Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Latrine for a Family in Need

Thu Zar Soe and her daughter will enjoy a healthier life because they received a latrine.

Thu Zar Soe and her daughter will enjoy a healthier life because they received a latrine.

A woman in an impoverished village in Myanmar is grateful to receive a latrine from Samaritan’s Purse.

“Whatever we do here, we are in unity,” said Thu Zar Soe in describing life in her rural village on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River in central Myanmar.

However, the sense of community in the village is rooted in the shared, extreme challenges that come every year.

The Ayeyarwady River, which is their main source of livelihood, causes extreme flooding during rainy season. Despite living in homes built on wooden stilts, storms and floods are often so intense that families are forced to flee their homes.

Thu Zar Soe, 27, is a strong, caring wife and mother who has worked in her village as a weaver and seamstress her entire life. During rainy season, when her family is driven from their home and forced to abandon their belongings and cattle to floodwaters, Thu Zar Soe said she feels helpless.

Her family cannot afford a boat, so even when flooding is mild they are often stranded. With no boat, a toddler to care for, and a business to maintain, Thu Zar Soe dreads rainy season.

Thu Zar Soe's daughter

Thu Zar Soe’s daughter was often sick because of unsanitary conditions.

Her family does not have a latrine, and because she cannot afford materials strong enough to withstand the floods, her attempts to build a latrine are always washed away. Thu Zar Soe’s family, like many in the community, have to defecate outside in a pit.

Lack of latrines increases the spread of disease. When Thu Zar Soe’s daughter was younger she frequently suffered from diarrhea. Unsanitary conditions worsen during rainy season.

Several weeks ago, the village authority announced that Samaritan’s Purse was coming to Thu Zar Soe’s village to help construct latrines for 10 households and to provide hygiene and menstrual health training to the entire community.

Thu Zar Soe was thrilled when she heard the news. As a child, she loved learning and going to school, but stopped attending because she lived far away and her family couldn’t afford to send her. Loving to learn as she still does, and being concerned for her family’s health, Thu Zar Soe was eager to participate in the Samaritan’s Purse training.

Thu Zar Soe enjoyed the training, soaking in everything the trainers taught and learning as much as she could in order to teach her family.

She was filled with joy when it was decided that her family would be one of the households to receive a latrine. They are among the poorest families in the village. Thu Zar Soe could not contain her excitement and immediately told her husband the good news.

She is grateful to Samaritan’s Purse for stepping in and helping her family. “We had no way to change [our situation],” Thu Zar Soe said.

Thanks to Samaritan’s Purse, Thu Zar Soe’s child will grow up healthier, happier, and with more dignity. Thu Zar Soe’s biggest hope for her daughter is that she will have all the educational opportunities that she was denied growing up.

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