a boy inside a house face hidden in shadows

Can I Ever Go Home? A True Story of Child Trafficking

Cho’s family was desperately poor and in debt. All of the families in his village in Myanmar struggled to have enough food to eat. So Cho (whose name has been changed) and his friends made a plan. They heard stories about jobs that were easy and paid a lot of money in China. As young teenagers it was illegal for them to work in China, but they knew a man who said he could find work for them.

Cho’s mother cried and begged him not to go. But Cho said his wages would pay off the family’s debt in just one year and then he would come home. He knew she would be happy once he started sending money, and he wanted to make his family proud.

a mom standing outside with a solemn expression

Cho’s Unexpected Journey to China

The man took the boys to a remote place in China by bus—a seven day trip. On the way, he took their identification papers and money to “keep them safe.” At first, everything was great. But after a day or two he stopped feeding them and they grew hungry. That’s when Cho began to worry. He wanted to return home, but he couldn’t get away.

In China, the boys were locked up in a house. There was no way to get out, and no food for them to eat. The only water to drink was in the toilet. Cho’s fears became a reality—he had made a big mistake and he was trapped. He might never see his family again.

a boy sitting inside a hut in Myanmar

A Stolen Phone and a Safe Return Home

One of the jobs the boys had was at a mobile phone factory. They worked long hours and were given meals, but not paid. And every night they were locked up in the house again. As part of an escape plan, Cho took a huge risk and stole a phone. Back at the house, he programmed it and called home. With World Concern’s help, the families tracked down the trafficker who demanded an exorbitant fee to return the boys. Though they had no money, the families promised to pay once their children were safely home again.

Most parents never see their child again when they are trafficked, but the traffickers’ family lived near the boys’ village and they pressured him to return the boys. The journey was rough, but with the intervention of Chinese and Myanmar police, the boys finally made it back to their village. Cho “felt like a bird set free to fly” when he saw his family again.

How Cho Is Healing and Moving Forward

After their return, World Concern helped Cho and his friends heal from this traumatic experience and readjust to life in the village. The boys also received vocational training so they could earn an income. Now Cho has completed a three-month course on automobile repair and maintenance. He plans to open his own repair and maintenance shop one day. He urges other young people not to go abroad to work illegally, saying, “Mama’s home is the most comfortable place, so staying home is the best for children and not going abroad illegally.”

a boy working on motorcycle repair in Myanmar

More Happy Endings Like Cho’s – With Your Help!

Cho and his friends were incredibly fortunate to escape their imprisonment in China. Most of the time, despairing parents realize too late that they were fooled and there is nothing they can do to rescue their child. Without help, these families simply have to accept the loss of their cherished daughter or son.

Through the Seek Out and Stop (S.O.S.) child trafficking program, children and their families are learning how to recognize and resist traffickers, they have a place to report suspicious activity and people, and there are safe places for children to spend time when their parents are working. Parents have help to rescue their children and when they come home they receive counseling to help them heal.

a boy smiling next to his mother in Myanmar

You can rescue a child like Cho from the threat of trafficking by registering for the S.O.S. 5k on Saturday, May 11, at World Concern’s Headquarters in Shoreline! Your $48 registration fee or donation is enough to protect one child from trafficking. And every person you get to donate or join you in the 5k will mean one more child is protected.

Sign up HERE for the S.O.S. 5k today!

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Elizabeth Griffin

Elizabeth Griffin is the Senior Writer for World Concern.

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