First of all, she had to quit school after her father passed away to help her mother raise her younger siblings. That required strength and maturity. Then she opened own business – a small grocery store in their home – when she was only 19!
“I had to borrow 180 Kyat (roughly S$220) from a local NGO to use as capital,” Kai En explained. But the interest rates proved too much for her. So in 2011, she came to Singapore to work as a domestic helper to help fund her business.
That in itself required courage. What made that decision even more brave is the fact that she spoke practically no English when she arrived in Singapore.
“I learned some in primary school, but not enough to work,” Kai En now shares in halting, but clear English.
So, over the course of her employment as a domestic helper, Kai En does her best to improve by watching TV and listening to the radio while she works.
It was one of these friends who invited her to attend an event for FDWs where she saw the Aidha booth. Excited by the courses offered, she decided to sign up and made history in Aidha by being one of the first students from Myanmar to enrol in our training programme. She has also referred numerous Burmese friends to enrol with Aidha and has been instrumental in growing our student population from Myanmar!
That’s because she has benefitted so much from studying and believes others like her can as well. At Aidha, Kai En says she’s improving her English skills even more. During their monthly Leadership Club, she and her classmates discuss leadership and management concepts, and practice communication and public speaking skills. She’s pushing herself to speak up more to overcome her shyness.
But English isn’t the only thing Kai En is improving at Aidha.
She’s also grateful for the chance to learn more computer skills, which she can practice at home on a laptop that she purchased herself. She’s become adept at emailing and eagerly helps out classmates who are slower on the keyboard. “There’s always something new to learn,” she said, when asked what else she gets out of her classes.
Kai En plans to return home by 2018 to start an import-export business back in her hometown in the Chin State, so she’s thinking about signing up for Module 2 classes. She admits to being intimidated when she thinks about how she can strike the balance with her course work and her job..
“I don’t want to give up,” she says with determination. “We can learn from everything. Even if we’re down, we can try to be strong. If we have big dreams, we must believe and make it possible.”
As Kai En has proven, neither language limitations nor life circumstances will keep her from achieving her goals. It’s clear she has the tenacity to keep going – one extraordinary step at a time.
By Ting Claravall