Going for gold

A StarKids-supported drop-in centre helped Aung become a swimming champion

A former street child who lost both arms in a tragic accident, 24-year-old Aung is living testament to perseverance through adversity.

At the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, he won gold in the men’s 100m breaststroke with a record-breaking time. This wasn’t his first time at the top; he’d already won two golds at both the 2011 and 2014 Southeast Asian Games.

Aung credits the dedicated teachers he met at a drop-in centre, supported by StarKids through World Vision’s Mandalay street children’s project, with giving him the will to succeed. Having attended the centre as a child, he returned as a teenager after his life-changing train accident.

“The train started running on the track,” he recollects. “A friend gave me a hand and asked me to jump. I landed on the train but without anything to hold on to, I fell off again and ended up under the carriage.”

Aung’s caregivers taught him not to let his disability hold him back. “They supported me mentally … Teachers from World Vision looked after me as their own son.”

While they also provided non-formal education and vocational training, sports became his passion.

“I told myself that if [others] could do it, why not me? The head teacher said she would support me. That’s how I started.”

When asked his advice for other street children, Aung passes on what his teachers taught him: “… we need to have endurance. If we don’t give up, and try hard, we will be successful one day.”