A 16-year-old Kachin girl:
In Malaysia, the broker sent me to a Malay restaurant. “There were 5 other males. I was the only female. I worked from 7 in the morning till 11 at night, washing plates and cleaning up. They didn’t pay me any money apart from some pocket money once in a while”.
“One day, when the boss was away, one of the male workers tried to hug and kiss me. I screamed but he told me not to scream. The other workers heard my scream and came to my assistance. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was shivering with fear”.
Fortunately, she had made friends with a Myanmarese who delivers vegetables to her restaurant and told him what happened to her the night before. This man took pity on her and told her to meet him later and so she ran away with him. He brought her to the UNHCR office, and they in turn contacted her organisation.
That was 10 days ago. Her future remains uncertain. I asked how she is finding life at the moment. For a long time she thinks.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t have any documents. I can’t work. I can’t go out. I am afraid all the time”.
A 42-year-old Kachin woman:
“It is most difficult when the children get sick” she said.
“When the children get sick, I usually have to borrow money from the other families. My elder child has asthma, and each treatment costs RM100. Each visit to the clinic would cost RM50. We just don’t have the money. The UNHCR told us to go to the free clinics provided by NGOs, but I don’t even have money for the taxi.”
“If my husband is sick for even one day and cannot go to work, then there is big problem. Life becomes very difficult. The worst is when I have borrowed money from the other families for my son’s medical fees, and then their children get sick. What do I do?”.