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Bago Flood and Women's Lives

The water is overflowing from the highway that has a big barrier at the top of the neighborhood like a straight line. And that water is flowing into the neighborhood where Daw Mya May lives. Daw Mya May can see this from the top of her house.

Due to the water flowing over the embankment of the road, the house belonging to Daw Mya May's family is almost touching the water surface. The water level is gradually getting higher, and it is raining continuously. So Daw Mya May and her husband had to prepare to move to safety before nightfall. After that, she put important documents and some clothes in her bag and waited for the boat to pick her up. As soon as the boat docked in front of the house, Daw Mya May and her husband carefully boarded the boat and went out to the road wall over the water. On the top embankment of their neighborhood, there was only knee-deep water. But in the neighborhood below the embankment, there are people-deep water. When she got off the boat and looked up to the house from the embankment, Daw Mya May pressed her chest. She confided, “When I looked up from the embankment, I saw the whole neighborhood flooded, and I was horrified. I wonder if the house were gone while I'm sleeping, and I'm afraid of myself." Due to heavy rains in Bago City, where Daw Mya May lives, flooding began on October 8. This is the fourth time in 2023 that Bago has been flooded. According to the relief workers, the last three floods were not as bad as this one. For the fourth time this time, 80 percent of the entire city of Bago has been affected by the floods. According to information received from local community organizations and relief workers, 22 flood relief camps have been opened throughout Bago City, and about 6,000 people are living in these camps. These numbers are only collected from people who have arrived at relief camps, so the situation on the ground could be higher. Daw Mya May, who lives near the old Pyinsi Market in Bago City, is over 50 years old. She said that although she has faced floods many times, she has never experienced such a terrible flood in her life as in Bago. So this time, when Bago City was flooded, Daw Mya May and her husband left their house and had to seek refuge in a safe place.

Daw San Myint, a mother of three children, who left her home and went to live in a relief camp like Daw Mya May. She is over 50 years old and retired from her teaching job on medical pension. Although she is a mother of three children, her 20-year-old son is currently far away. Both her son and her husband are away from the family as they travel with the spring season. So, when faced with a flood disaster, she was with her middle daughter and the youngest son. On October 8, when the flood began in Bago City, the water entered Daw San Myint's one-story house, leaving only the bed. Since there is no husband and her elder son, they can't live alone anymore. So the next morning, she temporarily moved to a two-story house on the same street as them. But the water rises again. On that day, the water level of the Bago River rose again from the critical water level of 880 cm to more than 1,000 cm. At that time, Daw San Myint's one-story house was almost full of water. So it is no longer possible for them to stay in the two-story house that their family is temporarily moving to. Because if it continues to rain and the water rises, they will be closed in that house. Daw San Myint didn't dare to stay because not only the whole street but also the whole neighborhood was flooded. So they moved with other families to a relief camp opened in a monastery near the western tip of their neighborhood. She said, "When I moved to the monastery, the water was up to my neck on the way. I had to lift my head and walk slowly. I have never experienced it."

There are nearly 800 flood victims in the relief camp that Daw San Myint went to. On the first day of arrival, they can order their own food with what they have. That camp was on the edge of a neighborhood. And we can only go by boat to get to them from Main Street in town. Every road that can enter the neighborhood is full of water, so they can hardly reach them. On the first day, no relief came to their camp. On October 10, the third day of the flood, some groups started coming to them to distribute food. It must be said that Daw San Myint and her son and daughter, and other families have not yet escaped the disaster, but they are still breathing heavily because they have enough food to survive.

In fact, the person who can't breathe is Ma Nweyi. She opened a shop in front of a small room that was only 10 feet long and paid fifty thousand a month. Unfortunately, at the end of September, she was planning to take an adjacent room and expand the shop, but she was faced with a flood. Ma Nweyi is a 35-year-old mother of two daughters. Her family of four, including her, her husband and two daughters, live in that shop. At her shop, she sells tea, coffee, salad, rice salad, and fried rice.

On the first day of the water flood, their shop wasn’t flooding. Not far from the shop, the water has reached the corner of the street. With that, she thought that the water would not rise again as usual, so she didn't save the tissue rolls and charcoal bags that she bought for the shop. At the end of the day, she had to stand up and sell goods, so she fell asleep in the cold rain. It was around 1 o'clock in the morning and she felt the cold touch and she knew that the water was under her back. She didn't know what to do when we wanted to sleep in a dark room when there was no electricity, and it was raining. She knew that she was tired and just wanted to sleep. Ma Nweyi said how she faced the water flood, "Now let the water come in and let it go like this. I can't do it anymore. The water has already entered. All wet and dripping. There is no place to sleep. Then it dawned like this."

Now, their family's sole source of income, the salad shop, has been closed for two days. She can't stay in that small shop as usual, so she’s moving to a relief camp from a nearby monastery. She still couldn't figure out how to handle the monthly fee for two rooms, the capital that will be returned to their shop, and the family's livelihood for the end of the month.

Like Ma Nweyi, there is another family that is worried about the end of the month. That is the Ko Htay family. They are in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Bago. Ko Htay's family is not spared from the current Bago flood. As it is on the outskirts of the city and sparsely populated, there is no relief station in their neighborhood and no one to help has yet arrived. During the three days of the flood, they had to stay inside their house. In fact, his wife was able to walk again with the walking stick after half of her body was paralyzed. Now, because water has entered the house, they are living in a brick house in a one-story house.

What's worse is that his wife is pregnant. Ko Htay recounted how, from poor health to blood disorders, she unexpectedly had an easy pregnancy. At the end of this October, his wife will give birth. Ko Htay's family earns a living by selling food and drink like the Ma Nweyi family. He, his only daughter who is 16 years old and his mother-in-law sells rice curry at the factory market with the labor of three. Because the roads became impassable, the factories and the workshops in Bago City closed. In the meantime, Ko Htay is worrying about the water level has dropped insignificantly, and on the other hand, there is no income. And after putting his wife in the attic in the rain, there was only a "god" to help.

Even if there is no rain continuously, if the water doesn't rise again, it will take time for Bago residents, including Ko Htay's family, to return to normal. As I am still writing the article, the water level in Bago is already falling.

So in the mission of the flood recovery Daw Mya May, who is struggling to find food for herself until she is over 50 years old, has no child support during the flood recovery, Daw San Myint, who is single-handedly taking care of her two children because she has not been allowed to return home with her husband and son to rely on, MaNweyi, a shopkeeper who rents two rooms from one shop as if she had gone to war in the year to come, Ko Htay's wife, who will give birth at the end of the month, and the housewives of the same life, have no idea what they will look like.


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