For a long time, Burma has been ruled with an iron fist by a military regime from the largest people group in Burma, the Burmese.
The regime has persecuted all those in the country who fight for democracy, as well as all those who belong to different ethnic groups. The hill tribes, like the Akha and the Karen, have been treated particularly badly. Children’s schools have been shut down, villages have been burnt to the ground, food deliveries have been stopped and the hill tribes have been exploited through forced labour.
As a result, many of them have fled to Thailand.
Now the situation in Burma has improved a little. Many political prisoners have been released, such as democracy champion and the World’s Children’s Prize patron, Aung San Suu Kyi. But the hill tribe peoples do not yet dare to believe that their lives could get better.
“I have six siblings and our dad has to work really hard for our sakes. My older siblings work too. I’m scared that soon I’ll have to stop school to work and take care of my younger siblings.”
Likes: Studying Burmese.
Wants to be: A teacher.
Likes: Being with my family and watching TV. One house in our village has a TV and we children usually gather there!
Dream: To travel and maybe move to Rangoon, the capital of Burma. And to build a playground in our village.
“I love my parents, but they are old and sick so we are very poor.”
Likes: Studying Burmese,
reading books and magazines, writing and playing ball games!
Wants to be: A doctor. I have asthma and my doctor helped me feel better.
Angry because: So many children are not able to go to school. They have to take care of younger siblings or move away to work.
Happy when: My brother comes home so the whole family is together.
“I often have to take care of my younger brother and do the housework, because my mother has to work so much.”
Likes: Maths and Burmese. It’s good to be able to count, for example when you go to the shop!
Loves: Cycling. Especially cycling fast down steep hills.
Happy that: My father has been released from prison and lives with us again.
Wants to be: A singer.
Dream: To be able to go to university. I also want all the children in my village to be able to go to school.
Text: Carmilla Floyd
Photo: Kim Naylor