VisionFund is focused on reaching rural families, knowing that 70 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas.
In our next instalment from Myanmar, Amanda Kamin spends time with U Win Shein, a farmer who has used microfinance to improve the lives of not only his children, but his grandchildren too.
U Win Shein, a farmer in rural Mandalay, Myanmar, carries the weight of six children and seven grandchildren on his shoulders. At 58 years old, he has lived in the same village his whole life earning less than a dollar a day as hired help on local land. Set at the foot of mountains, this plain is home to rice paddies, cows, crops and now U Win Shein’s flowerbeds.
Four years ago, Shein received his first loan from VisionFund. He bought plants and fertiliser, and set about expanding his flower operation.
At the time, his youngest child was 13 years old, the eldest 34.
Fast-forward four years, and the restless worker we meet at the flowerbed carries pride on his shoulders. We are given a demonstration of his irrigation system, purchased with a VisionFund loan, a simple tool that has meant his 58 year old, weathered frame, no longer needs to carry buckets of water from the well to his crops.
As we move across his land, and meet his family, Shein is constantly working. Picking a weed here, gathering rubbish there. He tells us about his youngest daughter’s impending graduation, where she will be awarded a chemistry degree.
All his other children were taught how to farm, if only he had the income sooner. Income that has risen from 70 cents a day, to a $USD3000 profit every six months at harvest.
A proud grandfather, we met his 5-year-old granddaughter, who is preparing to go to school this year. Her mother, Tidar Theint, is also a VisionFund client, and has been for two years. Like her father-in-law, she farms flowers, but doesn’t own land. She uses her loan to rent land and buy plants. A previous loan had also been put towards a new house, but the house was destroyed by weather, so now she lives in a small hut with her husband and five children.
Tidar Theint is 38 but has never attended school. Employment options in her rural area are extremely limited. VisionFund helps families like this one towards breaking the poverty cycle.
Shein’s flower business is continuing to grow, and he beams when he thinks about watching his daughter graduate from university. For his daughter in law, the journey is just beginning. Loans from VisionFund will help her to educate her five children, provide them with a home, and continue to grow her business.