Even if we were born from a poor family, do you think we should blame or complain to our parents for being poor? Is it their fault if they were so poor and lived such a difficult life? I don’t think they like their daily life so much, struggling hard for treating one meal to their children and not having enough space for them to sleep. Let’s see what will happen next to this kind of family.
You may see many young children who work in teashops as waiter in Yangon and other big city. You might not imagine what is their story, and how they end up working in teashops or as manual stevedores although they should be in class. Most of them were born from poor family whose parents are illiterate and have many siblings, sometimes more than 5 children for one family. You may wonder why they have so many children although they cannot feed them all and even cannot take care of those children. The answer is pretty simple; they have no idea about family planning as they are illiterate, and they didn’t get a chance to know about it, which finally results in unwanted pregnancy and unwanted children.
Can you imagine how they take care of their children? Elder children are taking care of younger ones. Both parents are outside starting from early morning till night and struggling for money to buy a meal to feed their children so they could survive another day. Some of the children die in their youth due to malnutrition and diarrhea, which are the consequences of uncontrolled birth and improper care. This will lead to high rate of under 5 years old children mortality, which is still the main challenge for the health sector in Myanmar.
When they grow up around teen age, at an age when they should be going to school, they just end up doing chores in some warehouse or working as a waiter in teashops. Do you think that these kids are happy to do this kind of jobs while other children are going to school? The answer is obviously NO, they are not happy to do this, but as they may be the eldest children of the family their parents send them to work instead of school to earn money to support the family and their siblings. Why do parents let their children work at such a young age? Probably because they just think that earning some extra money could relieve the hunger for the whole family.
Actually, it is not a solution in the long run, how much money could a child earn and is it really effective in supporting the whole family? The money earned could relieve the hunger of the family in the short run but these working kids can’t get a good job when they grow older, as they didn’t have a chance to study how to read and write, they don’t have vocational skills or any proper training to get a decent salary. As a result, they just end up working as a stevedore for their whole life.
If they have had a chance to study when they were young or they have had some vocational skill and training, they could meet some miracle chance to turn their life into better stage. If so, should they blame their parents who didn’t give them a chance to go to school? I think they didn’t want to let their children work. They only sent them to work to relieve the family burden, they simply don’t have a long-term vision for their family, and they just see the current situation, as they don’t have knowledge, since they also didn’t have the chance to study when they were young.
Could you imagine when such children grow older and make a family on their own, how will they handle their family life? Surely most of them will go the same way as their parents did, but there will be a small percentage who can break through this never ending cycle and built a new stage for their life. I think education and knowledge plays a crucial role to cut this poverty cycle.
I saw some people who are helping their parents’ business on street stalls when they have free time. But they are educated people and some are even graduated from university. Their parents might not be educated but they have a long-term vision for their family. They let their children go to school instead of working.
I believe this kind of family will make a drastic change in their life and show the whole community that poverty can be broken down by someone’s own efforts and knowledge, as long as they struggle in the right direction. I just hope that most of the people in Myanmar have such knowledge and make an effort to change their life into a better life. Even if they can only change their own life, if many of them do so as well, it is enough to fight poverty as a whole country. Studying when you have a chance and learning at least one vocational skill and training is enough to fight poverty.
Written by Mingalapar forum team writer