Daw Bella Htoo's Rise to Prosperity

Daw Bella Htoo being interviewed at Taunggyi, Shan State. © IOM 2023

Daw Bella Htoo, a 46-year-old resident of Tilin village in Di Mao Soe Township, Kayah State, is a mother of five with a family of seven. Engaged in farming and bush work to sustain her livelihood, Daw Bella's husband works in various fields, including lumber and lead mining.

In 2021, amid challenges, Daw Bella experienced a period of displacement due to conflict. Staying in Loi Ghak Hti village for a month, she later returned home to resume farming, only to face continued unrest in December. Seeking refuge in Aung Kalub, Shan State, with relatives, Daw Bella and her family endured harsh conditions, grappling with the heavy rain and struggling to secure basic necessities.

She expressed, "Blankets and jackets were really needed. Donors who bring food should be respected. We have to share everything to survive." After asking for a place in the relative’s farm and putting up a temporary shelter given by the donors, she expressed immense gratitude for the support received.

With her three children engaged in planting corn and odd jobs to make ends meet, Daw Bella faced the immense challenge of providing for her family. Her husband, grappling with depression, had stopped working, resorting to alcohol consumption. The daily struggle made it difficult to ensure both health and education for her children.

Support from Parami Development Network (PDN), IOM's partner in Shan that's supporting displaced populations* became a lifeline for Daw Bella. General expenses, including rice, oil, food, groceries for a month, and partial school fees for the children, were provided. The PDN assistance also allowed her to purchase necessary medicines for the family's health.

Participating in psychological counseling sessions facilitated by Parami, Daw Bella noticed a positive change in her family dynamics. The sessions brought a sense of calm, fostering open discussions. Encouraged by the support, her husband regained the motivation to return to work.

While the dream of returning to their hometown remains challenging due to various obstacles, including the destruction of their home and a family member's injury from a mine, Daw Bella is resilient. She aspires to teach her eldest daughter sewing and wishes for the expansion of the livestock industry. In a final plea for assistance, Daw Bella requests support for piglet food, recognizing its expense. She believes that with this support, her pig farming business can flourish and contribute significantly to her family's economic well-being.


*Note: The South-East is one of the areas of Myanmar most affected by the current political instability. Daw Bella Htoo is one of over 34,000 internally displaced and vulnerable individuals in Southern Shan that IOM and PDN have assisted with funding support from the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT).