Shan Noodles & Other Things
Trafficking takes many forms [Jeff & Karin’s second trip blog from Myanmar]
Shan noodles is a simple but tasty dish we’ve come to look forward to eating while in Myanmar, and 7 days into our trip we finally found them!
We’re here in beautiful Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State. Because of its location nestled on top of a ridge 5,000 or so feet above sea level the climate is quite nice—low 70s in the day, mid-40s at night—even though we’re in the tropics. Today our partner took us to a local outdoor-type restaurant where 6 of us ate our fill for around $3.25 each.
A small boy hovering near our table caught our eye. This little guy looked to be no more than 8 years old. Our partner said he was probably 12. He kept a close eye on us (in part, we felt sure, because he didn’t see foreigners there often), always ready to report a need to the wait staff—but as far as we could tell he mostly cleaned tables. His day, we learned, runs from dawn to dusk (12 hours), seven days a week. He doesn’t go to school.
At night, tables are cleared and pushed together to serve as a bed for him to sleep on. He never gets a day off, because the restaurant is always open for business. He and other restaurant child workers (it’s illegal for children under 14 to work in Myanmar, but the law is rarely enforced) come much cheaper than adults, so business owners like to hire them. This boy, we were told, earns about $25 per month, plus food and a table to sleep on.
Our hearts went out to him, so we called him over and asked him a few questions through our translator. We had to be careful, however, to not offend the restaurant’s owner—we didn’t want to get the boy into trouble. His name was Theinzan, he said, and his family lives in the city of Mandalay, a day’s journey to the northwest. Our partner said he’s probably treated fairly well because the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol—but children who work in those that do are not so fortunate.
As we left, I (Karin) shook his hand and told him that we have 6 boys of our own. I told him he is a son to the One who created him, and that God loves him. Our team all shook his sweet little hand and whispered a prayer for him.
Some realities are much harder to stomach than others. We were all grieved by his story and that little face that looked on with a smile that seemed to say, “How can I help you today?”
“Oh God, please set the captives free, so that they can be free indeed…”
Stay tuned for our next blog from Myanmar, where we’ll tell you about a fiery little evangelist who’s preventing human trafficking because of your help.
Serving Jesus and you,
Jeff and Karin Trotter
Directors, Human Trafficking & Slavery Ministry