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In this Sept. 11, 2013 photo, a Muslim boy stands close to a barbed wire fence on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Children are the biggest victims of policies that for decades have systematically discriminated against Rohingya Muslims. With little or no food security, poverty-stricken families often put kids to work instead of sending them to school. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Rohingya kids in Myanmar: Hard labor, bleak lives

The 10-year-old struggles up the hill, carrying buckets filled with rocks. Though he tries to keep a brave face in front of his friends, his eyes brim with tears. Every inch of his body aches, he says, and he feels sick and dizzy from the weight.

"I hate it," whispers Anwar Sardad. He has to help support his family, but he wishes there was a way other than working for the government construction agency.

He adds, "I wouldn't have to live this life if I wasn't a Muslim."

The lives of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children like Anwar are growing more hopeless in Myanmar, even as the predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million wins praise for ending decades of dictatorship.

This story is part of "Portraits of Change," a yearlong series by The Associated Press examining how the opening of Myanmar after decades of military rule is — and is not — changing life in the long-isolated Southeast Asian country.