Theresa's Journey of Hope amidst Myanmar's Political Challenges

Theresa and her daughter in Taunggyi, Shan State. © IOM 2023

Theresa and her livestock in Taunggyi, Shan State. © IOM 2023

The political instability that has been affecting Myanmar since 2021 has proved difficult for communities across the country, including those from border areas between Shan and Kayah states. Theresa, a mother of two from Shan’s Pekon Township, across from Kayah State, moved to an internally displaced person’s (IDP) site in Taunggyi in Shan. “We often heard fighting and explosions because our home in Pekon was close to a conflict area, so we fled to Taunggyi for our safety. My husband remains there to secure our home, and at the same time, he is also working and sending us remittances.”

Upon arriving at the IDP site, Theresa built a small hut to lodge in with the support of other Kayah people who also left their homes. “It was really freezing there and we were getting sick. When we first arrived, some people already there gave us some food. But I was very sad at having to stay in this desolate area surrounded by hills.”

Theresa explained that though the initial period of settlement was tough, their situation eventually stabilized with the support she received from Parami Development Network, IOM's partner in Shan that's supporting displaced populations.* “The rice and oil we received truly helped to ease our burden. The health examinations, medicine and blankets, especially, as they helped to ensure the well-being of my precious children.”

Hoping to supplement her income, she attended a farming and animal husbandry training, as well as received coaching on using these skills for income generation. “I received some small capital which I’m using to breed livestock, such as chickens and pigs. I hope to get some extra income from this, and I also plan to use what I learned once I’m able to go back home.”

Though local organizations are doing their best to support, many needs remain at IDP sites, such as for healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure. “There are many families with children living here, and with high demand for water, the camp sometimes runs out of petrol to run the water pumps.”

Theresa of course hopes to one day be able to return to her home. “I need to enroll my kids in school as they are almost old enough.” While the situation remains challenging, she remains determined to make it through this. “It’s not easy here but we have to do any job we can find or think of. Most of us here can brew Kayah millet wine and make Kayah sausages. If there is demand for these, we can support our livelihoods.”


*Note: The South-East is one of the areas of Myanmar most affected by the current political instability. Theresa 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).