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5 October 2022 - Story

Thawdar’s story: Humanitarian emergency response

Thawdar at a camp in Kayah State, Myanmar

The sun was scorching, and it was around 2 PM. Thawdar* saw people were moving along the way. She did not expect that she also needed to flee from home at that time.

“When I was working on harvesting corns in the field, my aunt came and told us that we also needed to flee. It was urgent and couldn’t take so many things. My mother packed some clothes, pots and plates. Then, we left our home,” Thawdar recalled her memories.

She added: “As my father had not enough money in hand, he borrowed some money from my uncle. Then, we moved to this village by a transport tractor”.

Thawdar, who could not be in the classroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts in Myanmar, is now turning 14 years old. She is the eldest daughter of her family who has a slight wave shape hair and a friendly face. She has a younger sister and two younger brothers.

Her parents are daily wages workers and work at other owners' farms for family income. Thawdar also helps her parents by working at the farm. She was attending Grade 8 before the pandemic. But now, she became an internally displaced person who lived at a camp due to the fighting in Kayah State.

They have been living at the camp since they fled from their village and cannot return home so far. Although they get a space for living, they still have concerns. About her fears of living at the camp, she said: “The biggest worry would be food. I am afraid of hunger”.

At the camp in which Thawdar lived, most people were displaced from various villages and wards of conflict-affected areas of Kayah. Before Save the Children arrived at that camp, a local charity group and the community or individuals mostly helped them for food.

“Mostly, we received food from donations, but it is not always. Once there was no donated food in hand, I asked for help from the villagers and took some vegetables from their garden,” Thawdar said.

Thawdar’s mother, Daw Merry*, 36 years, said: “The major need is food. If we do not have enough food to eat, what we should do here. Sometimes I felt sad when I didn’t have money to buy medicines or snacks my children wanted.”

Daw Merry revealed she constantly worries about meals and security concerns as a mother of four children.

“The price of rice is high, and it would also be difficult for us when we have no income while we are living at the camp. We will be needed to buy rice later when there is  no donation. I pray that there would continue some donations of rice for us.”

Save the Children has started preparing the emergency response in July, 2021. Save the Children’s humanitarian emergency response team distributed rice of bags, Non-food items such as tarpaulins sheet, water buckets and household items, Hygiene kits, cash and COVID 19 testing kits. Save the Children has also provided cash and rice bags for the displaced families.

Daw Merry said: “The amount of rice they [Save the Children] provided is enough one month for my family. While my youngest child was sick and needed some money to buy medicines, receiving this help meant a lot. I am glad and don’t know how to describe my feeling.”

“At the moment, my mother and I are delighted that we received a rice bag and some cash from them [Save the Children]. We will also buy some items like oil, salt and soap by using this money.” Thawdar added to her mother’s words.

The 14 years old girl is still hoping to go back home and want to attend school, and she also wishes that this will end and all the things the children and their families lost would be got back in their hands soon.

Save the Children has been working in Myanmar since 1995, providing life-saving healthcare, food, education and child protection programmes through more than 50 partners and 950 staff across the country. Save the Children and our partners implement programmes on children’s access to health care, education and nutrition services, and on ensuring children are kept safe, their rights are fulfilled, and they are lifted out of poverty.