Limited awareness of children’s rights, compounded by one of the highest poverty rates in Asia, puts millions of children in Myanmar at risk of trafficking and other forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.Read more
Australian Aid is supporting a street children’s centre at a monastery in Myanmar’s north, in partnership with ChildFund Australia. The refuge provides a place of safety for street kids, who otherwise must rely on begging, domestic work, prostitution and rubbish collecting to survive, and are exposed to danger on a daily basis.
In addition to providing food and shelter, the centre has a strong focus on addressing the emotional and psychological health of street kids, through activities such as meditation workshops, art, music, counselling and team sports. Vocational training is also available. These programs are critical in helping young people at the centre restore trust, build confidence and regain hope for the future after a life of abuse and exploitation at home and on the streets.
Sixteen year-old Maung has lived at the refuge permanently for two years now, having been without parental care for almost half of his life. At the age of 10, he was forced leave school to work in a gold mine. Grinding poverty meant his parents could not afford school fees, and were reliant upon him to supplement the family income. So he ran away.
Having shown a desire to take part in vocational training, the centre arranged an apprenticeship for Maung with a mason working on a construction project in the monastery grounds. He is now learning new skills, saving money and thinking about his future. Maung speaks warmly of his new monastery home and of U Tayzadipati, the head monk who runs the centre. “He takes good care of us. In this place, I am provided with everything I need.”