Though born with a physical deformity and facing many challenges, he has not let anything hold him back from working hard, learning new skills and honing them to make his life beautiful too. “There are many things that I feel unsatisfied about in my life because of my physical difficulties. But I have not let my disability define me,” says the 31-year-old, who is from Hpar Pu village in Hpa-An Township, Kayin State, Myanmar.
Ko Saw Chan Thar shares that he received his first prosthesis in 2009 at the Hpa-An Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Centre run by Myanmar Red Cross Society with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He is now one of 55 people across Myanmar participating in a programme to support people with disabilities start their own businesses. Through the programme Ko Saw Chan Thar was given materials, tools and equipment to set up his own barber shop.
My life has changed significantly since I received support from the ICRC. I used to rely on my parents and siblings, but now, I am a businessman with goals and plans. This is a starting point to rebuild my life. I am eagerly awaiting the summer season as it will bring in more clients.
Ko Saw Chan Thar
His positive attitude is helping Ko Saw Chan Thar persevere even through the challenges he has been facing in his business. A few months after he opened his barber shop, his village was hit by heavy rains and severe flooding, and he had to temporarily shut down business. “The water rose to almost my waist level. We tried to salvage what we could and moved our furniture to higher ground,” he says.
When things began to get back on track, sporadic power cuts affected business. “Sometimes, I had to stop halfway during a haircut because of the power outage. It made some customers hesitant about returning to my shop for service,” he says.
To help him overcome this challenge, the ICRC supported Ko Saw Chan Thar with a battery-operated inverter. “Now I am rebuilding my network and gaining the trust of customers by assuring them that I have a solution for the power cuts and can deliver good services,” he says.
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