Hollywood superstar Jackie Chan arrived on Thursday afternoon in Mandalay, the second largest city in Burma, where he will visit a rehabilitation center and other shelters where trafficked and street children and orphans stay, according to local sources.
After landing at Mandalay Airport around 4:40 pm, Chan’s convoy went directly to a monastery in Mandalay where he was scheduled to meet children. It is the first time the Hong Kong-born actor has visited Burma. Acting as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, Chan will spend three days in the country where he will attend projects set up by the UN agency to support trafficked, traumatized and distressed children. He also plans to meet with officials of the Social Welfare Ministry and members of the Myanmar Police Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Mandalay.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in 2002 that there could be as many as 70,000 child soldiers within the Burmese army. Youngsters are often kidnapped on their way home from school, said the HRW. Ethnic rebels in Burma are also accused of using child soldiers.
Lawyer Aye Myint, a leading labor activist in Pegu who works on child soldier cases, said that about 10,000 children have been released under his project over the past five to six years with the help of the International Labor Organization. About 100 cases, however, remained outstanding in 2011, he added.
In addition to acting and working as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, the Hollywood star formed the Jackie Chan Charitable Organization in 1998, which, among other projects, offers scholarships to Hong Kong youths.
Local sources said that many Mandalay residents are excited to meet and greet the Chinese superstar who is renowned as a martial arts expert, stuntman, actor and director. Mandalay is home to many thousands of Chinese.