Martha  ·  Myanmar

A Burmese Woman Remembers Her Past and Finds Her Future in Farming

New Roots, A Farming Program for Refugees, Provides Job Security and Flexibility for a Burmese Woman


My name is Martha Khin Hrin Par. I come from Myanmar, which is also known as Burma. One of the reasons I love my country is because I felt free and happy growing up. We could do whatever we wanted, and use our farmland in whatever way we wanted. It was also enjoyable for me to be with nature.

I was born and raised in a place called Kayah. I grew up doing a lot of farming with my family. We were able to plant a lot of things like sunflowers, rice, beans, and other crops, especially in the summer. The nice thing about the climate in Myanmar is that there are only three seasons; spring, summer, and winter. When the summer comes it gets really hot and that is the best season for farming. In the winter, we still plant, but not as much. We typically plant things like rice or mustard seeds.

I come from a big family, there are three boys and four girls. During the summer, we would farm together. When school started we would go to school and my parents would continue working on the farm. Some of my favorite memories are when after the harvest, my family and my extended family would gather to eat and spend time together. We would share stories. I remember it being a very precious time for me.

Later on, I got married and we had a child. My husband moved to Malaysia and we joined him a bit later. I had two more children there. Then we moved here to Kansas City in 2016 and had our fourth child. We have been here for seven years now. I started getting interested in Catholic Charity programs. I took an ESL class from them because I couldn’t speak English very well. It was there that I found out about New Roots.

I was very interested in joining the New Roots program because I love farming, and I was interested in being able to do something I love and raise my kids at the same time.

So I joined the program and started farming. I love watching plants go through the growth process and produce, and I especially love sharing what I grow with others. Farming here is very different from farming in Myanmar. For one, we don’t use compost in Myanmar, and we also don’t need to water the plants, because it is always raining. There are many differences. Here, I like to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, lots of green produce, and spicy chilis. I get to sell my produce at the market, and whatever I don’t sell I usually give to my neighbors. This farm is another chance for me to connect with my family as well. My kids are usually willing to help with the crops or if I need help carrying things.

During the winter, when we’re not really farming, New Roots offers different classes like cooking classes or other skills. When I have time I attend those, otherwise I do my own projects and hobbies. One of my hobbies is sewing; especially sewing clothes.

My dream is that my children will learn something impactful from me. I want them to find and follow their passions, and do something they really want to do, no matter what it is. I hope they will learn from my hard work and my accomplishments.

One of my greatest accomplishments was raising enough money to buy a house. I took a class on how to save money which really helped me to prepare to buy a house, and I’m really proud of that.

Now I have my house and farming. I can live a healthy and happy lifestyle doing the things that I love.

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