Abandoned at the Border
It's been a 6 months since Ma Hnin Si*, 15, was abandoned by her father at step-mother at a border town near the China-Myanmar border placing her at risk of falling prey to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Crouched on the floor at a Community Child Protection meeting in the Shan state, Ma Hnin Si’s grandmother tells the story. “I travelled nearly 300 miles to collect my granddaughter from an area which is well known for the exploitation of young women and the trafficking of and women and girls into South-West China,” she remembers.
With significant fears for Ma Hnin Si safety, a community-based Child Protection Group (CPG) established by People in Need with funding from the European Union and Czech Development Agency assisted the grandmother to recover the child and return her to her village.
As Mi Hnin Si listens to her grandmother’s recount of the story she stares blankly ahead. In the year leading up to the event she experienced ongoing violence and abuse from her step-mother, in which case a member from the Community-based CPG have been providing psychosocial support to help her recover from the trauma she encountered.
Since returning back to her village, Mi Hnin Si has been required to work to support herself and her grandmother who receives a modest income undertaking small jobs like washing clothes. ”My dream is to complete schooling and undertake a tailor-course,” says Mi Hnin Si.
Best chances in the future
But without any financial means this is inevitably impossible leaving her at risk of life of poverty and hardship. Through the support of People in Need Mi Hnin Si was able to be enrolled into a tailoring course to ensure she has the best chances in the future.
Mi Hnin Si is one of the many victims as a result of family breakdown in Myanmar, which places children and young people at a higher risk of exploitation and abuse. Mi Hnin Si now participates in the Community-based CPG in her village and shares her experience and to raise awareness about child rights and how to protect children in her community from neglect and abuse.
People in Need is working with community members who are finding solutions to child protection issues in their local community. PIN in Myanmar aims to enlarge the space for the development of a genuine civil society to support local actions towards social protection, in particular the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people.
The project has established CPGs in 30 communities and 30 monastic schools in 3 Regions of Myanmar. The CPGs are made of 15 to 30 community volunteers whose main role is to raise awareness about child protection in the community and the monastic school and manage child protection cases when they are revealed. Reporting severe cases to township authorities, covering costs related to case management and resolving the less serious cases on the spot belong among the main tasks of the group members. In addition, CPG creates and promotes child protection policy for their village, which describes what to do when children are at risk. The project is also raising awareness about child protection cases among the relevant township level authorities who should be, according to local child law, responsible for resolving them.