It is quite literally back breaking work. Each load of rocks weighs more than 100 kilos.
32 yr old Mama-eh and the other women working here are part of China’s booming manual labour force. Yet they earn just over 1 dollar a day. Poorly educated with 2 children to feed, Mama-eh says she has few other choices.
We cannot afford to send our children to school so we need to work.
With so few options, many choose to leave this picturesque countryside in search of a more prosperous life elsewhere. But not everyone wants to migrate. 25 yr old Long Jin Mae lives in the small village of Taiping where over half the population is female. She’s been here 10 years and she’s staying.
Long Jin Mae
Because my son was born several yrs ago, I like to stay at home and raise pigs or some other things for our family and try to contribute to our family’s development here.
The International Labour Organization’s Mekong Project to Combat Trafficking is supporting a women’s center here. Among other things, they learn about safe migration and the threat of trafficking.
Not far away in Guaoching, another program has changed the way teachers and students interact. The students are much more active and the anti-trafficking component is correcting misperceptions that traffickers target only male children.
I think a trafficker is somebody that will cheat another person to go to another place for the purpose of marriage or recruitment. At the other place there will be nobody there to help and it will be very hard for that person to be rescued from the trafficker.
As economies continue to shift focus, so too will patterns of migration. That doesn’t mean the end of rural communities, but it does require the sustained attention of everyone in order to prevent human trafficking in one of China’s most beautiful provinces.