Doh Eain began informally when towards the end of 2015 we helped our now team member Gulam and his family renovate their second apartment in a historical building on Bogalay Zay street. Due to the illness of their mother, this family had run into financial trouble. Receiving financial and design support from us, their apartment was upgraded to modern standards and rented out to a new tenant. Renovation was paid back within a year, while the family started enjoying a solid monthly income. Soon after, family members and friends owning heritage spaces started approaching us with similar requests for restoration help.
In 2016, still informally, we also started converting one of Yangon’s many trash alleys into a small vegetable garden, thinking that these spaces should be used for something more enjoyable than waste. While initially the project met with surprise of the neighbourhood, slowly people became more interested, especially as children started to play in the garden. Early 2017 the garden went viral on social and local media and the local government threw its weight behind several more “trash alley to alley garden” projects.
We realised that heritage restoration and upgrading urban spaces is not only of value to a city and its historical and cultural identity, but can also improve people’s livelihoods, support neighbourhood’s socio-economic growth, and contribute to social cohesion, health, wellbeing and sustainability. Preserving and improving heritage and urban landscapes directly with the people and communities that inhabit them will be key in maintaining city’s unique characteristics and creating an urban environment that will make people and society thrive. Thus, we formed Doh Eain and set out on this mission.