By Kundi Lay, International Projects Supervisor CUFA
Nu is a 32 year old mother of a seven year old son from the rural Khu Nimm Jang township, in Lashio, Myanmar. Nu and her husband were both primary school teachers and left their teaching careers to become farmers. Although the decision to leave behind their students was hard, they could not afford the basic necessities in everyday life with the small income they both earned as teachers. Their farming has helped their family to improve their living standards.
Five years later, during a visit to her local pagoda, Nu started talking to a Monk and a CUFA staff member about how she used to be a teacher and misses being able to help her community. They explained to her how savings banks work, and encouraged her to form a savings group in her local community. Inspired, Nu formed a small savings group consisting of 10 other farmers.
Nu is very passionate about this savings group and was active in engaging with all aspects of the group’s activities, her dedication was recognised by her being voted by her peers as the savings group leader. Over the next year she led and built the savings group, Khe Hnin Set and help grow its membership from 10 to over 150 members.
Although Nu and her husband are now fortunate to be financially sustainable, they have not forgotten about their lives as teachers and the financial struggles their teacher friends still face.
When Nu heard about CUFA’s Teachers Project she was very impressed by how it works, in particular, how income received from low interest loans are used to contribute to teachers’ wages.
Savings banks are eligible for the project if they can demonstrate that they can’t meet the demand for loans, they can prove their ability to meet monthly financial reporting requirements and have thorough financial and operational systems in place to ensure delinquency remains under 5%.
Initially Nu lacked the financial and reporting knowledge to ensure that her savings banks met this criteria, however she diligently attended CUFA’s training and very quickly was able to learn how to record membership savings and bookkeeping skills.
Nu then used her skills and knowledge to on-train the other members in her savings group so they could meet the criteria for the Teachers Project and six months later, Nu and her savings bank were able to access Teacher Project Loans.
Nu is very happy that she is contributing in some way to support her former colleagues and friends who are living off the little money they receive as teachers. She believes that teachers are important to the growth of their country in providing valuable education and care to children and she hopes that teachers will be able to stay in their jobs and provide quality education knowing that they will be able to receive better pay and receive their payments on time.
She told CUFA with joy in her face that she still loves teaching; it is amazing to see a little human being grown up to become a great resource for the society. She is planning to meet some teachers and children to provide information about how the savings banks can help their community and how to open a savings account.
She added that being a female leader it can be hard, but she’s gained respect from male committee members and staff due to her passion, motivation and her work ethic. Her goal is to continue working with the savings bank to support the teachers and the children in her village.
The Teachers Project is supported by the Teachers Mutual Bank, Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank and QT Mutual Bank.