Zaw Min Paing squats in the dirt, his hands deftly cranking a spanner to unscrew the bolts on his motorbike. He works swiftly, efficiently and reasonably enthusiastically for someone who never wanted to be a mechanic.
He is 20 years old and would have finished school if not for the army recruiters who one day lured him away from his home with the promise of a way to earn money to support his struggling parents.
His father rides a trishaw, earning a couple of dollars by taking locals on short trips around town on his three-wheeled bike, while his mother gets up early to sell boiled beans to commuters.
"(The recruiters) tried to persuade me to join the army. At that time my family business was also very hard, so I am confused and I am following them," Zaw Min Paing said. He was 14.
Zaw Min Paing is one of an unknown number of Burmese children believed to be concealed within the ranks of Myanmar's military, known as the Tatmadaw.
Rights groups say many of the children have had their identification papers forged, and so far researchers have had limited access to verify their presence within units.
"I don't think anybody at this stage has got a clear number in their mind about how many underage recruits there are in the Tatmadaw, but the belief is it's considerably more than the number who have currently been discharged," said Steve Marshall, the International Labor Organization's Myanmar liaison officer.
Since the Myanmar government signed a U.N. pact in June 2012 to rid its forces of children, 176 have been freed.
The most recent release was in August 2013, when 68 children were allowed to leave, an occasion marked by a ceremony attended by senior military and social welfare officials.
It's likely many more remain in the military's ranks; some who are suffering in oppressed silence, others whose families are desperately seeking their release.
Recruiters target the vulnerable
CNN met Zaw Min Paing in Bogale, a small township four hours' drive south of Myanmar's former capital of Yangon, in the country's southern Irrawaddy region, an area once known as the "rice bowl" of the world.
Decades of military rule first destroyed the region's crops before Cyclone Nargis barreled through in May 2008, sweeping away homes, businesses and livelihoods. Around 140,000 people were killed across the country, many of those in the Irrawaddy region. Of all the townships, Bogale was one of the hardest hit.
As well as wiping out whole streets, the cyclone separated families, creating easy targets for recruiters who preyed on orphans and other vulnerable children whose identity papers had been washed away, Marshall said.
In recent years, the town has become less of a focus for recruiters who are active in a number of areas around the country, rights groups said, particularly in cities where they thrive on the anonymity of street children; the boys who won't be missed if they suddenly disappear.
'Please help me find my son'
Between nail-bitten fingers, Soe Paing, 39, holds a crumbled, laminated photo of his eldest son, Zaw Zaw Lin. The boy, then just 13 years old, stands with five other soldiers, all wearing Burmese military uniforms. He's carrying a gun.
"After Cyclone Nargis, I sent some of my children to the Rangoon (Yangon) monastery. After one year they live in the monastery, one disappeared, was missing," he said.
"I tried to contact the monastery -- they also don't know. Even I'm using the state newspaper -- I was advertising 'I've lost my son, please help me find my son, please contact me.' Nobody contacted me," he said.
It was two years before Soe Paing heard what happened to the eldest of his five children.
Law enforcement officers phoned him to say his son was in the army and allowed the two to speak. "My son told me 'I'm not happy I'm trying to escape from this army,'" Soe Paing said. The teenager said he had been recruited as he stood in the street, collecting food in an alms bowl from passersby.
Freed, but fears remain
Soe Paing contacted officials from the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, a local advocacy group working to free child soldiers. They lobbied for his son's release and 18 months later, he returned home.
Still just 16, Zaw Zaw Lin had served three-and-a-half years in the army. Now 19, his father says he's no longer the same boy. "Some of his attitudes and behaviors are very rude," he said.
Soe Paing not only fears for his son's future, but worries every time he steps out of the door.