Everything was new and strange when I came to the children’s home. It was like a different world. I started to understand about good choices and bad ones. I began to make new friends.
I’m kind of like most of my friends here. My family is really poor. My father is a soldier and is often away so my mother can’t take care of all of us.
I’m Lawjao and I’m twelve years old. It’s taken me a while to get into studying and learning but I’ve been living at the Shan State Children’s Home for a while now and love it! I’m now studying at grade 3 in Chinese and grade 2 in Burmese.
Because my mother couldn’t feed me, my choices were to go to school or be a soldier with my father. I didn’t want to be a soldier. My mother heard about the school here in Myanmar and she came and discussed me with the staff for a long time. Finally they said, “yes!” because they didn’t want me to have to join the army either.
I love to play football (soccer). White is my favorite color, but it’s hard to find really white things and keep them white! I like Chinese more than Burmese. I would love to teach disadvantaged kids like me one day and help them have a chance for a better life.
Myanmar (Burma) remains unsettled and continues to maintain some of the highest numbers of child soldiers on the planet. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader for the national democracy movement of Myanmar, faces many challenges in her plans for peace. In her Aug. 31 speech, Suu Kyi pledged to establish a “democratic federal union.” But just a day earlier, a military spokesman dismissed the term, saying it did not comply with the 2008 constitution drafted by the military.
Even though there was a landmark peace conference on the 31st, the Myanmar military maintains ongoing operations in many of the ethnic controlled regions, some very near our homes. There have been recent attacks against the Shan, Kachin and Taang peoples.
In the midst of these challenges, we persevere to protect and empower children as the hope for their people’s future. This week school begins in several Shan State locations and the kids need assistance with books and school supplies. The army has periodically dropped children on the doorstep of our homes this year – including one this week! This puts great tension on our staff who are trying to make do with limited supplies and space.
Look for more news through the end of the year about the exciting things going on in the Upper Mekong (Golden Triangle) region.