A pick-up truck rolls along a dirt path running through a crowded slum located in the industrial area of Hlaingthayar township. A group of children quickly gather around the back of the truck as it comes to a gentle halt. They wait patiently as volunteers sitting at the back dole out cups of freshly made soy bean milk to each child. The man behind the wheel is Peter Saw, who for the past two months, along with other volunteers, has been delivering soy milk to the children living in these slums.
While a new lease of life is being breathed into the country with the rise of a more democratic rule, much of Myanmar still suffers from the legacy of an oppressive military junta. Many households continue to lack food security, leading to unbalanced diets and poor nutrition especially for growing infants and children.
Peter piloted the milk truck program as an initiative to tackle one of the many issues that the local children face today – protein deficiency. The pressing issue at hand for these children is a lack of access to quality rather than quantity when it comes to protein. For most of the local children, the predominant source of protein comes from cereal products such as rice and other grains. Protein from plants are less desirable than animal protein because they do not contain all the essential nutrients that one gets from eating meat.
Peter’s project hopes to close or at least bridge the gap in protein deficiency by providing these children with an alternative that is readily available and cheap whilst still being able to provide them with the essential nutrients missing from their regular diet.
Peter and his team make a 1 hour drive up to the local wholesale market once a week to purchase soy beans, which they then bring to their office near the slum to make the milk. Soy protein has been thought to be an excellent source of dietary protein and is widely used in the developed world as a source of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike. It is also easily available and accessible to the poorer population, which makes it an ideal product for low income families.
While it is still in its early days, Peter already has plans for the future if his project proves to be successful and beneficial to the locals. For now, Peter is only able to deliver limited quantities of soy milk. His current machine can only produce small quantities and even if it was capable of producing more, the milk is unable to last more than a day in Yangon’s heat.
Peter is currently in the process of purchasing a sealing machine and refrigeration unit which will allow the milk to be kept fresh for a longer time and also allow him to bring in larger quantities for the locals. He also hopes to rent out bicycles to the locals so that they can make extra money from the sale of the extra cups of soy milk. Peter is now hosting a soy milk making and distribution activity to help fund the group’s operations.
How can you help?
More manpower and funds (from what you pay!) can help Peter and his team reach out to more communities through purchasing more beans, machinery, and just by the fact that there are more hands on deck!
If you’re planning a trip to Yangon, you can sign up here to assist Peter and his team in the following ways:
- Make a batch of soy bean milk with the team
- Drive out with the team to two sites for distribution
- Help out in the distribution, and interact with the children!
- Learn more about their existing and future works, and how you can possibly help out even after the 4 hours with them
*Take note that the program runs only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays!
Join Peter in his soy milk nutrition campaign! It’ll be a humbling, inspiring, and eye-opening experience for you, just like how it was for us!