Mother-of-four Daw Khin Aye Sein, 51, lives with her family in the fishing village of Min Hla, a few miles up-river from the town of Sittwe, capital of Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state.
They were one of 42 households in their village to receive Red Cross livelihoods cash grants as part of programme helping communities impacted by flooding, cyclical violence and population movement in Rakhine.
“In our family there are seven of us: myself and my husband, our four children, and one grandchild, but at the moment only three of us are able to bring in any income.
This village is very poor, and access to good health and education services is a problem for all of us.
The Red Cross grant we received was for US$120 and then we also put in US$40 of our own money to buy two male piglets.
The pigs have grown quite a lot and now we could sell them for around $150 each, but I think if we wait another ten months or they will grow even more and hopefully then we can sell them for about US$300 each.
That means we will get about US$600 in total when we do eventually sell them.
We’ll use some of that money to buy two more piglets and use the rest to invest in our weaving business. There are lots of things we need to buy to build up our weaving work, like thread and new parts for the loom
We weave day and night. As long as we can weave we can make money. At the moment there is very high demand for our fabric. The more we can work, the more we can produce, and the more money we can make.
We already produce very fine material so we can’t really improve the quality, it is mostly about increasing the volume of production and making sure we have the materials and equipment to do that.
At the moment we haven’t made any extra income from the pigs, but we are using them as a way to store money and to grow the original investment.
The pigs generate a really good return, but keeping them is not free; we need to feed them every day and look after them if they get sick, and we have to wait a long time to see the concrete financial benefit.
In hindsight we should probably have invested the grant money directly into the weaving business rather than buying the pigs; waiting for them to mature takes such a long time. But hopefully when we do sell them we will get a good payback.
People in the village here are poor and it’s difficult to get by with just one source of income, so we have to do several different jobs like weaving and farming and fishing.
The support from the Red Cross has definitely been useful and helpful for our family, and it’s been good for the village as a whole.
I’ve seen myself that the people doing fishing and weaving who received the grants are doing really well, its helped build people’s lives and livelihoods.
People are making enough money to save some each month to either reinvest in their businesses or to put aside in case they need it in the future.”