Mekong Youth Net
The Mekong Sub-region, which comprises of Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, the southern Yunnan province of China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam; is well known for its human trafficking networks. Each year thousands of women and girls, many from ethnic minorities, are trafficked from these countries. Thailand has become the gateway or “receiving country” for many of these women.
These victims are either lured or forced into trafficking due to poverty, lack of education or the absence of proper citizenship. The goal of the Mekong Youth Net (MYN) programme is to train youth leaders to combat human trafficking across the Mekong region.
There are several basic problems in the communities where human trafficking victims come from which make them more vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation.
Poverty: family members do not own land, are unemployed, have little income or are debt.
Insufficient education: there are no schools, teachers or opportunities to access basic primary education leaving many children naïve and illiterate.
Undocumented migrants: many have crossed the border irregularly or have no documents or certificates hence leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.
- To create a group of youth leaders to network against human trafficking in the Mekong Sub-region.
- To educate potential leaders on how to start a prevention programme at the community level in their own countries.
- To form a link between individuals, NGOs and GOs for future collaboration and support.
- To share the experience and knowledge of DEPDC/GMS with others.
- To support the star of a children and women’s rights protection centre covering the entire Mekong Sub-region.
The following subjects are covered during the MYN training programme:
- Introduction to the Mekong Region – politics, social problems, changes etc.
- Cultural Studies – language, ethnic culture and hill tribes of the region
- Social problems – study specific social problems facing the indigenous people such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, education etc.
- International issues – human rights, trafficking, illegal drugs etc.
- Research skills – basic research methodology and report writing
- Management training – team building, organizational development, office work and administration
- Sociology – women’s studies, hill tribe family studies, family planning etc.
The MYN programme ran from 2004 to 2009. 96 youth leaders were trained and grassroots projects started throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region. In 2010, the Mekong Youth Union (MYU) was formed as an umbrella organisation for all MYN country projects. At the DEPDC/GMS headquarters in Mae Sai, the Mekong Youth Union Training Centre (MYUTC) was established. It runs the MYN’s media projects, such as the MYN YouTube channel (Child Voice TV), Child Voice Radio, the Child Voice newspaper and more.