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10 October 2019 - Story


Nan San Kham

Nan San Kham is a 16-year-old from a small village in Loikaw Township, Kayah State. Before she joined the local youth leadership group supported by Save the Children, she was afraid to socialize with others and reluctant to speak in front of people. To make matters worse, Nan San Kham was forced to drop out of school in grade eight due to a disability impacting her hand. Her single mother was also no longer able to afford her education costs.

Isolated from other children and instead forced to help out her mother with farming work, Nan San Kham realised the child rights group was an opportunity to re-engage with children her own age and have a positive impact on her community.

“I noticed that other children in our community were actively participating in the child group. I wanted to be a part of that and know more about children’s rights that I was hearing about from my friends.”

After participating in the activities of the child rights group and travelling to different places around her state, Nan San Kham became more confident in herself and was no longer afraid of interacting with people.

“I knew nothing about rights before and now I have learned about children's right to survive, right to develop, right to get protection and right to participate.”

“I haven't got my national identity card yet - and I didn't know that I have the right to ask government officials for it before I joined the group. After Joining it, I have realized that I have the right to a national ID card is concerned with my right to survive.”

Despite some people in the community initially doubting her ability, Nan San Kham hasn’t allowed her disability stop her from rising to the forefront of the child leadership group.

“When I was first appointed as group leader, some people criticized me that I should not be the leader because I have a bit difficulty in speaking and hand tremor. They didn't pay much respect to me as their leader. But people from KRSDO encouraged me and I decided to do my best thinking that they would understand me one day. After seeing my active participation and contribution to the group, now they see me as a reliable leader and I have got their trust. I also want to request all parents in our village encourage their children to participate in the child group.”

Nan San Kham believes that as a result of the child leadership group, children’s voices are now heard more by community members as well as government officials. This is critical given some of the major barriers faced by children in the region, such as a lack of access to education.

“Early school dropout is one of the most critical issues here. We only have up to 5th grade in our village school - and then we have to go to Loikaw for grade 6 and above. After finishing grade 5, parents can't afford to send their children to Loikaw to continue their education.”

“We had a discussion on this issue in our meeting and we decided to request primary school extension up to grade 8 and we presented it to Loikaw Township Child Rights Committee (TCRC). If our request is granted, it will ease the burden of our parents and early school dropout rate will fall in our community. This is also a critical issue for our neighbouring villages. Though I cannot continue my education, I really want all children in our community to be able to finish their education.”

Although Nan San Kham is doubtful she will ever be able to complete her education, she remains passionate and ambitious about the impact she can have on those around her, especially girls in her community.

“If young girls have a strong voice in the community, some issues like child marriage will be reduced. And they will have the same opportunities, like boys do. For example, they will be able to speak up more for the welfare of the village.”

“I want other young girls in my community to see me as a reliable leader who wants what is best for their welfare - and who is actively leading them and courageously asking for the children's rights on their behalf.”

You can read this article on Facebook with Burmese language, here's the link below: