Democratic reforms spurred by new political leadership in 2011 created new avenues for international migration. Suddenly, migrants were leaving for countries like Thailand, Malaysia, China and Singapore not because of instability but for opportunities.
Win Zaw was among the many people that left Myanmar for Malaysia during this period. We met him in ‘Kota Raya,’ a favored migrant destination in the heart of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. He cheerfully shared that his nickname here is “Muang Muang” and that he came to Malaysia because he had heard about a job opportunity in Kuala Lumpur.
Win is no stranger to his new home and its lifestyle, but he thinks predominantly about his family back home. “The last time I saw my family was in 2019,” he revealed. Win also explained that going back to Myanmar, “is a bit of a problem financially because the political situation in Myanmar causes [a] lack of jobs”. This means fewer members in Win’s family are able to find employment and as a result he must work harder in order to save for all-important trips home.
Experts believe up to 10% of Myanmar’s workforce has followed in Win’s footsteps. Fragile livelihoods and rural poverty have driven many to surrounding Asian states in search of work building skyscrapers, manufacturing goods, or supporting the many hotels and restaurants in the region, among other professions. In 2020, remittances to Myanmar fell by $300 million as the pandemic hit the area hard. However, this didn’t stop Win from sending all that he could home, as he knows he’s in Kuala Lumpur for the long haul. Win said he will cherish the moment when he is able to return to his family permanently, but for now, he knows the most important thing is to keep working toward his goal.
At Ria, we recognize that each customer has their own story, and we strive every day to listen to their needs and to help them create a better everyday life. For more stories featuring migrants across the globe, browse our World We Share section.
If you too are living abroad like Win Zaw and want to send money to your loved ones back home, you can visit our stores or download the Ria Money Transfer app to get started.
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