Daw Toe Ma’s story


“I had fallen but the project and the committee picked me up.” Daw Toe Ma, 78 years old, Myanmar.

Daw Toe Ma’s husband left her 30 years ago and without her main source of income, she had to double her workload. She worked long hours in order to earn enough to provide for herself and family.
Over the years, repetitive physical strain from her job has meant that she can no longer move easily. Her eyesight is also very limited, having suffered from a disease that has effected both her eyes. Now, she also suffers from depression, as she feels isolated by her disability.
Daw Toe Ma now receives a disability allowance of 15,000 Myanmar kyats (US$9.75) a month, thanks to a pilot social protection project launched by HelpAge International in Myanmar. She was chosen by a village social protection committee to receive financial support, after they were trained by HelpAge on selecting and administering funding to vulnerable people within their community.
Through saving as much of this money as she could, Daw Toe Ma bought four sheep. Raising sheep has provided her with a new source of income and although, due to her disability she cannot tend to the sheep herself, her neighbours look after the animals on her behalf.
Daw Toe Ma used to think she would be lonely, hungry and in pain for the remainder of her life. Now, through the support of the project, and due to the kindness, compassion and determination of the members of the village’s social protection committee, she leads a better life and has transformed her outlook on her future.
The pilot allowance will not continue after the project ends, but she says, “I do not worry about that. The committee will continue to provide some money as a disability allowance, and I already have six sheep, which my neighbour looks after. I had fallen but the project and the committee picked me up. I will never fall again.”