The Waymaker Trust is a newly formed charity set up by Khai Aye Zawtha and based within the Mara community in southern Chin State, Myanmar. It is committed to reducing poverty and improving living standards across the region and is particularly focused on livelihood, empowerment and development programmes that equip and enable Mara women to achieve their full potential.
Khai Aye was born in the small, remote Mara village of Lungcawi close to the border with India. She and her siblings grew up in a very poor family that relied on subsistence farming and struggled to make ends meet. Inspired by her devoted grandmother and by her mother who was also the village birth attendant, Khai Aye realized at an early age that studying was the best way for her to improve her own life prospects and those of the Mara people. When she was just 11 years old she left her family behind and walked all day to another village where she stayed in order to continue her education. She eventually attended High School in the town of Hakha but to get there she also had to travel by foot this time for almost a week carrying her food and possessions with her.
Her determination and resourcefulness then led her on another long and arduous journey to Bangalore in southern India where she enrolled at Theological College. For several years as well as studying hard she had to do cleaning work and a variety of other jobs in order to pay not just her own tuition fees but also the school fees of her young brother who was living with her so that he too could have the benefit of a good education. On graduation she became the first ever woman from her village to hold a degree and only the second ever Mara woman to hold a Master’s degree. She can speak 5 different languages and already has a wealth of experience within the charitable sector.
After working for a couple of years as a College tutor in Bangalore, Khai Aye joined the charity ‘Health and Hope’ which similarly strives to improve living standards amongst the poorest people in Chin State. For more than 8 years as their Programme Manager she was responsible for the organization and supervision of numerous healthcare, education, food security and self-help projects. She also co-ordinated the relief effort in response to a regional famine and a series of natural disasters including severe floods in 2015 and Cyclone Mora in 2017.