Very few people in Myanmar have been working over the past six months. Poverty is on the rise — now so much so that even the rich are beginning to feel their losses. How much more those who were already impoverished before the coup? How much more the impoverished wife whose husband is arrested or dead, and is now left to fend for herself and her children?
This is the story of many of Myanmar’s poorest mothers. Their methods of getting income, or getting by without it, vary. Some have resorted to feeding their children grass just to keep their bellies full. Some collect empty cans and bottles, selling them to get a little more rice. Some bring their kids to work alongside them, picking chilis under a burning sun. Others decide to sell their hair, and still others go into sex work as a form of survival sex.
To women in Myanmar, having long, beautiful hair is a point of pride, but in their need they decide to sell their hair to wig-making companies in China. All of their hair is cut off, shorn close to the scalp, so they have very little hair left. In return, women with beautiful hair, sometimes a yard long, receive $10. After they have sold their hair, one ministry worker in country told us they often sit together and cry bitterly.
Women who go into the sex industry receive a mere $5 to $10 to sleep with a man. Many of these women going into the industry are middle-aged women who have found no other means of income to provide for themselves and their children.
As we listen to the stories of mothers caring for their children, shame continues to play a large role in their struggles. They often feel shame at their struggle to provide and care for their families. They often feel shame in having to walk through their neighborhoods and markets with their hair nearly all cut off. They often feel shame for having sex with different men in order to make a living. They often feel shame because their children cry at work when their hands burn and their eyes sting. They often feel shame when they take loans from gangsters, then are unable to pay back debts with such steep interest rates.
But praise be to God, some of these women have met the Lord. Small church-like cell groups are cropping up all over their neighborhoods. Groups of men, of women, of ex-gangsters, of women who have sold their hair, of sex workers, and all manner of people are coming together to follow the Lord!
Now these women gather together to learn about the Lord and testify to His power and hope in their lives, week by week. Praise the Lord!
1. Pray for the Lord to remove their shame, lift their heads up, and give them joy in double portion.
2. Pray that these women worship and love God, and trust Him with everything. Pray that He richly provides for their every need.