tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   28 May, 2013  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles & rabbits
Myanmar stories - The nursing aide needs to slim down
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   28 May, 2013 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

Monday, May 27, 2013

1435. Myanmar stories - Same name but different destinies

Yesterday May 27, 2013, I visited Khin Khin's office. There was a sun-tanned Myanmar lady with wider hips swaying when she walked, asking her to find her a better job earning more than the $500 per month she was paid for the last 4 years working as a nursing aide for the intellectually disabled. She loved her job as she showed me her mobile phone pictures of her favourite patient and of her cooking for over 200 people in the home and in the monastery.

It is very difficult for Khin Khin to get to know all prospective job applicants by name as several come into her office per day to look for jobs. I noted that this lady has exactly the same name as Khin Khin from reading her resume. Many Myanmar nationals seem to have same names but this was the first time I noticed the exactly identical names with Khin Khin.

"Try and help her find a better job," I said to Khin Khin and I asked the lady to phone Khin Khin regularly to remind her. "She has the same name as you and has a degree in Geography from the East Yangon University. She needs to support her family. If she has a better fate like you, she will not be earning so little. "

"She is too fat," Khin Khin was surprised that this lady has a similar name as hers. "Employers will think she is lazy and will not accept her."

The lady was not offended by this stereotyping of fat being lazy.    
"Where is your home in Myanmar?" I asked.

"In China-town in Yangon. My parents live there."
"Yes, I had been there. Are the people there speaking Mandarin?" I asked.
"No, they speak Hokkien," she enlightened me that the "Little India" street where vendors sell nuts I visited when I was in Yangon was Muslims from Bangladesh, not Indian nationals.
"Why don't you work in Yangon now that Myanmar is booming?" I asked.
"I like Singapore," she could converse in English well. She would prefer a job where she could earn $1,000 and stay out of the employment area.
"Will you get a good testimonial from the employer? You have worked for 4 years to the expiry of your contract."

"My senior officer is hospitalised with some shoulder pain," she replied. "They will give me the air ticket and testimonial at the Changi Airport tomorrow when I have to go back."

This was a lady who was mature in that she did not jump ship when a prospective agent offered her a $1,000 job and freedom to live away from the employer's premises as her contract had not expired.

"How old are you?" I asked.
"I am 38 years old." Certainly age and experience makes her responsible to complete her contract. But there are others who don't care and will job hop at any moment for a better pay. Now she is free to go to interview for the $1,000 job but will need to go home first.

As she left she asked Khin Khin in Myanmar language and Khin Khin told me: "What weight should I lose?"
"10 kg will be good," I replied. "You can always go jogging early morning as I see many Yangon people doing it near the lake.  Don't eat the fatty oily food. Just chicken, fish, vegetables and rice mainly."

It is very difficult to reduce weight on Myanmar cooking which is extremely oily in my observation. Oily food tastes good. In Singapore, the numerous slimming saloons ensure that our young ladies keep slim before marriage. It is difficult for a foreigner nursing aide to earn more in Singapore. In Myanmar, they earn much less, probably S$150 per month.

This lady told me that even if she had graduated from the Institute of Technical Education with a basic nursing diploma, she would get an increment of $50 more per month but it costs much more to pay for the Institute of Technical Education studies. Is there light at the end of the tunnel for her in Singapore? She is happy to do the jobs shunned by Singaporeans but the pay is very low and the hours are long. 

In Switzerland, her type of profession including the job of a chambermaid pays more than S$3,000 per month. Stereotypes that overweight people are lazy seem to be prevalent but it is hard to change the mindset of prospective employers.  I hope she will get her $1,000 job and improve her earnings with experience and taking care of her weight.
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Clinical Research

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All rights reserved. Revised: May 28, 2013

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