Burmese-Canadians in British Columbia raise funds for Burma by selling recyclables

Burmese-Canadians in British Columbia raise funds for Burma by selling recyclables

By Peter Aung

On a briskly cold Sunday morning in November Min Min, Ye Htut and Shan Ma collect bottles and cans to raise funds for Burma, 11,748 kms (7,300 miles) away from their homes in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Hundreds of Burmese families now live in Surrey, which is located in the Metro Vancouver area. Min Min, Ko Ye and Shan Ma have been living in Canada for over a decade now. 

Since last year’s military coup in Burma, the three have spent weekends and public holidays working to raise funds to support the Spring Revolution. This is the uprising against a return to military rule in Burma. Ye Htut and Shan Ma go out, rain or shine, braving the cold weather in Canada to collect cans and bottles. They return to Shan Ma’s garage, where they begin to organize everything they’ve collected on their excursions outdoors. They separate the cans and bottles before heading to the depot, where they can receive money back for recycling.  

They receive 10 cents CAD per bottle. Considering they donate $500 CAD per month. This means they collect, organize and sell hundreds, possibly thousands, of bottles and cans every month. “We can donate to Chin State or Sagaing [Region]. We donate to them as soon as we get money. We already donated $2,000 dollars in five months,” said Min Min. “We wanted to find more funds for them,” added Min Min. 

“First, we donated money from our salaries. And then we held fundraising events to donate. We also raise money by selling garbage like cans and bottles so we can donate every month,” said Ye Htut. “When we started doing this our community noticed and they wanted help to collect more. Actually, they are people who don’t collect cans or bottles but now they collect for us. Even they talk to restaurants they know and let us collect,” added Ye Htut.

The three named their fundraising activities “Buu Kon Sal Pyar Pyi Thu Arr.” This means 10 cent cans is the citizen’s strength. Every Sunday, no matter how cold it is outside, Shan Ma goes outside to collect cans and bottles. “I don’t have any income now. But I collect cans and bottles which are garbage to other people. I used to donate money from my salary but now I have no income. So, I ask for help to collect bottles,” said Shan Ma.