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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hope overcomes uncertainty

Lahtaw standing in her vegetable garden, the source of her family's self-sufficiency.

Life reaches a new level of difficulty when the uncertainty associated with leaving everything behind seems less daunting than staying where you are.

Such is the case for families in Myanmar’s conflict-ridden northern Shan and Kachin states. The two states are embroiled in an ongoing conflict between ethnic groups and the government-led military of Myanmar.

Lahtaw and her family of nine were forced to leave everything behind as they fled the conflict in their area. Their journey, fraught with uncertainty, concluded when they arrived at the Hpum Lum Yang camp for displaced persons.

“When we arrived in Hpum Lum Yang, we had nothing. No land, no money, and no food,” says Lahtaw, recalling what it was like when she and her family first set foot in the camp three years ago.

Soon after, however, things began to change for Lahtaw and her family as they received help and starting building a new life within the relative safety of the camp.

“We were provided with a piece of land, seeds, and tools to start a backyard vegetable garden,” says Lahtaw. “We planted dill, mustard, long bean, tomato, parsley, eggplant cucumber, cabbage, and cauliflower, and had a good harvest!”

Lahtaw and her family also learned how to make organic fertilizer and natural insecticides for their garden, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers and insecticides, while at the same time, improving the quality of the soil and saving money.

“Since we started gardening, we have produced enough food to meet our needs. Our family is healthy and we are saving money too because we no longer buy vegetables from the market,” says Lahtaw.

Lahtaw and her family, now self-sufficient, won’t be returning to their original home any time soon given that the conflict that forced them to leave shows no signs of subsiding. But with the help they have received thus far, they are a building a new life in the camp. A life that is full of hope and significantly less uncertainty.