Sunday Café in Myanmar2 years ago
Sunday is the only day off for garment workers in Myanmar. Almost ninety per cent of garment workers in Myanmar are women. Sunday Café takes place every Sunday at Thone Pan Hla in Hlaing Thar Yar distric in Yangon. Thone Pan Hla is the first association for women garment workers in Myanmar, established in 2014 by Business Kind Myanmar.
Hlaing Thar Yar distric is the area where most of garment factories are.
Thone Pan Hla offers an opportunity for women garment workers to meet, share their experiences, get vocational training and participate in workshops. It is also a place where garment workers can relax, laugh and enjoy their free time. They can have access to magazines, books and different services, like kitchen and laundry, that otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach due to their low salaries. Swiss House is Thone Pan Hla headquarter and hosts also a hostel. Often garment workers come to work in Yangon from different areas all over the country and finding accommodation is not taken for granted.
The name Thone Pan Hla came from the name of a traditional Myanmar flower that unfortunately now is becoming rarer and rarer. It is a flower that changes colour three times a day. The name has been chosen to recall the three faces the working women have to wear: one intimate-private, one at work and one for her family.
I got the chance to participate two times at Sundays Café this summer during my internship at Business Kind Myanmar. In order to celebrate the Myanmar national holiday 19th July, Thone Pan Hla members prepared a fashion show with dresses designed by themselves and a theatrical performance narrating the story of women that have come from the countryside, arrive in Yangon in order to find a job. She finds a job in a garment factory where she is not well treated, but while discouraged she is going back to her family, she met an other woman that helps her…
The pictures were taken during the show, the preparation and the celebrations.
To learn more about Thone Pan Hla follow them on Facebook
To learn more about Business Kind Myanma
Pictures by Chiara Tommencioni Pisapia