Myanmar: Ma Su Hlaing raises awareness of mines, so others don’t lose loved ones like she did

Two years ago, Kyaw Thet and his brother went into the mountains of Hsipaw Township in Myanmar's Shan State, looking for herbs for Kyaw Thet's wife, who was in labour. They never returned.

This was just one of hundreds of landmine accidents that take place in Myanmar each year.

Kyaw Thet's widow, Ma Su Hlaing was devastated and left to raise their two children alone. "He was the breadwinner of our family and now that he is gone, I work as a daily wager to ensure that I provide for my children's food and education," she said.

In 2019, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gave cash grants to 49 families across Shan State, including Ma Su Hlaing's. The money made life a little easier, enabling her to provide for her children by herself.

Losing her husband, though devastating, propelled Ma Su Hlaing to raise awareness of the dangers and risks associated with mines and other unexploded ordnance. She's become one of the driving forces in her community, spreading awareness about mine-related risks and reminding people to heed warning signs, especially in the mountains.

Thang Khan Sian Khai/ICRC

Helped by women like Ma Su Hlaing, the ICRC and the Myanmar Red Cross Society are working with communities in Kachin, Shan, Kayin, Mon, Eastern Bago, Tanintharyi and Kayah regions to raise awareness of landmine-related risks and ways to keep safe.

Read more: She inspires: Stories from the Asia-Pacific on International Women's Day 2020