Risking their lives, young eager children swim across the Moei River: the great river that ows northwards separating Myanmar (Burma) from Thailand. Each year new waves of child ghters enter Thailand to partake in the national sport - Muay Thai.
Many enter legally, but others take more questionable and dangerous routes, but all share the same reasons for this dif cult and lonely journey - to earn as much money as possible ghting in the stadiums in order to send it back home to their families. In one ght, these determined children can earn twice the adult daily minimum wage in their own country, Myanmar.
Back home, in Myanmar, over a 3rd of children are child labourers and the average annual income is less than £550, children earn a lot less. There are over 500,000 internally displaced people living in Myanmar.
So it is not surprising that there are over 100,000 refugees living along the Thai / Myanmar border and over 2.5 million people living illegally in Thailand as migrant workers.
The Thai Government are increasingly making it easier for Myanmar migrants
to get visas and to work in Thailand. But there are still many children living illegally in Thailand, in poverty and in need of care. Most of the Myanmar ghters have very little professional training, whereas their Thai opponents are often highly skilled. But they don’t give up! They breathe and live Muay Thai.
The images in this series depict the
lives of these children. They follow their journey as they enter into this lucrative but damaging new world. They depict the motivation, the training and their time spent in the ring. The pain of their chosen career and the deprivation contrasting with the glamour.