The Market Project in Southeast Asia

Dorothy Taft travels to Yangon, Myanmar, meeting with trauma care organizations, advocates working to end the exploitation of men and women, potential workshop partners, and training institutions.

Known to many as Burma, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is situated on the eastern side of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea and is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, Thailand, and China.

In February, Dorothy traveled to the capital city, Yangon. She met with various organizations, local businesses, representatives from the US Embassy, among others in order to lay the foundations of what we hope will become a business endeavor sponsored by The Market Project.

Myanmar is a country of approximately 51 million people, and most are Theravada Buddhists. Most are ethnically Burmese however Shan, Karen, and Rakhine are among the many minority groups. A military dictatorship ruled the country until it formally ended in 2011, giving way to a fledgling democracy. Although Myanmar is currently the chair of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Myanmar has been embroiled in one of the world’s longest running civil wars, has one of the world’s largest income gaps, and ranks merely 150 out of 187 on the human development index.

The Market Project’s intention is to meet the needs of a group for whom official statistics do not exist. Countless numbers of boys, girls, women, and men are subject to sexual exploitation and violence. Numerous others are forced into labor, sequestered into refugee camps, or marginalized on the edges of society. Our goal is to explore and develop a safe and trauma-informed place of employment and through meaningful employment, help traumatized victims break the cycle of oppression.

Throughout her time in Myanmar, Dorothy had the opportunity to meet with individuals from several organizations, potential workshop partners, and other institutions. One of those meetings was with representatives from a large international NGO. The conversation confirmed that The Market Project’s work-as-healing model will help fill in a huge gap in already vibrant work rescuing and rehabilitating victims of human trafficking.

Dorothy was also able to identify a potential business partner that is interested in providing local support for a TMP enterprise. She also met with those who work for several preexisting social enterprises, first response, and care organizations that are already doing important work to reintegrate survivors of sex trafficking. We believe The Market Project will not only be able to partner with these organizations to be more effective in breaking the cycle of oppression, but we will also be able to learn valuable practical information from those who have already been working in Myanmar.

We are very hopeful and excited for the day when we can join hands with those already doing groundbreaking humanitarian work in Myanmar. Dorothy’s trip not only sowed the seeds for a fruitful enterprise, but we were also able to determine what is already being done well and how we can fit into the bigger picture in Yangon.

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