An army of small dogs, their tails painted blue, greet us at the entrance to U Nyi Nyi Aung’s workshop, tucked away down a small alleyway near Bahan’s bustling market. There is barely room to stand inside the tiny shop: The floor and walls are covered with a brightly painted menagerie of giraffes, dogs, elephants, owls and tigers. A team of girls sit squeezed into what is left of the space, carefully painting faces onto papier-mâché dogs.
Many women from rural areas in Myanmar lack the formal education and adequate skills training necessary to enter the formal employment sector, earn stable incomes and benefit from the growing services industry that is enveloping the country. Marginalised women, however – often disadvantaged by poverty, divorce, limited education and sexual violence – have it worse. Their full participation in society is hindered, with social stereotypes, stigmatisation and the gender-based division of labour excluding them from the mainstream.
Before dawn the girls are already busy. The eldest sister, preparing lunch boxes, chivvies her younger sister to hurry up with her bath, and shouts at the youngest to check her schoolbooks. Wai Wai Tun, 23, lives with her two younger sisters in a hamlet of Thingangyun township, Yangon. She and her younger sister Kalayarni work at the YPI garment factory in Thuwunna township, 15 minutes away.
If you buy your soap in the supermarket, you might not feel so clean when you find out what nasties you’re rubbing all over your body. Most commercially produced bars contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colours, and a whole load of other chemicals and toxins. Not only do they strip your skin of essential moisture, they are also bad for the environment: Every time you rinse that lather down the drain, those polluting chemicals are going with it.
An anonymous collector’s private art collection is being exhibited until July 30 at Gallery 65, Yaw Min Gyi Road, Dagon. The exhibition, Monsoon Art Break 2015, displays 44 acrylic and oil paintings dating back to the 1990s.
Mi Ni Ma, Pho Thar and Hledan Skin Disease are safe now, well fed and well cared for. If their home is a little crowded, they don’t complain, for perhaps they don’t mind that their good luck is shared by many others.
The Myanmar Music Association has announced its inaugural Myanmar Music Academy Awards, set to launch in 2016. MMA Vice president U Lwin Myint told The Myanmar Times that the national awards will recognise outstanding Myanmar musicians.
First, the good news. There is no shortage of puppet shows throughout the country. You can even see them in restaurants and hotel dining rooms, watching while you eat. But, say devotees of the art, this ubiquity bears a heavy price. The quality of the shows, the sound and lighting effects, the music, the crafting of the marionettes themselves, is not up to scratch.