Dihlaing Oo



36, from Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar

A journey so hard to come back from

Nine years ago, Dihlaing embarked on a journey he believed was the start of a new and better life. Through a broker, he left his hometown of Sittwe in Rakhine State, Myanmar, for Ranong province, Thailand. He had no paperwork, only the feeling of adventure and opportunity.

Dihlaing’s feelings of hope were soon gone as he realized his life was in the hands of the broker.

The broker organized for him to be taken onto a fishing boat, as he was told he could never get off, and never return home. Everything he had hoped for came to nothing. He was treated inhumanely, he was not paid, and he was helpless at the hands of his boss.

Dihlaing felt like his soul drowned in the sea. For years, he did not even set eyes on land.

Taking the shortcut through the broker, with no paperwork, had led him nowhere but lost at sea. There was no-one to help.

Dihlaing’s situation went from bad to worse. The broker tried to sell him to another larger fishing boat, with even harsher working conditions. By this time, Dihlaing was addicted to the drugs that the broker had supplied him so that he could be controlled. These affected him so badly that he was no longer able to work as a fisherman.

He ended up one day unconscious lying in the middle of the road where the Diocesan Social Action Center (DISAC), a partner with USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons project, was contacted to assist him. DISAC provides support and assistance to migrant workers and members of other vulnerable groups living in Phuket.

DISAC staff helped him into a safehouse. Along with other migrant fishermen, Dihlaing had been rescued and saved from a life as a drug addict. It was now time for him to go home, and DISAC was able to help arrange his return to Myanmar.

Today, Dihlaing is living in Myanmar and knows how lucky he was to have been rescued. While he survived his ordeal, the trauma will last a lifetime.

Photo by Luke Duggleby

Win Win San


Win Win San