Tug-A-War for Child Soldiers
Between the Burmese Army and an ethnic rebel group, a village sprawls along a lazy river. There are many different ethnic groups there - Shan, Wa, Lahu, Palong, and Kokang, to name a few. It’s a big village, as far as villages go, and many smaller villages are scattered through the hills and mountains surrounding it.
This village exists in the middle of a tug-a-war between these two armies. Both sides occasionally come to collect soldiers, many of whom are children. Locals have had to learn how to play both sides to survive. Parents, concerned for the survival of their children and hoping to give them a better life, will sometimes give them to wealthy households in the down-land cities. Sometimes life for these children in the city is the life of a slave; sometimes it is one of better care and some education. It’s a gamble. Other parents try to send their children away to a subsidized boarding school. Children in school are less likely to be conscripted.
From the reports we’ve received, Teeu is one of the children who was caught in this conflicted township. Seeing that conscription was likely, his mother begged a traveling social worker to take her son.
Teeu’s father was a police officer whose leg was maimed in a crash with a Chinese farm vehicle. Teeu has two older brothers. When he left home, one was in the army at an unknown location and another was a drug addict. Sending Teeu away was his mother’s last hope of keeping a child safe. There was a tearful silence when Teeu left. Everybody was too choked up to talk. His mom’s last words were, “Don’t worry about us and listen to this good man, son of mine.”
The social worker negotiated a deal with a Chinese businessman for a horse for Teeu to use and they rode for 4 ½ days through the mountains. Finally, they arrived at a main roadway and rode the bus another 2 days before arriving at our children’s home.
Teeu has been with us 7 years now. He’s become a jammin’ drummer. He is also happy and healthy. Not all children who come to us are with us as long as Teeu, but it’s nice when they are. Many children join the work force at 14-15 in countries like Myanmar/Burma. Some children are able to return home after a year or two. No two situations are exactly alike.
You can continue to be an advocate for children like Teeu by getting your friends to rock Project: AK-47 merch and to join the monthly $7 campaign. We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this and care about children like Teeu. Caring counts and helps us make choices to help people when it’s within our power to do so.