Children Earmarked to be Sold • Myanmar

Natural Spring

Earlier this year, two Hope Street representatives travelled to Myanmar to check out a locally run project which we may get behind.

Myanmar’s Shan State is the world’s second largest producer of illicit opium (after Afghanistan) 1 and has been a significant cog in the transnational drug trade since World War II. 2  Opium production is attractive to impoverished farmers as the financial return from poppies is seventeen times that of rice. In 2012, there were an estimated 300,000 households working in the Opium industry in Shan State alone, and the total Opium yield from Myanmar was 690 tons (valued at USD $359 million). 3, 4

Addicted farmers live life craving their next fix, their children only a burden to their habit.

The prevalence of Opium trading has caused an over-proportion of drug addicts within Shan State. Many villagers are injecting Opium and Heroin among other drugs. 5  Addicted farmers live life craving their next fix, their children only a burden to their habit. One in every three young boys is given to the ethnic army *6 and many young girls are sold in to prostitution in China and Thailand. We heard unverified reports of 13-year-old girls selling for $5,000 USD.

Hope Street has connected with a local pastor and his wife who are doing their best to make a difference. They have rescued 35 children who were earmarked to be sold. Their vision is to raise these children with an education and moral foundation, then send them back to their villages as leaders who can make a change.

We’ve connected with a local pastor and his wife who are doing their best to make a difference.

The pastor, his wife, their three biological children and the 35 rescued children all live in a three-bedroom house and outdoor shed. The children are incredibly happy but the overcrowded home does take its toll on their health. The project receives no international funding. Rent is paid by sporadic donations from local friends, wild frogs and bamboo shoots are foraged for food, and firewood is collected weekly from the closet forest. Schooling is free, but with a student to teacher ratio of 150 to 1, the children are struggling to pass. Private tuition is the norm but this home can’t afford it.

We’re on a journey to potentially partner with these locals to help them achieve their vision. There’s a long vetting and evaluation process that we need to finish before we can commit, however we’re confident that this project aligns with our heart and mission.

Watch this space!

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Homework time.

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Focused on homework.

Some of the rescued children.

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Preparing wild bamboo shoots which have been foraged for dinner.

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Hope Street representatives with all of the children.

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Catching wild frogs for tomorrow’s lunch.

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Opium poppies nearly ready for harvest.

References

  1. UN report: “Opium cultivation rising in Burma”. BBC. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. James, Helen (2012). Security and Sustainable Development in Myanmar/Burma. Routledge. pp. 94–. ISBN 9781134253937.
  3. “The Spike In Myanmar’s Opium Production Could Destabilize All Of Asia”. Business Insider. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  4. “UN Says Burmese Opium Production Rising”. Irrwaddy organization. 31 October 2012.



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