Chit Mhwe and I have been going to the market together for the past couple weeks. She is fifteen and lives with her father and nephew. She is the primary caretaker of the home and stopped attending school at some point last year to work and to take care of her nephew & dad.
She & her dad also help us to care for Aung Moo, who was hospitalized last year with meningoencephalitis and came home with cortical blindness. He continues to improve and still lives alone, but Chit Mhwe helps to cook for him and brings it to him a few times each day. To help their family to do this, we provide about $9 to $10 worth of food for them each week. While Aung Moo probably only eats about $5-$6 worth of food, this is a great way to help their family get better nutrition, and honestly–we hope to keep Chit Mhwe working more wholesome jobs in any way we can.
Since we have more time for the community these days, I have been taking Chit Mhwe to the market and giving her the money to make the choices of what to buy. I purchase my fruit and vegetables at the same time, and we make a little trip of it. She shows up each week dressed up with fresh make-up, and it’s lovely.
Today, as we were leaving, I asked her where she is now working. She said she isn’t working. I asked again about Hsa Thoo Lei, the school she used to attend, and she confirmed she isn’t going there. But she said she was going to a different school, just around the corner from our house. She made a little map in the air and pointed to “Kelli’s school” and “Chit Mhwe’s school”. So I asked her how many days a week she goes to school; she said five.
So then I asked her why she wasn’t at school today.
…Because we were going to the market, of course.
So when I asked if she was free, the answer was relative. And in our attempts to help, I actually kept her out of school for three days. 🙁
Classic miscommunication blunder: I’m trying to help, and I’m actually hurting–despite my best efforts!
So then I laughed, the classic response when you have nothing else to offer!
Needless to say, we decided to find another time. We are now planning to go each Sunday morning with some friends, and we’ll all have coffee & tea together and enjoy the lovely market in the morning, on the weekend, when there is no school to be missed!