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Wai Yan, 14 years old,
enjoys to play football

Wai Yan was locked up in a training centre. After reunification with his family, he can now be a vounteer fire warden.

An orphan who was reunited with his family

Wai Yan* is an active 14-year old boy, but was growing up in a difficult environment. He lost his mother when he was only three months old. His childhood was marked by the drama of the death of his father, to whom he was very attached to. Being an orphan at a 5 years old, he went to live with his three aunts and their families in a small home. Despite being very poor, the family managed to take care of him. 

But Wai Yan was also known to be a leader among his friends who lived and worked on the streets. He studied at school, but started spending more and more time with them and finally dropped out at his last school year when he was 13 years old. As a teenager, he got into trouble a lot. His aunts were worried about him, and one uncle was very strict and harshly disciplined him, trying to change his behaviour.

The ‘training centre’

One day, Wai Yan had enough and stole the savings of his aunt. He used the money to buy gifts and take his friends from the street to visit temples in Yangon. The security officer at one of the temples was suspicious about Wai Yan’s large sum of money and contacted the family. They were very angry, and decided to send Wai Yan to a Government “Training School”, a detention centre for children living or working on the street and for children in conflict with the law.

Finding the way back to the family

Wai Yan stayed at the ‘training centre’ for three months. He was unhappy about being locked up and missed his family. Our social worker met Wai Yan and listened to him.  His wish was to go home. Terre des hommes made contact with the family. To re-establish the links between him and the family, the social worker met the family members and they looked at options for the boy. After nine visits and a period of 3 month, a care plan that would help Wai Yan get home was developed. It was decided that it was probably best for Wai Yan not to return home straight away but to stay a while with his uncle who lived in a different village. This would give some time for the situation to stabilise and for the family to rebuild trust.

Doing a work with a purpose

We organised for Wai Yan to attend tuition classes and he successfully passed grade 5. He deeply regretted his actions. The family felt that he had changed his behaviour and he could be reunited with his aunts. Terre des hommes supported one of the aunts to establish a grocery shop to have enough income to care for Wai Yan and to make sure everything in the family goes smooth, the social worker still visited the family for three months.

Interested in doing something for his community, Wai Yan wanted to become a fire warden. He received a fire safety course and participated in safety drills in the township. Now, Wai Yan helps his aunt to open the shop and volunteers as a community fire warden, helping his community stay safe. He now has a sense of purpose and feels proud that he is able to contribute to his community.

*The name of the boy was changed to protect his privacy.

Photo credit: ©Giuseppe Salerno