Young Catholic Migrants Work under the Church’s Care

Catholic Youth from Myanmar work as migrant workers under the Church’s care in Thailand particularly in Ratchaburi and Surat Thani. Over 400 young migrants from the Dioceses of Pathein, Yangon, Loikaw and Phekon are working at the pineapple factories by staying in the mission camps under the care of Catholic Diocesan priest and sisters of St. Francis Xavier’s Congregation.  The mission camps located in the Dioceses of Ratchaburi and Surat Thani.

Bishops of the Dioceses of Pathein, Yangon, Loikaw and Phekon made joint agreement with Bishop Bosco Panya of Ratchaburi and Bishop Joseph Prahtan of Surat Thani for apostolic ministries to young migrants who from Myanmar are working in Thailand. With their own consent and the agreement of their parents youths from the Diocese of Pathein were accompanied by Fr. Gilbert Sune Sune, Diocesan Youth Director, throughout the journey and sent to Thailand. Fr. Justin Aung Lwin, Sr. Marcel, Sr. Margaret and Sr. Stella who from Myanmar are assigned as Chaplains at the mission camps. They have been taking care of them spiritually and physically.

In a video interview some young migrants introduced themselves as the following. I am Mr. John Hsane Hgyi and live in Chanthargone parish of the Diocese of Pathein. My name is Ms. May Hnin Wai and live in Pauksinbe parish of the Diocese of Pathein. My name is Mr. Benedict Htay Aung and live in Goepinkok parish of the Diocese of Yangon. My name is Ms. Zin May Khain and live in Ywarthit Kone parish of the Diocese of Pathein. My name is called Mr. De Ral from the Diocese of Loikaw. My name is Ms. Paulina from the Diocese of Loikaw. My name is Ms. Ester from the Diocese of Phekon.

They were interviewed, “Why did you decide to work at Takerng in Ratchaburi, Thailand. De Ral said, “The reason why I decided to come and work here is with this consideration that it will be a good situation to support my family and for my future by working in Thailand.” Paulina said, “For me there is spiritual welfare here, and my parents have more peace of mind while I am working here because they know that this compound is under the care of priest and sisters.” Ester said, “As for me if I will work outside in my own way, my parents will not allow me to come and work here, Thailand. But they allowed me to work here due to the care of priest and sisters. I am also happy to stay and work here.”

What are the difficulties in your workplace? John Hsane Hgyi answered, “There are many difficulties. After having arrived here, I did not get any job for three months. But I got job after having waited for three months. Although I got job, I was not so convenient and not happy at the workplace. Another difficulty is language problem. We cannot speak and understand the local language. At first I was not convenient with the work but later I was alright with it.”

Myu Hnin Wai said, “As for me I got job as soon as I arrived here. But I got physical pain when I started working, and I did not understand their language. And then I was scolded by Thai foreman. That was my difficulty. Benedict Htay Aung said, “I did not understand Shan language and the procedure of work when I started working. This is a difficulty for me. But later I can work well anyhow.”

In a video interview with the sister, she introduced herself, “my name is Sr. Margaret Eh Phaw from Pinle parish of the Diocese of Pathein. I am assigned at St. John Paul’s mission camp in the Diocese of Ratchaburi. I have been here for four years already. Bishop from Ratchaburi invited us, Sisters, to take care of Myanmar migrant workers who are working in his diocese for their spiritual welfare. But when I arrived here, I had to take not only spiritual but also physical cares for them. And I also have to guide, discipline them for spirituality, morality, finance management and money transfer to their family in their hometowns, and I have to be their accountant for their income and expenditure. Sometimes we have to help them by consulting with the factory manager whenever they have problem at the pineapple factories.”

In the article about Youth and migration: Youth Issue Briefs 2016, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs stated, “In 2013, 12 per cent of the total migrant population (28.2 million people) are young migrants (aged 15 to 24). Of international migrants 10.2 per cent in developed countries, 14.9 per cent in developing countries, and 20.9 per cent of those in least-developed countries were youth.”

It added, “In developed countries young women made up 48.9 per cent of young migrants; and 43 per cent of young migrants in developing countries. 27 million young people leave their countries of birth to seek employment abroad as international migrants (ILO). Key drivers of youth migration include employment, education, marriage, and escape from poverty, violence, conflict and environmental change.”

FR. Raymond K. Aung