73% of people in the mountainous, western Chin State live below the poverty line.
Further north, in Kachin State, another of Myanmar’s troubled minority regions, the same underlying poverty exists. Extreme poverty has been exacerbated by civil conflict. The breakdown of a long ceasefire between rebels and government troops resulted in open warfare, human rights abuses and horrific casualties amongst civilians.
Though resource-rich – oil, gas, mining, timber – Myanmar, struggles under oppressive military rule, corruption and extreme poverty. It is the world’s third largest producer of opium and is a major source of methamphetamine and heroin.
What are the challenges?
Military rule has created an enormous gulf between the richest 10% and the remaining population. Conflict and human rights abuses continue to affect minority states.The country suffers from very poor infrastructure development – roads, communication and power – and there is almost no health care provision.
Education is inadequate. In Yangon, there is one teacher per 70 children whilst in Chin State, just one teacher per 700 children. Chin state is 90% Christian, thought to be a key reason for its neglect in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Employment is mainly agricultural and forced labour, without a wage, is common.
Grace Children’s Home is a refuge for vulnerable children from Chin and Kachin states who have been brought to Yangon for care.
A home for 20 children, many of whom lost their parents to disease or the result of conflict, we provide clothing, food, welfare care and an education.
In 2013 the home was forced to relocate due to local authority pressure – another sign of prejudice towards these ethnically vulnerable children.