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The vicious circle of urban poverty – Myanmar

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love Him? James 2:5

Hidden behind wealthier houses in the capital city of Yangon are side roads cluttered with bamboo shacks. Many of the families living here have come from country villages. In the village they were rice farmers, but in order to pay for fertilizer or seedlings, they got into debt. They simply could not product enough rice to survive and make even a small profit, so they were forces to leave the village to go to the towns to look for work. Because of the debts they face, returning home is not possible.

The simple houses in the city are small, about the size of a table-tennis table! Normally six people live, eat and sleep in the cramped place. The basics of sanitation, electricity and running water do not exist. A mosquito net, a cooking pot and maybe a couple of mats to sleep on are the only furnishings. If they are fortunate, they have clothes for the children. In order to buy some breakfast, the first thing they do in the morning is pawn their mosquito net or cooking pot. Then they go out and look for work. If they can earn enough that day, they can redeem their belongings in the evening.

Many of these families survive on one income. Jobs are very difficult to find, especially permanent ones. They rely on manual labour which is precarious and seasonal. Men, women and older children work at construction sites carrying bricks and loads of cement, loading ships at the dock or packing seasonal fruits. These few opportunities become fewer during the three months of monsoon rain and various Buddhist festivals which slow down activity.

Some women walk from house to house looking for any washing they can do; others manage to buy a few vegetables from a wholesaler and then walk the streets with a basket on their heads selling door to door. Another way to earn money is to make some snacks and then sell them at the roadside. Waiting outside the school gate is a favourite place because many buy their snacks!

  • Please, pray for these families to find safe, home-based industries to work within. Pray that God will protect them from physical harm and disease and provide reliable income for their families.
  • Please, pray also for groups of Christians to be given access to needy urban areas ignored by the government

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