Today I want to tell you more about my internship programme and the reason behind why I decided to join the internship programme with PMU. Let me start by introducing a little bit about myself. I was born in Myanmar(Burma) and spent most of my childhood there(until I a was 12 years old) with my family. Since I live in Sweden today, Myanmar is mostly known as Burma which is why I will use Burma when referring to my home country here in my blog. I grew up in a small village with approximately 250 household in Chin state. In my village we had no electricity, no phone or TV at home. We lived a simple life by growing our own food and animals such as pigs and chickens. We had our own fruits at our garden that we could pick at any time. I had many good memories from my home country and I long for the day that I can go back to visit my relatives. Like I told my friends I would cry only by seeing my home country from the plane of joy.
Even though I had many good memories from my childhood, there are also many things from my culture that bothers me today. In Burma we had to pay school fee in order to attend school and I remember I always enjoyed going to school. During summer breaks I would to long for the school to start again. Because of the high school fee I knew many children couldn’t afford to go to school. Fortunately, that was never the case for me. In my village it was a norm in the society that female members should take care of household duties. It was shameful for women not to give birth to a son as a son is an heir to the family and the one who “carry on the family”. A women was seen as a property, meaning that she would no longer legally belong to the family once she got married, also many men treat their wives as their property. They think they should decide and control her life. She should be obedience to her husband and treat him nicely. She should not leave her husband unless he told him to leave because if she does her family must pay back her dowry, which in our tradition is given by the man's family to his wife’s family. Normally her family would not afford to pay the dowry back if she leave her husband.
Since I am a daughter I was always told not to trust men if they flirt with you because they could say anything without actually mean it. Once a girl believe in his sweet lies she could be pregnant without marriage, which was a nightmare for every parent/mother in Burma. I have seen girls who got pregnant during their school time and they had to quit school as they became a mother because they now have to take care of their children. If her man doesn’t marry her then it is seen as “shameful” and I have never seen any young mother who continued their study to finish their education. My mother use to tell me that no matter how good you do at school if you get pregnant before you finish your study than your life will basically be over as a women. Any of this would happen to a man, nobody would blame him as much as they blame a woman and he could still carry on with his life without risking all the chances in his life. The men in our society had so much more rights and power. There are so many unwritten rules on how a girl/woman should behave, how she should speak and what she cannot do. Even small little thing such as during a folk gathering only men would sit at a higher chair while even an old lady must sit at the floor. A women should not drink alcohol or smoke because if she do she wouldn't be seen as a proper fine woman. The list could go on and on. What I am pointing out here is about the norm we had in my home country, it doesn’t mean that this was the case for every single person.
Growing up with this type of society it was a complete shock for me when my family and I moved to Sweden when I was 14 years old. The first connection that I had with the Swedish society was at school where both male and female students would smoke openly, where both male and female drinks alcohol without any big deal. The longer I stayed in Sweden the more I understood about the Swedish society and about how gender equality differ from my home country. In Sweden, both men and women help each other with taking care of their children and with household duties, most importantly women are not treated as a property or with a lower value nor lower rights. Young mothers can still continue to go to school and doesn't have to give up their dreams in the same way. The more I saw of the Swedish society the more I realized how unjustified women were treated in my home country. When I lived there I thought it was normal the way things were.
At high school I started to think I must give back someday. There are so many people in the world who doesn’t afford to go to school and who can’t learn about their rights. As I would finish my study at university this summer of 2017 I thought I must go as a volunteer to make a change in a ny way that I can. I knew that PMU Sweden (https://pmu.se/en/) was sending young people between 20 to 30 years old to different countries to the many projects that they are working with. So I decided to apply for their internship programme which is for at least 4 months. Luckily I was accepted to attend the programme. In about less than one month I am going to Nepal to help the local organization with teaching about human rights. It has been a long process but I know it will be worth it.
This trip means so much to me in so many ways, it is not just about my willingness to help other to improve their lives situation. It is also about expressing my gratitude of my past, to remember the simple life that we lived and not to get blind in my new life as a Swedish citizen.I am so grateful to all the experiences and perspective that I have gained from my childhood. They made a strong impression in my life every day and taught me what is important in life. I am now looking forward to learn everything from Nepal and hopefully I will be able to make a difference in the lives of Nepali people.
This post has become very long now. I hope you enjoyed reading my story and please keep in mind that what I have written here is based on my own perspective and experiences. Thank you!