“Weirdo": The story of Wahso Moe, a child labourer, during the pandemic
8-year-old Wahso Moe works at least ten hours a day in a brickyard. His family is struggling to pay off a debt to the owner and buy enough food to survive. The young boy gets only MMK3500 ($2.50) for carrying tonnes of mud in a bucket on his head. As if life wasn’t already hard enough for Wahso Moe, he suffered injuries and memory loss after being hit by a motorcycle, and people started taunting him, calling him “weirdo” as a result.
More than half a million children are trapped in hazardous work in Myanmar. As the COVID crisis continues and poverty threatens more families’ livelihoods, there is a risk that the situation could worsen.
But, there is hope. All countries of the world - including Myanmar - have ratified an ILO Convention to protect children from the worst forms of child labour. For Wahso Moe and other child laborers like him, the government must now ensure that policy leads to action, and that hazardous work and debt bondage quickly become history.