Sawmi’s Story

My name is Sawmi (Lal Sawm Lian) and I was born in a small city called Falam in Chin State, Myanmar (Burma).  Because of my father’s job, our family moved to Hakha the capital of Chin State when I was 5 years old and then we settled in Yangon (Rangoon) in 1981 when I was 8.   In 2003 I came to Japan to start a family.  I was blessed with two beautiful sons and we are living happily in Japan. 

I was raised and educated in Yangon which is still the cultural, commercial, and educational heart of Myanmar, but all my grandparents and parents were born in a tiny village called Satawm, in the Hualngo Land, Chin State which is located near the border of India. 

Back in around 1904, the American Baptist Missionary opened schools in Chin State.  In those times, the children of village leaders were forced to go to school.  However, most of the village leaders were reluctant to send their children. They would choose children of poor parents and force them to go instead of their own children.  My grandfather, Sai Lian Haia, a poor orphan was forced to go to school which was a blessing in disguise not only for himself but also for his descendants.  He became a teacher, being one of the first educated persons of the area.  He was offered high paying jobs in cities, however, he refused those better opportunities and dedicated his whole life to the education of Hualngo Land’s children. 

Sawmi’s grandparents in Satawm

My father (Kam Lian Buaia), his eldest son became the first college graduate from HualngoLand and Duhlian speaking people in all of  Myanmar.  My father worked hard, struggled, and overcame obstacles to become a parliament member.  He was one of the top 136 members of the central government. My father dedicated all his life to his family, his people, and his country.  He helped to expand people’s horizons through education and political engagement.

Sawmi’s father Kam Lian Buaia

Both of my parents passed away in 2007 only eight months apart.  Then, in December 2011, with three of my siblings, I visited Satawm village for the first time in my life to perform our traditional ritual of erecting monument stones for my grandparents and parents.  According to our culture, erecting a monument stone is the last thing we can do for our deceased loved ones.  However, for me it was “The Journey” which changed my life’s purpose.   In other words, through the painful passing of my parents, God gave me my life’s purpose in Satawm.

Sawmi and siblings at the ceremony

I was shocked with the overwhelming poverty since my parents had left the village.  My heart broke to see the overall condition of the children.  I started to understand the reason why God allowed me to live in the most prosperous countries in the world, getting all the benefits of modern life and at the same time I felt so guilty and was ashamed for not doing anything for the land of my ancestors.

I returned to Japan from my trip to Satawm in January 2012.   Then, I went back to Yangon in July-August 2012 again with my two sons to start an organization to work for the development of the Hualngo Land and Hualngo Land Development Organization (HLDO) was founded; however, that door closed in 2017.  

My very dear friend told me that when a door is closed, another door will be open.  And I am so grateful for Jacob and  Tina for opening a new door to lend a helping hand to the people through Heartship Myanmar Japan.  I am so grateful to my siblings in Myanmar for registering a new NGO.  We are  now all working together to help the people in need and build a better future for Myanmar’s children. God bless Myanmar, and God bless Heartship Myanmar Japan and our team of supporters.

私、ソウミ(Lal Sawm Lian)はミャンマー(ビルマ)のチン州にある小さな村ファラムで生まれました。父の仕事の関係で、5歳の時にHakha(チン州の首都)、8歳の時(1981年)にヤンゴンに家族で引っ越しました。2003年、結婚して夫の仕事で日本へ。2人の息子に恵まれ、日本で幸せに暮らしています。

物心がつく頃からミャンマーの都市部で生活し、大学教育まで受けることができたわけですが、両親と祖父母が生まれたのは、インドとの国境に近いチン州北部、Hualngo Landにあるサタウム(Satawm)という小さな小さな村です。

Satawm village

時を遡って1904年、アメリカのキリスト教宣教師がチン州に学校を作り、周辺の村のリーダーらに子供を学校に通わせよと通達しましたが、多くのリーダーたちは自分の子供を通わせる代わりに、村で1番貧しい子供を学校に行かせることにしました。その1人が、私の祖父Sai Lian Haiaでした。

House where Sai Lian Haia grew up

教育に価値はないとされていた時代に無理やり通わされたことがきっかけで、祖父とその子孫である私たちの運命が大きく変わったと言えます。祖父はその地域で初めて教育を受けた人物となり、教師になりました。都市部で高収入の仕事に就くこともできましたが、祖父は故郷Hualngo Landの子供たちに教育の機会を与えることに人生を捧げることを選びました。

Sawmi’s father Kam Lian Buaia, mother and siblings

祖父の長男であった父Kam Lian Buaiaは、Hualngo Land出身でDuhlian(地域の言葉)を母語とするミャンマー人として初めて大学を卒業し、その後も苦労しながら懸命に働き、国会議員となりました。政府のトップ136人のひとりとして、教育の普及やそのほかの政治的活動を通して、祖国とそこに暮らす人々のために人生を捧げました。




2012年1月にサタウム村から日本に戻った後、同じ年の7月から8月にかけて今度は息子たちを連れてヤンゴンを訪れ、Hulango Landの人々を支援するためのNGO組織HLDO (Hualngo Land Development Organization)を立ち上げたのですが、残念ながらこの組織は2017年に私の手を離れることになりました。

「ひとつの扉が閉まっても、別の扉が開く」と言ってくれた友達がいましたが、その通りにジェイコブとティナと一緒に新しい扉を開き、Heartship Myanmar Japanとして再び人々に直接支援の手を差し伸べることができるようになりました。また、ミャンマーでも父の名前に因んだ新たなNGO組織を兄姉が立ち上げてくれました。ミャンマーに暮らす子供たちのよりよい未来のために、共に協力していきます。ミャンマーの人々、そしてHeartship Myanmar Japanを支えてくれる全ての皆様に幸あれ。