In July 1992, FXB was running a programme in Thailand that specifically helped very young prostitutes rescued from Thai brothels. One day, FXB received a call asking for help for girls working on the border between Thailand and Burma. These young women were victims of sexual slavery and were beaten, malnourished and repeatedly exposed to HIV and AIDS.
Albina du Boisrouvray immediately alerted Saisuree Chutikul, an advisor to the Thai Prime Minister responsible for women’s issues and child safety. The police carried out a raid and freed 153 young girls, including 95 young Burmese girls. Aged between 14 – 20 years old, 50% of them were HIV positive. They were sent back to their home country a few months later.
At the time, the Thai media reported that the HIV+ prostitutes who had been repatriated from Thailand had been executed on their return to Myanmar. In response to this, FXB carried out an enquiry and Albina du Boisrouvray went to Myanmar in 1993 to find out the truth. During her first mission, FXB proposed several HIV / AIDS information, training and prevention initiatives which received the backing of the Ministry of Health. Albina’s second mission aimed to identify and talk to the 95 repatriated young women, with no witnesses apart from an independent interpreter and a French doctor, Dr Daniel Tarantola, the Director of the International AIDS Programme at the FXB Centre for Health and Human Rights in Harvard. The young women spoke of their terrible living conditions in Thailand and of the good treatment that they had received on their return to Myanmar.
In September 1993, FXB launched a pilot project for these young women, offering individualised reintegration depending on each individual’s aspirations and skills (they had received little formal education because they had been involved in human trafficking from a very young age). The project also helped the girls find apprenticeships (dressmaker, embroiderer, secretary, hairdresser and chef) or start a small-scale business, offering some assistance and basic commercial training on accounts and saving.
Since independence, Myanmar has experienced one of the world’s longest-running unresolved civil wars. Despite a wealth of jade and gems, oil and natural gas, lack of development has meant that the country is yet to achieve its economic potential.
Some of the crucial development goals that need to be achieved in order to realise growth in Myanmar include:
- Favorable growth for the most vulnerable populations in order to fight against the increasing economic disparities and strengthen their capacity
- Need to strengthen the supply of social service, still highly deficient, through practical and sustainable socio-economic actions
- Requirement to meet the deepest needs of people in education, especially in the context of vocational training
- Need to protect people from the consequences of climate change
- Imperative investment in infrastructure
Our areas of focus
Deep poverty, AIDS, and trafficking contribute to a precarious situation for many children and adolescents who face risks of forced labour, sexual exploitation, drug use, and HIV infection. FXB has developed programs for education, professional training and incoming generating activities (IGA), organised far-reaching HIV/AIDS and human-trafficking awareness and prevention campaigns, and undertaken emergency and reconstruction operations following floods and cyclone Nargis.
The objective of the FXB vocational training and life skills program is to bring education, opportunity, and self-sufficiency to young people living in Myanmar and at-risk for HIV and human trafficking. Over a three-year timeframe, FXB provides intensive vocational training sessions to 250 students in a chosen field, including weaving, tailoring, interior decoration, furniture making, and metal and wood work.
In addition to vocational training, participants also attend regular sessions to increase their awareness of HIV prevention, human trafficking, exploitation, reproductive health and sexuality, and health and personal hygiene. Throughout the program they are taught critical skills including literacy and writing, financial and household management, nutrition, and community engagement in order to build a foundation for long-term stability and independence.
Those on the program include out-of-school youth, street children, young people and children working in or at risk of exploitative circumstances, and young people affected by AIDS, most of whom are women.
Participants receive a monthly allowance to cover basic expenses and a daily meal at the training centres. After completion of training, FXB facilitates apprenticeships and network programmes for participants to help ensure employment and financial stability. As a result of the program, formerly at-risk youth gain valuable skills in health, finance, and personal management, in addition to a sustainable marketable skill, improving their income by approximately 6 to 10 times than they would have hoped to earn otherwise.
FXB has also developed an innovative mobile professional training course, to serve young people from communities in the most remote regions. As well as individual and group income-generating activities (IGA) for 1,200 people in the areas of agriculture, livestock, grocery and small-scale food service, garment making and fishing.
In Rangoon, the FXB Showroom, a cooperative sells tapestries, curtains, furniture, clothes and toys to tourists, expats, hotels and other local businesses. These high-quality items are made by 40 former apprentices who actively participate in management and decision-making for this small business. The profit is used to pay these 40 workers and to pay for the materials but also to provide a small allowance for the apprentices in the various locations where FXB offers its professional training programs.
In the healthcare field, FXB runs programs for psychosocial support and access to antiretroviral for more than 6,000 people throughout the country, in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Through its work, FXB has reached more than 100,000 beneficiaries directly and more than 500,000 indirectly.
In addition, FXB provides four types of health care services: traditional institutional-based (the government hospitals), community-based mobile teams (medical teams by cars), community-based home-based care, and peer-to-peer counselling.
It offers women psychosocial support and various courses on “social” topics in ‘Women- Friendly spaces’ – including gender equality, domestic violence and human trafficking, on “health” topics – including reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, hygiene, water and decontamination and on “economic” topics – including financial management and micro loans.
To build a social network among People living with HIV/AIDS and their affected members, FXB hosts an Empowerment Group every Sunday, 300 people in several groups called “Empowerment Sunday.”
Our future plans
- Introduce the FXBVillage model
- Continue and expand of the FXB professional vocational training programs currently on offer