In the bustling city of Yangon, it’s not uncommon to see kids sniffing glue in dark street corners. Most people have gotten used to this sight. The many children make money from selling goods such as flowers, helping on construction sites and in cafés, but often from prostitution and criminal activity such as break-ins as well.
Most of them live in constant insecurity. They are scorned by society, cast out and have no chance at having a normal childhood. Some were sent out to work because their parents could not afford to send them to school, while others are refugees in the conflict zones across Myanmar.
If Street Children’s Day is an opportunity to send a message to and request action from all the governments of the world, then the new government of Myanmar, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, have to show a strong commitment to ensuring the rights of children.
We hope that the following videos help you to understand the plight of street children in the country, and share them to help raise awareness on this tragic, unresolved issue.
The Kids Who Sniff Glue
Growing up on the streets of Mandalay is tough. Many children sniff glue as a means of escapism and to forget their hunger. With no one around to help them, they are vulnerable to abuse and further decline into harder drugs.
I Wanna Go to School
Filmmaker Nyan Kyal Sal told the story of a brother and sister who’ve always dreamed of going to school. Together, they try to escape from obstacles such as gender inequality, poverty, child abuse, forced labour and human trafficking that prevent them from having access to education.
This film was an awarded animation film at the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Myanmar in 2015.
Giving Their Lives Back
“I was 16 years old and always wanted to be a driver. I was approached by a guy who offered me a job as a driver, so I went with him. He then took me to the army and I had to stay for two years.”
For over a decade, children in Myanmar have been recruited to participate in violent, armed conflicts between the state and numerous militarized ethnic groups. Community organizers are working hard to return child soldiers to their families and end this profound abuse of children’s rights.