My journey started at dawn and as my thoughts floated through the twilight I reminded myself to keep an open mind.
That I did. But it wasn’t enough to prepare me for what’s to come as I landed at Yangon Airport.
For the next 7 days I followed the nuns of the Good Shepherd Sisters to their mission in Loikaw and Magyikwin to follow up on cases of human trafficking and gender based violence.
I was not born in a village and have not lived in one let alone one that is under served and lack of amenities. The conditions in Magyikwin was a place I could never imagine.The roads were broken and muddy with pigs running all over. Even the clinic was in quite deplorable condition.
I come from a middle class family and I worked as an executive in a company. At the back of my mind I know I will never find myself in a similar situation because I am educated and I will be able to look for a job back home in Malaysia. With this in mind it made me appreciate more the struggles of these women in Myanmar and the sisters who are working to help them.
I can’t imagine what they have been through or what they are going through.
I also learnt that human trafficking is not only across global borders but also very rampant internally. The story of 20-year-old Min Nge gripped me. She went from her poor village home to work in a nursery only to be tortured by her employer.
As I sat there listening to her recount her experiences of endless beatings and torture with no hope of it ending I began to admire her resilience and courage. At one point her torturer asked her friends to pin her down while he beat her with a bamboo and scalded her palm with hot wax. I believe she is able to talk about it now because the nun who was with us was the one who rescued her.
At this point I had turned my attention from trying to imagine the torture to the nun’s courage and the sense of security they have given Min Nge to help her rehabilitate.
I heard someone asked Min Nge if she ever thought of why this had happened to her. She replied “They are rich and I am poor and uneducated.” There was another human trafficking returnee in Rhakine state who seemed to think it was because “I can’t speak their language”.
I managed to get a glimpse into the Good Sheperds Sisters plans to step up efforts in improving the lot of women in these areas. It may seem ambitious but the sisters are passionate about their mission and are always ready to act.
They are all very brave women. Even though they are in such a hopeless situation they still continue to fight harder for a better tomorrow. They don’t just accept their fate.