Children are the "life" of any community and how they are treated is a goodway to judge a society and its values. Any society that exploits its youth or abandons this most valuable resource is literally "discarding" its ownlifeline to the future. When one contemplates the vast number of childrenleaving Myanmar for a safer chance at life in Thailand, Malaysia,Bangladesh, or India, one wonders at the lack of wisdom inherent inBurmese governmental policies. Or, maybe it is the 'perverse' wisdom of agovernment that only sees a future for itself, its 400,000 man army, andthose who would join or serve it. (Related article
)The Federation of Trade Unions in Burma estimates there are two millionBurmese migrant workers in Thailand, many of them fleeing the practice of forced labor in their own country. In Mae Sot, there are more than two hundred factories, mostly garment-producing,owned by wealthy Chinese or Taiwanese, with approximately 36,000 legally registered workers.However, local labor advocates assert there are four times as many illegal workers. An ILOreport from 2006 claims that factories in the Mae Sot area have perfected a system of exploitation and a recent
by Ed Cropley (June 4, 2007) describes the situation in thisThai border town as one of "Burmese workers toiling in penury." It is obvious that Burmesemigrant workers in Thailand face a myriad of human rights issues although the situation isslowly changing for the better. (Related report
)In this situation, the children of refugees often suffer the most. Many are forced into child labor just to survive. Others eke out a living by recycling trash, begging, or living on the streets aspick-pockets. The valuable resource of young Burmese minds is presently squandered inMyanmar by a dictatorial government. A young Burmese child, kidnapped by the military tobecome a
, or nowadays, even a young Buddhist monk, has a bleak future,indeed. With a little support and some basic education, the children of Burmese migrant workerscould overcome the local conditions of poverty and exploitation they are beset by.
is a small Thai trading town on the western border with Burma. It has a mixedpopulation of Thai, Karen, Burmese and Chinese. Bangkok and Chiang Mai can be reachedwithin an hour by air, and bus services run regularly to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and all major citiesin Thailand. Mae Sot is the closest point in Thailand to the Burmese capital Yangoon and hasbecome a major gateway to Burma. It has recently developed into a tourist location, completewith internet cafes and budget guest houses. Mae Sot is also opposite Burma's Karen State.The Karen are one of the ethnic groups currently embroiled in conflict with the Burmese Junta,SPDC State Peace and Development Council, in order to achieve greater autonomy.