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Trishaw drivers receive an unexpected gift

Trishaw drivers in Pyinmana form a queue to collect donations of 100,000 kyat each from businessman Soe Tint. (Photo: Pyinmana Time / Facebook)

Trishaw drivers in Pyinmana went home with heavier pockets this week after receiving an unexpected gift from a wealthy businessman.

Soe Tint, owner of the Soe Electric and Machinery Company Limited, handed out donations of 100,000 kyat ($85) each to some 680 trishaw drivers in the central Burmese town on Tuesday and Thursday.

A representative of the company said his employer had multiple reasons for this remarkable act of generosity toward a group that rarely receives such attention.

The first, he said, was that Soe Tint was born in a village east of Pyinmana and after his parents died he moved to the town, where he completed school thanks to the support of his teachers. Therefore, he said, he wanted to give something back to a town that had been so good to him when he was growing up.

Another reason is that May is the hottest month of the year in Burma. This year has been especially unbearable due to the El Niňo effect, which has had a devastating effect on crops and farmers’ livelihoods, but also made life a lot more difficult for manual labourers such as trishaw drivers working in the towns and cities.

Lastly, the company representative said, Soe Tint wanted to help the trishaw drivers cover the cost of sending their children back to school as the summer holidays come to an end in about two weeks.

Soe Tint entered the electrical industry as an engineer working in repairs before going on to found his own small enterprise in Rangoon. He then expanded into manufacturing and distributing power transformers and today has one of the largest machinery businesses in Burma.

Pyinmana is one of eight townships in the Naypyidaw Union Territory, which earlier this week saw dozens of workers from a factory in Sagaing Division arrested after marching from there to the Burmese capital to protest alleged unfair treatment by their employer.