Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

The future depends on children

Kyaw`s* parents separated just after he was born. His father died when he was about two years old.

Before he came to stay at the street children`s centre, Kyaw lived with his mother in Sagaing. While his mother was out at work, she polished rice, she insisted he stay at home to take care of his sister and help with house work, cooking, and fetching water.

His wasn`t allowed to go to school.

“At home I wasn’t free. I had to look after my younger sister all the time. My big brother bullied me and my mother always shouted at me and blamed me for everything,” Kyaw says.

In 2009, teachers from the centre came to his home as part of the outreach program. Kyaw, then 12 years old, had heard about the centre and wanted to come but his mother had said no.

At that time, Kyaw couldn’t read and write. He felt he had missed out. He heard he could learn at the centre and that it was a good place.

At first he started to come now and again for a few hours each day. Then his sister went to school so he didn’t need to look after her any more. Finally his mother agreed.

After three years, Kyaw has now learnt to read and write to grade 3 or 4 level. But as a 15-year-old he should be in grade 9.

Kyaw wants to learn because he says: “When children become adults they can apply their knowledge in the world. The future depends on the children and their thoughts.

“I enjoy working together in a group here. When we are gardening and watering plants, we feel very happy. We feel we are not doing it because the monks tell us to but because we are looking after our own place. It feels like home. I call the teachers brothers and sisters. They are like friends, but also like family.

“When I fell down playing basketball and hit my head everyone looked after me,” he says. “I feel comfortable. The teachers are warm and friendly and I have lots of friends.”

When he`s older, Kyaw would like to be a rice trader. “I would like to reunite with my family when I am standing on my own feet.”

Read more about this ChildFund-supported street children`s refuge here.

*Name changed to protect this child`s identity.

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