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A Family on the Edge

Oo Ma Khaing and Mg Mg

in Dalla, Myanmar (Burma)

 

 

In Yangon (Rangoon) one day I was walking along the waterfront, looking for a boat ticket office

 

Mg Mg (pronounced Moun Moun) saw me and offered to help

 

 

then invited me to his home, across the river from Yangon, in the township of Dalla

 

 

 

where he lives with his wife Oo Ma Khaing,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

one young son, Aung Love

 and one young daughter (sorry, no photo)

 

 

 

They are dirt poor 

the house is a bamboo shack

 

built on land that's the community dump

 

 

They occasionally try to beat back the rubble

 

 

 

 

 

but with little ongoing success

 

 

The house is about 10' x 10' (3m x 3m)

no furniture

very few possessions

 

 

 

 

mainly some kitchen utensils

 

 

but the cooking is done outside, along the path that fronts the house

 

That's the laundry area, too

Simply throw down an old linoleum remnant and begin scrubbing

 

 

Shortly after I arrived, Mg Mg took me for a walk through his neighborhood

 

 

a mix of huts like his

 

 

 

 

and more substantial structures

 

 

and here, as in many of the poor neighborhoods I've walked through, my presence attracted a gaggle of kids

 

 

and it was here I first tried using a row of kids as a mock marimba

 

I'm always looking for ways to connect with kids

 

 

 

 

Remember the Children's Marching Song from the 1958 movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness?

 

This old man he played one
He played nick nack on my drum
With a nick nack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

This old man he played two
He played nick nack on my shoe
With a nick nack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

etc.

 

Catch my rendition

the kids just can't stop giggling

 

12-second video

http://youtu.be/u9lrvn4lad0

 

 

On the walk we passed the neighborhood water well

 

 

It's not used for drinking, but for everything else

 

I visited the family four different days

The second day I came in the afternoon

They told me they hadn't eaten yet; no money for food

I gave them money for rice

 

 

Mg Mg's income is from a bicycle taxi (trishaw) that he rents

He also told me that day that the trishaw owner wouldn't advance him a unit because he had no rental money

 

I gave him money for a deposit with a new trishaw owner, and came back the next day to see his equipment

 

 

 

This family is not the only poor one in the community

There always seemed to be women visiting the house, and a number of them asked me for money for food, which I gave

 

 

But there always seemed to be a happy spirit among the neighbors that gathered

 

 

and as always, the kids are vibrant and animated

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