Myanmar – Nondal’s story.
Arriving in Malaysia on her own from the Mon state in Myanmar in 2011, Nondal barely knew English and her only hope was to find a better life here. She found support from the Mon refugee community and was able to get a job in a coffee shop, where she learned English while working. Feeling more able and confident, she started teaching in the Mon refugee learning centre, before eventually becoming the principal in 2014.
She runs a disciplined and scheduled routine while providing a safe environment for them to learn. She has high expectations from her trainees but realizes that, living in an environment different from their own, it is not always easy to change the traditional way of thinking. But Nondal never gives up and finds the strength to carry on.
She believes that women have the strength and ability to become independent, and to this end, she trains women in the refugee learning centre in various skills. Her mantra is ‘you don’t know if you can do it unless you try’. At the moment, she gets to take a step back and concentrate on taking care of her little boy, who is the center of her world now. A new role, new skills and new challenges are ahead, but she feels confident she will prevail.
Pa Lwoi Kon Sai | Sticky rice with coconut milk
For a sweet treat, this rice dessert is very simple to make for any occasion. Using brown sugar will turn the rice into a darker colour and give a slight caramel flavour to the coconut milk. You can use white caster sugar instead if you want the colour of the rice to remain white.
Serves 10 – 15
500g glutinous/sticky rice
300ml coconut milk
150g brown sugar
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp white poppy seeds
- Rinse the rice under cold water until it comes out clear.
- Put in a large pot and add the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the rice is soft.
- When ready, turn off the heat and keep covered for 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a 21cm by 21cm baking pan, or any other dish you have, and set to the side.
- In a wok or a wide sauce pan add the coconut milk, sugar and salt and cook over medium heat. Stir continuously for 15 minutes until the sugar dissolves and the sauce slightly reduces and thickens. Turn off the heat.
- Spoon the rice into the coconut milk and mix thoroughly so the rice is well coated and all the liquid is absorbed.
- Transfer the coconut rice onto the oiled pan. Spread out evenly and press down lightly with the back of the spoon to smooth the surface. Sprinkle the poppy seeds on top and stand for 1 hour to cool and firm up before cutting.
- Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.