Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

All sewn up: Former child labourer’s tailor-made success story

Education is one of our strongest tools to end child poverty. Meet Ma Nwe, a former child labourer who is now on the road to success, receiving the education she deserves.

Below we explain Ma Nwe’s experiences as a child labourer and how education has helped her learn the skills to follow her dreams.

 

From child labourer to dressmaker

 

Ma Nwe has a big smile as she admires her new sewing machine. It’s a fine-looking Singer with a shiny gold and black body.

For the 20-year-old dressmaking student (pictured above) the machine represents a new beginning. For the first time in a long time the future looks good. Really good.

A new life, and a new home for her mum and sisters, Ma Nwe imagines. And, one day, a tailor shop for herself.

How different things are now, compared to just a few months ago when she was working seven days a week at a manufacturing factory, checking the quality of drinking flasks, day in, day out.

It had been her job for the past seven years, since she was 13 years old.

 

Leaving school to earn an income

 

At the age of nine, Ma Nwe dropped out of school to help look after her two younger sisters so her parents could go to work. When their father died she was forced to go to work to make up for the family’s loss of income.

She worked 70-hour weeks, earning an equivalent of about US$60, at the manufacturing factory, and only had one day off a month. All her earnings went to her mother to keep the family afloat.

“If I continued working there, I think nothing would have changed in my life because my earnings were just spent on food,” Ma Nwe says.

Ma Nwe (left), with her younger sister Khet Khet, is learning to become a dressmaker with the help of ChildFund supporters.

Ma Nwe gets the education she deserves

 

A turning point in her life came in mid-2018 when, with the help of ChildFund supporters, she was able to leave her job at the factory and pursue her dream of becoming a dressmaker.

Today, Ma Nwe is completing a fourth-month vocational sewing course, learning to make a range of men’s and women’s clothing. While she studies ChildFund is compensating her family with the same amount of income Ma Nwe would have earned if she were still working at the factory.

Ma Nwe was also given a sewing machine so she could practise and develop her new skills at home. The shiny Singer sits proudly in the family’s makeshift hut, which lies in the slums of central Myanmar.

“I am thankful to the supporters for providing me with the sewing training and the sewing machine,” Ma Nwe says. “I am so happy. I feel that my dream has come true.”

Ma Nwe’s younger sister, 10-year-old Khet Khet, who with the support of ChildFund has been able to receive a quality education, is overjoyed for her sister. “I am very happy that ChildFund supporters provided the sewing machine for my sister,” she says. “She can also now make dresses for me!”

 

Donate now to help child labourers access education

 

There are millions of children worldwide who share Ma Nwe’s experiences. You can help them.

Donate to our Back To School appeal now and you will help children around the world access the education they deserve. We need to support children’s right to learn to break the cycle of poverty, because every child needs a childhood.

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