This continues a series of profiles we started last year on Indow employees. This one share our experience employing refugees and Myo’s experience with us.
Myo cuts tubing on the Indow factory floor, a job that requires precision and patience.
He reads the laser measurements of people’s window frames sent from around the country and cuts the silicone compression tube so that each insert fits snugly inside its respective window.
He is more than qualified, having received a B.S. in physics at Rangoon University in Burma as well as a machine tools vocational degree.
His path to Portland and Indow is long and involved.
Myo worked for an international engineering company – Cosmo Engineering – straight out of university making punches and dies, chutes and cams. But he fled his home country in 2002 for his company’s Malaysian branch after the military government began investigating his involvement in the 1988 university student protests.
“We need democracy and freedom,” he explained. “The students need to protest.”
It wasn’t safe for him in Malaysia either. In 2012, the United States granted his family refugee status and he moved with his wife and two children to Texas. There he worked and saved until his family could move to Portland to be closer to friends and take advantage of a good public transportation system. He takes TriMet from his home near SE Division and 82nd to work on North Interstate every day.
“Everyone works together and cooperates – we give each other a helping hand,” he said of his new job. “I want to grow Indow.”
He plans to study at Portland Community College to improve his English. Through a program with the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization that matched his savings, he was able to buy a used car. When asked what he misses about Burma, he said, “everything”: his friends, his family, the noodle dish Moke-hin-khar, the British-style buildings from when Burma was a British colony. Inspired by our work with Myo and IRCO, Indow helped found We Hire Refugees.
But certain things remind him of Burma like the conifers in Portland, which he had in his hometown, Kalaw.
What does he like best about the U.S.?
“Everyone has human rights,” he said. “If you’re not satisfied, you can tell the government, ‘You’re wrong.’ In Burma you can go to jail.”
Freedom of expression is something we’re thinking a lot about right now. Indow helped create greater public access at Alcatraz for the groundbreaking Ai Weiwei exhibit on human rights by lining the broken gun gallery windows of the New Industries Building with inserts.
We are happy working at Indow has helped Myo establish new roots in the United States.