Challenge, contribution and rewards – By Guest Blogger Tin Hta Nu

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Tin (second from right) with members of the Kendall CWA Branch at the community herb garden that they maintain.

As we celebrate CWA Awareness Week this week I have taken some time to reflect on my own experience as a member of the Country Women’s Association in my hometown of Kendall, the Poets Village, Mid North Coast, NSW.

For me, being a member of the CWA is about three words – challenge, contribution and reward.

It is about challenging ….

Coming from a non-English speaking background, I found it really challenging to adapt to a new culture. I enjoy taking this challenge head on and the CWA has helped me to orientate myself to the Australian way of life.

Through the CWA I have been able to learn about my country of choice, Australia, in a supportive and inclusive environment. I have also been able to let my fellow CWA members understand about my home country, Burma. On our meeting days I usually bring Asian finger food which my CWA friends enjoy.  When I bring the food I always tell the stories involved in the food I bring.  In reciprocity, they have helped me with baking ideas.

It is a challenge for me to explain to my CWA friends to see how lucky we are here in Australia.  Although I held a respected position as a senior lecturer in Rangoon University, I still lacked freedom of expression, and the situation is even worse for women in the country.  At the time I left Burma in 1990 there were no organised women’s associations or civil societies.  We had to tolerate a lot of suppression by the military, and try to survive with many shortages such as electricity black outs that are so common even in the capital city, let alone rural areas.

CWA has a place for everyone, and many activities that you do not think you are capable of doing is encouraged by your fellow members such as crafts and singing. I find it a very challenging activity to learn the national Anthems of our countries of study every year.  It is rather challenging to learn another language at my age. This year also I lead and sang together with our branch members the national anthem of Morocco at our Kendall branch International day.  We also sang, Timor, Egyptian and Danish and Maltese national anthems in previous years.

It is about contributing…

Through my CWA membership I have been able to play a part in the bigger picture by contributing materially and financially to disaster stricken areas in Australia and also to less advantaged people and women overseas. Personally, I have been actively involved in the work CWA has done to the victims of the cyclone Nargis in Burma.

I have had the opportunity to let my fellow CWA members know about the poor education system in Burma, and how the country people live.  The CWA members and people in Camden Haven are proud to know that 5 children from the village school we build are qualified to attend Medical Sciences in Mandalay University. They have to study by kerosene light or with candles. One of them, a recipient of CWA contributions by our members, just completed her degree in optometry.  She is now working in a hospital in her region.

As education is important for the villagers in Burma my CWA friends are still supporting my projects.  I have started a new project to fund 70 orphaned girls in a nunnery in Rangoon. My CWA friends’ support my farm produce sales and their contributions have allowed us to buy school exercise books and pencils for these orphans.

It is rewarding…

The CWA has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of like-minded friends and has widened the horizon of my social environment. I’ve enlisted the support of many members to help in my projects such as the CWA herb patch in our community garden.

Personally, it’s also very rewarding. Like many things you get what you put into it.

My most rewarding moment was putting up the “The Kendall CWA Room” sign in the Burmese High School to honour the CWA ladies supported me tirelessly in various fund raising events for the building of the school.  They have helped me preparing food for the International nights, culinary adventure nights and more than that, they purchased tickets for the nights.

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The Kendall CWA Room

As CWA members we are seen by the community as being balanced, but not afraid to speak our mind.  With nearly a century of history behind us, CWA has become the voice of concerned rural women.

I am proud to be a part of the CWA and CWA has a place for everyone!

“I am a refugee and am so appreciative of this wonderful country. Life is for giving.”

Tin grew up in Burma (in Rangoon) where she was a senior lecturer in economics, Rangoon University. Her cousin by marriage is opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi. With a passion for human rights, Tin was active in the nationwide uprising for democratic reforms which resulted in her needing to leave Burma for Thailand.  Tin came to Australia as a lecturer at UNE Armidale in 1991. After that time, she and her husband worked for AusAID. Based at the poet’s village of Kendall, between Taree and Port Macquarie, Tin explains that coming to Australia “saved her life”. She joined the CWA ten years ago and, at the age of 63, is actively involved in her local community. Tin’s other passion is looking after the land and has established a community café and a community garden with her friends, to educate people about Asian herbs and vegetables.  She also raised funds to build a high school in Burma which now boasts its own ‘CWA Room’ and now continues to support the school by selling produce. Tin also supports a girl’s orphanage in Burma which cares for 70 children. “I am a refugee and am so appreciative of this wonderful country. Life is for giving.”

Fun fact – The ladies of the CWA are teaching Tin the Australian National Anthem and she is teaching them how to make spring rolls. Tin Hta Nu can be interpreted as ‘high in gentleness and devotion’

18 thoughts on “Challenge, contribution and rewards – By Guest Blogger Tin Hta Nu

    • Thanks Tanya
      I am now more determined and enthusiastic to work for promoting CWA. I have encouraged my sister Dr Yin Myint May who aims to migrate here to join CWA. She is an honorary member of our branch, and already is convinced. Last year she was the medical officer in Timor Leste and while she was here visiting me our branch ask her to give a talk at our meeting. she would like to replicate organisations like CWA in Asia and pacific regions she is working for now.
      Sorry i was unable to come to Sydney for the awareness week.
      Tin

    • Hello Anita
      thanks for your comment.
      I will be visiting Burma in December and hope to see the girls’ orphanage my CWA friends and I have been supporting.
      Please stop at our farm when you happen to be around our region
      Tin

    • Dear Ann
      thanks for your nice comment.
      Australia saved my life, and that is what I would like to appreciate back.
      I will be going to Burma in December and will be seeing the orphaned girls saved by the nunnery in Rangoon. This nunnery is supported by my farm sales and my CWA Friends’ support. This nunnery also give me shelter while I was on the run chased by the military to academics during our revolution for democratic freedom in 1988.
      Life is always colorful is you are active and contributing.
      Tin

  1. Hola! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now
    and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Tx!
    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

    • Thank you Vickey
      I will be going back to Burma for a visit as I am allowed since a few years back.
      I am looking forward to go and see the girl’s orphanage which my CWA friends and I are supporting. with my farm produce and my CWA friends’ contributions I sell at our local farmers’ market once a week. We got $200 which we are able to buy school books, raincoats and school bags for girl orphans.
      We can save their lives to become nurses, school teachers or whatever they want to instead of slaves (of any kind).
      Tin

  2. Dear Gaye
    thanks for your kind comment. Life is colorful when you are contributing!!
    And CWA helps me to become more colorful.
    I will be going to Rangoon in December (we are barred to go back before).
    Am looking forward to see girl’s orphanage which is my new project.
    Hopefully the girls have good education to become self sustaining.
    Please keep in touch
    Tin

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