Supporting older people through community self help groups
Daw Ae Phan, 70, lives in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. She is a part of our Inclusive Social Protection and Livelihoods project which aims to provide social protection services to vulnerable households in rural Myanmar, with a focus on the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in their community.
Daw married her husband when she was 17 and he passed away just a few months ago. Together they had six children, two two boys and four girls. She currently lives with two of her daughters who are both single. She also has four grandchildren. Daw doesn’t work and depends on her daughters for help. They grow flowers and beans for a living, both to eat and sell.
Daw used to grow fruit and ginger when she was working but stopped two years ago as she had an accident on the farm and can’t balance well. She also suffers from numbness in her lower limbs, hypertension and neck pain. She worries that she might fall and injure herself, even in her own home.
A member of the local older people's self-help group, Daw received two loans which she spent on feed for farming. Daw has since paid this loan back. She also gets medicine from the group, and regular health check-ups. A nurse from a neighbouring village visits Daw once or twice a month and gives her treatment, medicine and measures her blood pressure. Daw pays when she is able and the group contributes when necessary. This visit is essential for Daw who has never visited a doctor and relies on the nurse.
Daw attends the group member meetings once a month but is unable to get to the other social activities in the village because she cannot walk well. The meeting isn't far and she walks carefully and slowly. Sometimes she asks for help and people take her to the monastery by foot or in a car.
With money coming and going depending on the time if the year. Daw doesn’t have financial security. When times are hard she visits neighbours for emotional support and they do the same to her; they depend on each other.
Daw told us that she sees people carrying out activities slowly in the village and wishes she was well enough to get involved and do them faster. Instead, she typically wakes at 6am, offers food to Buddha, eats breakfast and then sits by the fire to stay warm. She then has lunch, sometimes with her daughter and very occasionally visits family. After dinner she prays to Buddha and goes to bed at 9pm.
While breakfast and lunch is prepared by Daw’s daughters, Daw prepares dinner for the whole family as her children come back late from the farm. Daw is satisfied when she has food but when she is feeling unwell she doesn’t want to eat.
Daw told us that she does not feel safe in her home as it moves in the wind. She hopes to have repairs made.
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