“Mother works hard every day. Father can’t do much because he has a bad leg from a terrible fall when he was a child. I am Gen, and have a younger brother and sister. My family is not educated but I am becoming a scholar. I study hard in school every day. My parents proudly speak of me!
This rainy season the soldiers came to our village home. They wanted to take me into the army; my parents were scared and told them I was at the (PAK47) children’s home. My parents begged them to leave me alone, but the soldiers were strong. Now the soldiers have come for me many times…one day soon they will take me away…”
When Gen first came to us he struggled with confidence socially, partially because of his cleft palate. He has studied hard and has also come to greater peace of heart and now loves the evening community times. Earlier this year we sent out a report from part of our local team:
“The young boy, Gen, arrived safely from across the border and is staying with us. We’ve had lots of fun with this 9-year-old as he waits for his cleft lip surgery. He only owns 2 sets of clothes & no underwear, so I went through the boys’ clothes & he has a nice range of things now for all seasons! I also bought him new undies, so he’s set.
We will travel up to the big city for his cleft surgery on Wednesday. Please remember the journey – it would be best not to be stopped on the way. We have introduced him to Lego & Wii, both of which he loves!! He usually lives in a very busy children’s home with 120 others, so he loves all the extra TLC. Please ask that he will be healthy so the surgery can be done quickly and not delayed.”
Here is the update from our team that came later – a few weeks after Gen’s surgery:
“Little Gen is now safely back in the children’s home near the border and he walks with his head held high! We have enjoyed the privilege of hosting him and helping him over the past month. We have seen him grow in confidence and joy and I personally have been privileged to see our own children reach out to him and include him in our family.”
A new crisis:A few years back, Gen’s parents unwittingly entered him in the government register, even though he was gone from home and living with us for his protection. (Usually it’s better to consider a son or daughter dead or missing if they are not at home during the government registrations.) Because he is registered, the army is eager to conscript him. They were able to track him down to our children’s home. Our social workers have traveled to the capital and appealed the army’s decision four times this year (which is not easy with our limited resources). Thus far, they’ve able to keep him out of the army, claiming he needs more time to recover from surgery. We have Gen for the duration of the school year.
Our staff reports Gen has increased confidence and a quick smile to share with friends since the operation. We are grateful for this. We don’t know what is next for Gen once the school year is over. His story represents many, many battles we are fighting every day for these children. Each one is worth fighting for…and we hope you will join us in the fight!
- Cleft Lip and Palate
- Child Soldiers
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- Burma’s Children in Arms
- We still need to fight for human rights in Burma