Meet Deborah

When Deborah and her husband started the Jehovah Jirah orphanage 20 years ago, there was little financial assurance, but there was a vision about the kind of life they wanted to lead. Their vision was to look after children.  They currently have 24 children from the ages of 4 to 22 who mostly have been brought to Yangon from the impoverished villages in the Chin Hills where the couple originate from.  Unlike other orphanages, they do not have personal sponsors for their children. Instead of searching for help, her husband went to Singapore to work in a shipyard, sending money home for the past 7 years.  There was no possibility they could sustain the orphanage with the salary coming from a local job. Looking for alternatives, Deborah came to Opportunities NOW with a business idea.  She participated in the SCALE Program to develop her plan for a grocery store.  She wanted to open one in her neighborhood, selling miscellaneous items from cold drinks to rice.  However, after completing the course she was hit with a unexpected tragedy.  Her husband was injured in an accident at work, putting him on a long path to recovery.  Her immediate financial need gave her an even stronger reason to start her business.   She received a loan of 1,200 dollars with special repayment terms due to the recent event.  On the grounds of her orphanage home, she started her business.  She loves how doing this has helped her to become more engaged with the local community where she was once an outsider.  Understandably, when asked what her biggest business challenge was, she responded that it was health.  Just recently one of her children fell ill and had to undergo an emergency surgery.  She had to take out money allocated for the purchase of more inventory.  As a result, sales went down.  However, she remains optimistic about the future.  She is slowly picking up from the incident. When we last visited her home, she was renovating her shop and orphanage with building materials donated by IMED.  She proudly displayed the impressive interior work done by her older boys whom she put through engineering school.    She explained her interest in also opening up a hair salon after her daughter had finished a hair and makeup course.  She feels it would be a great learning platform for her children whom she would employ in the salon like she had been doing with the grocery store.  Opening these businesses would not just be a path to sustainability for her orphanage but also for her children who would leave the orphanage with employable skills.