Beautiful Faces and Kind Hearts
When Myanmar/Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948, it started to decline. In the early 1960s, Myanmar was a prosperous country. However, it came under the rule of an oppressive military junta (considered one of the most brutal regimes in the world) from 1962 to 2011. It was being plundered for its wealth at that time by a few. As a result, it became one of the world’s poorest nations. It’s not surprising that little was done to protect the rights of the Children of Myanmar during this time. Commonly, humanitarian violations were committed against its citizens. Child labor is one of the main issues that the government is trying to tackle now. However, it remains common in Myanmar. Poverty is the primary cause of many children out of school and working, often in hazardous conditions.
The country’s troubled political past and its continual efforts to transition from a military dictatorship to democratic rule are challenges. The military still retains control in key areas of the government. It also takes total control whenever they think it’s necessary. That said, the “new government” has continued to improve the lives of the children of Myanmar. Major issues to address and extreme poverty are malnutrition, ethnic conflicts, HIV, clean water, sanitation, and the lack of quality and equal education.
Sadly, after writing this post, Myanmar seems to have stepped “stepped back in time” once more. Or perhaps a better description would be that it has been forced “back in time” while the military has once again taken control of this beautiful country.
All in all, progress has been made. But there are often roadblocks in their way toward progress. For one, the Democratic Government of Myanmar has worked to modernize and improve health care, education, water, sanitation, and safety. They budgeted to support these programs, but they have experienced many set-backs within the government itself. That said, survival rates for children and women have risen. More births are taking place. The children of Myanmar are its future. Thus, efforts are being made to secure a more prosperous future for the Country. As well, “The Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan” introduced in 2016 put children at the heart of its long-term development.
Still, there is a long way to go. While Myanmar’s gross domestic product has risen significantly in recent years due to its vast natural resources, it is often exploited. Even so, the majority of its population is poor, living on less than $3 a day. As well, people in the country continue to be affected by conflicts. For example, In 2019, an estimated 460,000 children affected by conflicts or natural disasters required humanitarian aid.
Unfortunately, much that has been accomplished has been undone in 2021. We can all hope and take individual strides to move this country forward once again.
On another note, Myanmar’s geography and climate make the country vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Not only that, but many low-lying areas are prone to floods, storms, and droughts. The mountain regions are often difficult to access when aid is needed. Inadequate National infrastructure means that many people, especially those who live in remote areas, do not have enough clean water and sanitation facilities to protect their health. All in all, five million children have no access to clean water, and several million children are without access to toilet facilities.
The people of Myanmar are famous for their kindness, generosity, and their bright, optimistic spirit. The people strive to serve others, and at one time, it was the most prosperous country in this part of Asia. Conversely, it is now one of the least developed and most impoverished countries in the world. Be that as it may, the nonprofit CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) ranked Myanmar #2 on its World Giving Index. This ranking was based upon 10 years of data. This does not go unnoticed as people stand on street corners collecting for those in need. https://www.cafonline.org https://www.usnews.com
The Children of Myanmar Face Other Issues
- 55% of children live in poverty
- 50 out of 1000 live births end in death (many preventable)
- 1 child in 22 dies before their 5th birthday
- 29% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition
- More than two million children aged 5- 17 years remain out of school
- An estimated 232,000 children with disabilities do not attend school. This accounts for 2/3 of the total of children with disabilities
- Of the 17% of children out of school, 9% are engaged in child labor
- Over 200,000 children live in religious institutions (mostly Buddhist monasteries) away from their parents. Many more are in orphanages.
- 700,000 children are cared for by extended family and non-relative family care
- 12% of girls (ages 15-19) are married, and 1 in 34 gives birth at an early age
- 3% of children are displaced due to conflict
Children account for around one-third of the total population of over 53 million.
The future for the children of Myanmar is hopeful. With continued and increased commitments and budgets, Myanmar can achieve its goals for growth and prosperity. Finally, fulfilling its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The Children of Myanmar Photos
I took these photos at a refugee camp on Dala Island. This small island is a short Ferry ride from Yangon, Myanmar. The people living here were temporarily displaced in 2008 after Hurricane Nargis destroyed their homes. They continue to live in makeshift houses after 12 years. These children weren’t even alive yet. At this time, they don’t have a clean water source or sanitation. But, due to the kindness of others, there is some progress. While I was there, A local photographer and artist donated proceeds from an art show to purchase mosquito nets and a clean water barrel for each home. All in all, I notice that the people always have a smile on their faces, and they are friendly even in the face of hardship.
photo and post by Danette Ulrich
In early May 2008, Myanmar was struck by Cyclone Nargis, which left over 138,000 dead, tens of thousands more were injured, and 2.5 million left homeless. This was the worst natural disaster ever in Myanmar. Also, the damage was estimated at over $10 billion. This was one of the most damaging cyclones ever recorded in this part of Asia. The Myanmar government estimated the storm destroyed 450,000 of 800,000 homes hit.