A Sudden Coup Happened in Myanmar

On the first day of February together with a nationwide internet shutdown, the people of Myanmar woke up full of resentment and confusion towards a sudden(ly) installed military dictatorship. People from all walks of life marched through the streets daily to show their strong will against the military dictatorship. Since the third week of February, the military junta started cracking down on strikes and demonstrations, shooting at houses and people in several towns, arresting people on the streets and cutting off mobile internet. Due to the crackdowns and internet cut off by the military junta, people are facing financial difficulties especially those who have to rely on the internet for their living.

How People in Villages Make a Living in Big Cities

People in the nearby villages of Yangon and rural areas come to Yangon to make their living. Most village residents grow paddy or beans but for those who do not own land, working in big cities like Yangon is the only choice to make money. On account of the current situations by the military junta, some people left Yangon and fled back to their hometown. Some of them fled back with guilt and anxiety that they might not find a job and be able to support their family. Some of them remained in Yangon as Yangon is their only option to make a living.

A Delivery Man Looking for Urgent Job 

I saw a Facebook post written below .I got curious, so I decided to order some food and have a talk with him. 

I am a Foodpanda delivery man. I have not been working for several days due to the current situation. I am urgently looking for a delivery job to pay for my room rental fee. You can order from your favourite shops and help me with the shipping cost as much as you are willing. If you want to order, please contact me 09780…... ' posted by Hein Lay on Facebook.

Life of a Delivery Man Working in Yangon

Hein Lay, a delivery man from Foodpanda (one of the popular food delivery platforms in Myanmar), said ' I am not originally from Yangon. I came to Yangon to make a living. I am the breadwinner in my family and have four family members. I bought a bicycle to join the Foodpanda delivery service when I arrived in Yangon. I stay(ed) with my friends in a room. We split the rental fee that costs around $ 70 USD per month. I used to earn $ 50-60 USD per week. At the beginning of the crisis, I still had some savings and it was ok not to go out if the situation on the street was not safe for a few days.  But now I have run out of money, so I have to work even though it is kind of dangerous for me. I have to pay for my room rental fee and I need money to send back to my family. I posted a status on Facebook along with my phone number so that people on the internet know my number and can order their needs. I can buy food and deliver their stuff (order) to their desired places. But now it would be quite difficult for me to find the places since GPS is not working offline.' 

'In the COVID-19 period, since the government announced nationwide lockdowns and restrictions, food delivery services got very popular as people had to stay home. At that time, I worked for the whole day till 8pm with a lot of orders. I thought I was really tired even though I got paid according to the number of the routes. I miss how tired I was and long (do you mean look) back to a peaceful Myanmar. Mobile Internet has a great influence on my living because the Foodpanda application only works online. Now I cannot lean on the application and I have to go to the tea shop in the downtown area which is quite far from my home just to post a job seeking status on Facebook to let people know I can buy and deliver their needs. It costs me nearly $ 1.5 USD to buy a cup of tea. That is quite costly for me but I have no other choice, only this kind of expensive cafe has wifi. I wish that I will be able to work like before, may Myanmar get Democracy back and the military coup end very soon.' he said.

People Struggling Due to the Internet Shutdown by the Military

As a result of the mobile internet shutdown by the military junta, many people who make their living via mobile internet, like food services delivery persons and people who have to work from home due to the spread of COVID-19 are now struggling. Some of the people from nearby villages fled back to their original places because of their safety with little hopes of getting a job in the countryside and some persisted to be in Yangon with no other choice. Some of them are solving their financial problems by selling homemade hand wash and some homemade dishes.

Some People Helping Out the Delivery Men

Some people are giving their hands by posting a collection of phone numbers of delivery men online and disseminating the pamphlets along with their phone numbers. 

Villagers in the big cities of Myanmar having a tough time coping especially the violence and internet blackouts that came with the coup. 

We wish for peace and that the internet will be restored soon. 

May 28, 2021