U Aung Soe works into the night to make ends meet after his wife falls ill
U Aung Soe (47) learned the craft of building and painting parasols from his wife's family in Pathein, a place famous for craftsmanship. After moving to Nyaung U a few years ago, his business had been slowly growing with the influx of tourism to the town, and he had been settling into life there with his wife and their two children.
Everything abruptly changed for them in mid-2014, when his wife Daw Kyi Kyi Win (47) suffered a stroke, leaving her partially paralyzed on the left side of her body. This has placed a great strain on the family, both financially and emotionally. In the first six months alone, $2000 was spent on health care, including hospital visits, traditional Myanmar medicine, and massage. This is a huge sum of money for the family, who must now depend on U Aung Soe’s work only. In addition to their usual monthly expenditure: $300 for food, water & electricity, $15 for mobile phone service, $100 for private school, and $40 for their rent, his income must also cover $300 of health care costs.
It's also been hard on the children, and their grades have suffered due to the stress at home as their mother hasn’t been able to do what she once did for them. However, U Aung Soe is insistent that they stay in school and get a proper education.
So, every day at sunrise, and then after dinner, U Aung Soe alone helps his wife outside and helps brace her as they walk the length of the street. It's been a tough road to recovery, but things are slowly improving as they work their way back towards the life they had before.