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



Catch my rendition

the kids just can't stop giggling



12-second video



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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