When Aung* was 16 years old, he decided to get a job, like many teenagers do.
But unlike many teenagers, Aung wasn’t getting a job so he could save up for a phone, game console or trip…
…He was getting a job to help his family survive.
You see, he grew up in Myanmar, in a village where many families have difficulty finding work. Especially those already struggling to get by.
His parents looked for a job but were unable to find anything—especially after the pandemic. His sister had a job in a factory, but the factory closed. His brother worked for a construction company, but it had been struggling for a while.
All together, his family made less than $2.15 a day.
So, Aung took on the burden of finding a job to help his family make ends meet.
But just like his parents, he too had a hard time finding work. So when a businessman approached Aung and his friends and promised a good-paying job, he took it without hesitation.
The job was sorting fish—he knew he could manage that.
“We trusted him easily. Without any doubt, we went with him,” Aung told us.
But this job wasn’t anything like he thought it would be.
Instead of working reasonable hours, he was forced to work over 12 hours a day—even when he felt tired or sick.
Instead of getting paid for the work he was doing, he was given nothing in return.
Instead of looking forward to seeing his family at the end of the day, he felt scared that he’d never see them again.
Aung was trapped in forced labour.
Worried that her son was in danger, his mother reported the situation to the Anti-Trafficking Task Force and police authorities.
Because of his mother’s efforts, Aung was successfully found and rescued from the fishing boat.
His mother is so relieved to have her son back.
Thanks to IJM and the caring hearts of supporters like you, we connected Aung to a facility that could give him the proper care he needed: physical and emotional support. IJM also provided the legal support Aung and his family needed to build a case against the perpetrators.
Even though his fight for justice continues in the courtroom, Aung is working at regaining his strength, playing soccer and learning to smile again.
He’s back in school with his classmates and friends and is dreaming of one day representing his country on the national soccer team.
Slowly but surely, he’s taking his childhood back.
Thank you to our generous IJM community for the part you’ve played in his rescue and recovery!