Burma, Especially Its Children – Post 5: And what is life like for tweens and teens in Burma who come from families without as much income as middle- and upper-class families?

How Children Live – Part 2

Tweens and teens from lower class families quit school early and work to help support the family.


Many families sell something to make their living, and the kids jump right into the family business.

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Zedgyo Market

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Zedgyo Market

Some older children do hard physical labor.

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Zedgyo Market. Boy carries heavy load.

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Zedgyo Market. Boy pulls heavy load.

That said, there was some begging as well as lots of aggressive marketing going on to wring dollars from tourists. Kids learn how to do a sales pitch and be very persistent from a young age. Selling postcards is the most common sales product on the streets.

Yangon, Burma, Myanmar. Streets.

Despite having to work so hard, I saw some of these children and young adults socializing and enjoying time together.

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Zedgyo Market

I found varying statistics on the average Burmese household income; figures found online ranged from between $200 and $459 per year. Whichever is the real number hardly matters – you get the picture that it is really low and that the lives of children are deeply impacted by the lack of adequate economic resources. The great hope is that the democratizing political changes and the subsequent lifting of economic sanctions will bring about real change in children’s lives.

The photos below show an example of life-style differences for two children from two different socioeconomic backgrounds. The boy on the left is hard at work in a bronze casting shop. He is creating the mold for a statue that will be cast in bronze. A boy of a similar age sits with his mother and sister in the front entrance of the shop. They are waiting to select a statue to purchase.


Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Bronze Casting

Many Burmese boys live as monks at some period of time in their lives. In the monastery, regardless of their socioeconomic status, they all live the same. More on that in the next post.

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mya Set Kyar Monastery.