This dirt has a lot of medicinal properties. It is full of minerals and very good for high blood pressure, as a digestive and cooling your body down when you have heat exhaustion. I collect the clay from the mountain behind my village and then bake it down into these chunks. I eat it every day and I’m very healthy for a 67-year old, even though I smoke cheeroots.
I am a Taung Yo Pao. I always wear my traditional headdress, but others like to wear more colourful ones. The tradition is not so popular with younger people anymore, I think they find it too hot. But I like it as it can also protect from the sun and keep me warm when it’s colder.
Aside from selling medicinal clay, I also sell turmeric powder, peanuts and corn. It makes me just enough income to get by and then I can also buy presents and snacks for my grandchildren. I always make sure I buy some treats for them when I have been at the market; they love it. It takes me one and half hours to walk here to the Indein market from where I live but sometimes I catch a lift on the back of a truck or on a motorbike on days where I don’t feel up to it.
I have never been to school. There was never a school nearby for me to attend when I was growing up. As children, we would work the fields with our parents and learn from them by watching and listening.
But my children have been to school. My husband was a manual labourer so he managed to make a little bit of money and we were able to send them to monastic schools. My children are very good to me. They look after me when I am unwell and I can rely on them if times are too difficult.
Life can be challenging but I have worked hard and I appreciate that this is my path. As a strict Buddhist, I believe if I am good and do good needs, my next life will be better. I believe that.
Daw Hla, Taung Yoo Pao
Kyar Tun Village