Four years ago we met Sai Aye and her wonderful smile... so broad and generous that you can't help but smile along with her.
Sai joined Prosperity Candle as a candle-maker in 2015 after relocating to the U.S. from a refugee camp along the Burmese-Thai border. Living more than 10 years in that camp, she was given the opportunity to move to Springfield, MA to create a brighter future with her family in peace and safety. Every morning when we come to the studio, we see Sai laughing and sharing stories with the other Burmese women artisans. Sometimes she is even singing while skillfully pouring candles. Over the years we've had the pleasure of getting to know Sai, and she has happily offered to share a glimpse into her life here in Massachusetts.
1. Sai, can you tell us a little about your family?
My kid’s names are Sky Htoo and Rosy Htoo. Sky is five and a half right now, and will be turning six in December. Rosy is almost two. Her birthday is also in December. They like to play with their friends in our front yard and I also take them to my friend’s house who lives close by. They are refugees too, from Thailand. We visit a lot. I see Moo Kho and Tha Thay, and their kids play with mine. My friend has cute little white colored dogs and two birds that Sky and Rosy like to play with.
2. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
We like to go shopping with the kids at the Holyoke mall, TJ Maxx and the Dollar Store. Sky started picking out her own clothes for school.
3. What do you like the most about living in the United States?
Freedom. I love the freedom. I like that you can do whatever you want, like getting in the car and driving to the store, whenever you feel like it. You don’t have to worry about getting stopped by the police and going to jail, like in my home country, and breaking rules. I have my driver’s license and car. It’s really nice.
4. Do you have a favorite TV show or movie you like to watch?
I like to watch movies sometimes on Netflix. My favorite show is Hawaii Five-0. I have seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. They go up to season 8! I love the story of the police, like FBI, who find the bad guys and put them in jail.
5. What do you enjoy about candle-making?
I like pouring the candles and labeling and cleaning the vessels after they are poured, especially the ones for The Little Market.
6. Do you have any favorite scents?
My favorite scent is Blue Fir & Spice! It’s sweet for me and smells like Thailand ice cream. I don’t like Tobacco or Cinnamon scents.
7. The Eastern States Exposition is a really big fairgrounds near you. What was it like going to an American fair for the first time?
I went to the Big E for the first time last year with my family. We walked around and the kids went on the little rides and played games. I didn’t go on any of the big rides, like the roller coaster or Ferris wheel because my heart would die! Especially the rides that go high in a circle or swing back and forth. My first time in America I went to Six Flags with my friend and I remember thinking “oh, that looks like so much fun” when I saw the roller coaster. But once I was on it, I was scared and said never, never again would I do that! No more, no more! It’s funny now.
8. Do you have a favorite song or type of music you listen to?
I mostly listen to poe karen song, which is in the language I speak karen.
9. Do you have a favorite dish you like to cook at home?
My favorite dish to cook is curry with meatballs and fried vegetables. I get broccoli and long green beans from Saigon market in Springfield close to my house.
If you enjoyed hearing Sai Aye's story send her a message saying hello or share her story with a friend! Who knows... maybe one of you also loves the show Hawaii Five-0!