In the last months of 2016, teenage sisters Aung Zin (14) and Win Kyaw (16) noticed that their mother was getting closer to a neighbour woman, who worked as a food hawker selling pork stews.

Word spread that the neighbour was moving to Yangon—Myanmar’s former capital and most populous city with over five million residents—a place with significantly more economic and educational opportunities than Aung Zin and Win Kyaw’s hometown in Mandalay province.

“My mother told me and my sister that this lady was to take us to Yangon with her, so that we [could] get education at a pagoda,” Win Kyaw says.

Members only

Log in or

Join New Naratif as a member to continue reading


We are independent, ad-free and pro-democracy. Our operations are member-funded. Membership starts from just US$5/month! Alternatively, write to sponsorship@newnaratif.com to request a free sponsored membership. As a member, you are supporting fair payment of freelancers, and a movement for democracy and transnational community building in Southeast Asia.

Didem Tali

Didem Tali is a journalist covering the global economy, culture, gender, and displacement issues around the world. See more her stories at www.didemtali.com and follow her on Twitter @didem_tali.