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Lwin, a girl from a Myanmar fishing village
 
Looking longingly at her old, dusty school uniform, 15-year-old Lwin says: "I really like this school uniform. I miss my school and my classmates."

Six years ago, Lwin's family faced a dramatic change. Her father suddenly had a stroke, and the burden of caring for a family of six fell on her mother's shoulders. Lwin's eldest sister Mi Too is already married. As the second oldest girl in the family, Lwin had to drop out of school to help her mother with work and take care of her two sisters and her youngest brother.

Whenever a fishing boat is docked, Lwin and her mother are at their busiest. They go to work at a dry fish production site behind their home. Young Lwin is good with a knife, and she helps her mother gut rows of fish before drying them.

The fishing village Lwin calls home has poor sanitation, and malaria is rampant there. Lwin was infected with malaria three years ago. On the day of our visit, her mother was weak with malaria. Lwin can't cope with going to work and doing the housework by herself, so her sister Mi Too, who lives nearby, rushed back to help.

Lwin's two younger sisters are currently enrolled in elementary school, and their textbooks are like food for her soul. Thirsting for knowledge, Lwin takes time to read these precious textbooks, hoping that she can resume her education one day. With determination in her eyes, she says, "I really want to go back to school and I hope to become a teacher in the future."

Every child has the right to education. However, many children living in poor communities are out of school because they are busy helping with their family's livelihoods; this deprives them of a normal childhood. Lwin is one of these children. We invite you to take part in the 30-Hour Famine and transform the lives of children like Lwin, allowing them to enjoy their basic rights.
 


Lwin's father suddenly suffered a stroke six years ago. Their family faced a difficult situation, so she was forced to drop out of school. Lwin and her sister work at a dry fish production site to help their family.

 


Lwin cut herself on a knife while doing her job, leaving scars on her arm. At this age, she should be holding a pen at a school desk, not holding a sharp knife to do hazardous work.

 
 
 
A hidden family in an oil palm grove
 
In an oil palm grove in a village in Myanmar, there is a wooden stilt house, where 11-year-old Cho lives with her single mother Win (36) and five brothers and sisters.

Four years ago, Win's husband was attacked on his way home and died of severe injuries and blood loss. With her five children in tow, Win left her sorrows behind and came to live in this village.

In a vulnerable state, Win met a man who promised to take care of her family. However, when she became pregnant with his child, the man left her. In desperation, Win once considered having an abortion. After learning about her plight, members of the local Community-based Organisation extended a helping hand and encouraged her to give birth to the child.

In order to cope with a family of seven, Win has multiple jobs. She works on farms, collects water from the well and sells it house-to-house, helps villagers to do laundry, and sells the seeds she collects from oil palms. With her income of 2,000-5,000 kyat (around RM5-RM13), even providing three meals a day is a problem. Much of the time, Win's family must make do with rice mixed with salt. Sometimes when there isn't enough rice, Win would rather go hungry so her children can have food. In the long run, the family will face the problem of malnutrition.

Busy with making ends meet, Win has little time to care for her children. Daughter Cho, who is in the third grade this year, says, "I like school very much. But I don't go every day. Whenever my mother goes out to work, I need to stay at home to care for my younger siblings." Cho looks after her siblings herself, so inevitably there are mishaps. Four days before our visit, her four-year-old sister Thwe was playing alone when she accidentally knocked over a pot of hot oil and scalded her head, leaving a large and shocking scar.

Win did not receive an education, but she believes that knowledge can change futures. She has great expectations for her children, saying, "I hope my children can go to school." Cho agrees. "I hope to go to school every day. I really want a bicycle so I can go to school."

With the care and assistance of World Vision and her fellow villagers, Win's hope has been rekindled and she faces life boldly. Win's name means "victory" in English, and indeed, she won't be easily defeated. With an optimistic attitude and great confidence, she is striving to overcome the difficulties in her life.

In the forgotten corners of the world, there are many families like Win's. Because of a lack of education, they are not aware of their own rights and live in a fragile state. With little livelihood knowledge and few skills, they can't get good employment opportunities or improve their lives, keeping them trapped in poverty. The 30-Hour Famine invites you to see the world poor communities live in, listen to their needs and speak up for them!
 


After losing her husband four years ago, Win brought her children to live a secluded life in this oil palm grove.

 


Whenever her mother goes out to work, Cho (right) has to miss class and stay home to take care of her younger siblings.

 
 
 
In poor communities in Myanmar and many other countries, Lwin and Cho's stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Although Myanmar has fertile land and abundant natural resources, it has been impacted by droughts, floods and civil strife. As a result, Myanmar ranks 145 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index and is considered a least-developed country.

According to the World Bank, Myanmar's poverty rate in 2015 was estimated at 32%. There are many causes for this poverty, such as limited life skills, low agricultural productivity and poor infrastructure.

Poverty doesn't just affect livelihoods, but also leads to food insecurity for children and families, the risk of malnutrition, and a negative impact on children's education opportunities. Many children living in poverty are unable to go to school because they have to help with housework or even work for a living. Parents are unable to care for their children because they are busy with their livelihoods or migrate to other countries to make a living, exposing children to various risks.

In light of these facts, the 30-Hour Famine 2019 will focus on the following areas to understand how poverty impacts:

Focus Issue : Food Insecurity

Food insecurity exists when people do not have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. In developing countries, poor communities have neither the resources to produce food nor the ability to buy food to feed their families. Because poor communities do not have enough food to eat, they do not have the physical strength to work or produce. Therefore, they are unable to improve their lives and will continue to live in poverty.
 
Focus Issue: Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a medical condition where the body is unable to maintain normal functions due to a lack of nutritious food. Due to a lack of knowledge on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and limited access to medical services, maternal and child nutrition is poor. Children who are malnourished are four times more likely to die from infectious diseases than a well-nourished child.
 
Focus Issue: Child abuse and violence

Violence deprives children of their dignity, rights, potential and future, impacting their lives, health and educational opportunities. It is one of the biggest problems affecting children around the world today. Children, in any environment and any country, are the most vulnerable group in the face of violence. This is particularly true for children who live in extreme poverty, especially girls
 
To change this state of affairs for the better, World Vision is working to improve the well-being of children and communities in need through the development of clean water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, and livelihoods.

World Vision invites you to take part in the 30-Hour Famine 2019. By fasting and fundraising, you can help families like Lwin's and Cho's to overcome their challenges and live life in all its fullness.
 
 

World Vision is an international Christian relief, development, and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to overcome poverty and injustice. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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