An Empowerment Story - Chapter 4: Pwint Phyu


When we met Pwint Phyu on outreach, she was traumatized and broken. Her mother had caused her tremendous childhood pain and focussed on earning money rather than looking after her. As a result, she felt intense hatred towards her mother. Through hearing her trafficking journey, we learned that she had been sold to a military brothel. Our team met her on the street and brought light into the darkness that was her world of addiction and repeated trauma. We offered her hope and informed her that there was a place she could come, a lighthouse where women and girls can have a safe space to heal, learn and find practical support.


She was one of the first to experience our new drop-in center model and at first, she didn't come regularly. She was chaotic and uncommitted but slowly, as she went through the counseling, hope was revived inside of her that her future could be different. She began to show an interest in nail and beauty work, so we started to train her. Pwint Phyu had very low self-esteem and strong feelings of shame and worthlessness. She had self-doubt regarding whether she could ever learn anything, and questioned whether she could ever have a job that would offer her dignity and respect?

At the time she joined the nail art program, Eden had its largest-ever single rescue of 150 Vietnamese women, facilitated by our chartering of an airplane. As these women awaited repatriation, they wanted to share their skills with Myanmar women and girls and Pwint Phyu benefited from this training. She learned how to use the equipment, nail extensions, and manicures, and became highly proficient at nail art. The confidence boost this gave her was amazing and we realized she was also an exceptional teacher.


As the Vietnamese girls shared their giftings with Pwint Phyu she now shares hers with women and girls in the Eden drop-in centers. She is a confident, reliable, and highly skilled teacher and all the women and girls respect her talents and giftings. She has compassion, patience, and love in abundance for these women. This work, and the training we offer to women recovering from trauma, can be slow and requires careful planning and repetition. Often trauma brings about memory and concentration difficulties which makes learning challenging and takes time. Despite these obstacles, Pwint Phyu has deep empathy and compassion and gives every woman she works with the confidence to keep trying.

Walking beside women and girls who have experienced deep trauma is a commitment, and one that is extremely important. It is not a quick fix and transformation does not happen overnight but in the last 20 years, we have seen thousands of women and girls' lives transformed by the power of commitment. Empowerment is a word that so many people like to use, but the practicality of empowering others is a journey, it takes the investment of time and dedication to see someone like Pwint Phyu become free from oppression, walk into freedom and live a new life.

Pwint Phyu has taught us that raising up women who have been through the program to be future trainers and teachers is highly effective. As they become role models and pioneers, they also lead other women to also light the way.  This model meets the immediate needs of the women in our program, benefits the sustainability of our programs, and provides a future filled with hope and freedom for all. 


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"The amazing work that Eden’s doing is changing lives one at a time. And it doesn’t stop with just bringing people off the streets. The restoration and renewal of hope through training of a trade and work placement is something truly admirable and sorely needed in this generation!"

Charissa | via Facebook