Preparing to move

MigrationYoung people

Footsteps 109 - Youth

Footsteps 109 celebrates the energy and creativity of young people and discusses how to provide the support they need to flourish.

Preparing to move

There are many reasons why young people choose to migrate. If they are well prepared, they are more likely to have a positive experience. This will benefit them, their families and their host communities. If they are not well prepared, they will be more vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.


Migration is the movement of people from one place to another. Migration can be internal (movement within a country, often from rural to urban areas) or international (movement between different countries). 

Things that push people to migrate include drought, famine, lack of jobs, over-population, war and persecution. Things that pull people towards a certain place include job opportunities, better education, freedom and family links.


Talking cube

Use this activity to help young people think through different aspects of migration, including opportunities and risks. 

Plan of box. Illustration: Wingfinger

1. Prepare the cube 

  • Draw a bigger version of the shape above onto a piece of paper or cardboard, and cut it out.
  • Using the local language, write the following questions onto the sides (one per side): 
    • Why migrate? 
    • What will you leave behind? 
    • How should you prepare? 
    • How will you keep in contact? 
    • What opportunities might there be? 
    • What risks might there be? 
  • Fold along the dotted lines. 
  • Put glue on the tabs. 
  • Form into a cube and leave to dry. 

2. Carry out the activity 

Arrange a meeting with young people in the community. This could be organised through the local school, church or youth club. 

Ask the group to imagine that they are about to leave for the capital city. The first person rolls the cube and reads out the question on the side facing upwards. They then answer that question. Each person takes it in turn to roll the cube until every question has been answered at least once. 

The purpose of this exercise is not to have the ‘right’ answers, but rather to help the group think carefully about what needs to be considered before migrating. 

Ask further questions to encourage more discussion. Avoid telling the group your ideas, but encourage them to think for themselves. 

Questions could include: 

  • Where will you stay? 
  • Who might you meet? 
  • What documents will you need? 
  • How will you keep yourself and your belongings safe? 
  • What kind of work will you do? 
  • How will you know who you can trust as you prepare to leave (eg people who are helping you travel) and on your journey (eg at borders)? 
  • How will you know who to trust after arriving at your destination? 
  • How do you think life will be different in the new place? 

3. Next steps 

Consider inviting people with experience of migration to talk to the group. If possible, invite one person who had a positive experience and one person who had difficulties, so the group hears two different views. 

Think about what to do next. Is there anything more the community can do to prepare young people for migration? 


Talking cube adapted from Tearfund’s Reveal toolkit ‘Exploring the risks and opportunities of migration’. To download, visit www.learn.tearfund.org and search for ‘talking cube’. Alternatively, email publications@tearfund.org or write to Footsteps Editor, 100 Church Road, Teddington, TW11 8QE, UK.


Staying safe

Rani’s story

Sixteen-year-old Rani dropped out of school to help raise her five younger siblings. She dreamed of a better future, and she was determined to get out of her current situation. 

Her friend and neighbour offered to take her to Delhi, saying she would earn 10,000 rupees (145 USD) a month. Her parents did not agree, so she left home in the middle of the night and ran away with her friend. 

Rani had no identity or travel documents, and she had never been out of her village. After a long journey she found herself in a small, dark room in Delhi. She then faced the worst horror of her life. For two days she was exploited sexually and physically by her ‘owner’ and his friends. 

She was then handed over to a family who told her to take care of their two children. She was not allowed to leave the house. 

At the end of the month she asked for payment. She was told that her wage had been paid to her friend, and she would have to work for six months before receiving any money. She was never paid.  

When Rani was rescued and returned to her parents several years later, she still did not really understand that she had been a victim of trafficking. She is now receiving support to rebuild her life. 

Human trafficking 

Human trafficking is the transportation or abduction of people for the purposes of exploitation, using coercion, fraud or deception. Like Rani, most victims are trafficked within their country or region of origin, and their exploiters are often fellow citizens. 

Use this story to help young people understand some of the risks that they or their friends might face. 

Discussion questions 

  • If someone in your community was being trafficked or exploited, would you know about it? What are the signs? (Visit the website www.stopthetraffik.org for more information.) 
  • If you suspected someone was being trafficked, what would you do? 
  • Do you think people in your community know enough about trafficking? If not, how can you increase their knowledge and understanding? 

Footsteps 96 contains a lot of information about human trafficking, including a poster about the lies that traffickers tell. 


Couple waving goodbye to their daughter. Illustration: Wingfinger
Illustration: Wingfinger

Many young people in Myanmar migrate to China for work. To support them, some of the churches in Myanmar have formed links with churches in China. The young people are given phone cards with the contact details of Christians in China who help them find a safe place to stay. In the past, some of the young people signed work contracts without understanding what they meant. Now the churches in China are able to introduce them to good employers with safe work.

Dr Pratibha Singh
Dr Pratibha Singh is Director of Community Health and Development at Emmanuel Hospital Association, India. pratibha@eha-health.org www.eha-health.org