(LinkAsia: February 3, 2012)
This week, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi began campaigning outside Yangon for April's by-elections. The Nobel Laureate will continue her tour around the country to win support for other candidates from her party. If the politics of Burma has become easier, it doesn't matter to the hundreds of thousands of Burmese who fled the country's military government. At least 140,000 live in Thailand. And for most of them, life is brutal. NHK has the story of one young refugee.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: January 30, 2012
Mae Sot marks the border between Myanmar and Thailand. The far side is Myanmar. Every day people cross from Myanmar, often illegally, to look for work. They total around 20,000 a year. They expect a better life, but often they find reality is tough. This garbage dump is close to the river. I'm standing at a garbage mountain in the town on the Thai border with Myanmar. The scene is really terrible. Here people from Myanmar make a living by collecting garbage. The mountain of trash is dotted with people. They are searching for scraps of steel and plastic to sell. Thirteen-year-old Zimintu came here with his family five years ago. He earns about a dollar a day, too little to feed his family of four. Picking vegetables out of the garbage is sometimes the only way to get enough to eat.
My father is sick, so I have no choice but to do this.
A local NGO has built a school near the garbage site to help the children. About 150 students attend the school. They all live at the dorm, but they get medical check-ups and free meals through the school. Zimintu's younger brother studied at the school two years ago. After Zimintu finishes his day collecting garbage, he goes to the school to pick up his brother. He wishes he was also playing with his friends. But he has to support his family.
Put the sweets in your bag. Let's go home.
He hopes that one day, he too will go to school and become a doctor.
Working at the dump site is no fun at all. It's just that there's no alternative job. I want to return to my hometown someday.
Zimintu endures a tough job to support his family, but that doesn't stop him from dreaming that one day things will get better. Khemmapat Rojwanichkun, NHK World, Northern Thailand.