I’m 57 years old and I have ten children. The eldest is 21. He lives in Taungyi now and also works as a farmer and carpenter. I have another child who is living in Nyaung Shwe and she is finishing 10th grade. My youngest is two years old. The children often help me to replant the paddy but they’re all off playing or helping their mother cook now. I met my wife, Daw Nu Nu Wai, here in Si Sone village. We have never left or tried to relocate anywhere – it’s pretty hard to do that when you have ten children!
Normally, I work at a guesthouse as a carpenter and labourer, but today I’ve taken the day off to replant my seedlings into another plot. We eat what we harvest and if there is any surplus, we’ll also try and sell it. It’s very difficult these days to be a paddy farmer. The water has dried right up. When I started doing this as a child, I remember having to build ditches that helped siphon the water out of the paddy fields – now we’re struggling to haul the water up from the lake because of the receding water line. I have five-acres that I tend to and I plant white rice, the variety called ‘Pearl’.
My wife is a masseuse so she often works in the afternoons. It’s quite the orchestra in my household.
We get up at 6am; my wife helps the kids get ready for school while I go to work. Then I get back in the afternoon and she goes to work while I help the kids with their schoolwork and dinner, so we are on a bit of a roster system. Breakfast is pretty much the only time we all really get to sit down and eat together as a family.
The major change that I am noticing in the lake is the amount of plastic and rubbish that are building up. The price of water is also going up, not just drinking water that we have to buy but also, if I want to irrigate the rice crops and pump water, it costs at least 100,000 kyat an hour to hire the machinery and then you have to pay for the diesel on top of that. It’s getting tough but the children are growing up and I’m grateful to get some help from them.”
U Sein Maung Myint, 57
Si Sone village
Paddy farmer and Carpenter