Tailoring a new life in Myanmar
When May was 11 years old, her daily ritual went something like this: attend school, come home and help cook dinner for her family, finish her homework, and then go out to collect empty bottles to sell to boost her family’s income.
It’s not unusual for children in Myanmar to work to help support the family. Many children in May’s area work in dangerous conditions breaking rocks for the construction industry, breathing in dust and handling heavy tools. When the burden of chores and work becomes too much, many children drop out of school, leaving them stuck in a cycle of poverty and exploitation.
When May was 11, she too dropped out of school.
“They were really enjoying themselves,” World Vision youth campaigner, Ryan Drake said, “and were learning vital skills and trades we often take for granted.”
Luckily, her family heard about World Vision’s non-formal education centre nearby, where children like May can gain skills and vocational training while they continue to help their families day-to-day. Thanks to Jetstar passengers who donate to Starkids, the now 13-year-old May attends the centre to learn silk screening, with a view to becoming a tailor.
With its flexible hours, May can do chores like going to the markets before beginning the day of training. She says that if World Vision wasn’t involved in the community, she probably wouldn’t be in school at all. Instead, she would be at home all day with her mother, cooking and cleaning – or perhaps breaking rocks.
World Vision youth campaigner Ryan Drake visited the centre in Myanmar recently and met May. He is adamant that centres like these can help protect children from hazardous child labour and poor working conditions.
“They were really enjoying themselves,” he says, “and were learning vital skills and trades we often take for granted.”
Words: Rose Hartley | Photos: Kristin Stephensen/World Vision