Seng Ja (not her real name), a 34 year old woman is Kachin, but married a Zomi. This is why the Zomi Association accepted her. She is one of a handful of women living in a jungle camp in Malaysia organised by the Zomi Association.
“We were living in Shan State. My husband was forced to be a porter for the military. He got back home safe, but soon after he fell sick and died. After he died, one day, his friends came and asked if they could spend the night. I recognised them – they were his schoolmates, so I said yes. The next morning they left early, about 4 o’clock in the morning. At 6 o’clock, some soldiers came looking for me at my house. I was at the well taking water. They didn’t know I was the one they were looking for. They told my neighbours that some rebels stayed at my house. I ran.”
Seng Ja asked her parents to take care of her children and ran to another village far away, staying with friends. For 7 months Seng Ja stayed there but she was constantly in fear because people from her village traded with this other village and so there was always people from her village there. She was afraid she would be found out.
Seng Ja knew a trader who traded clothes in Thailand and Malaysia, and so asked if she could follow. She didn’t have any money and so agreed to help carry clothes in return for her passage. In Malaysia she met someone from Myanmar who told her about the Zomi Association. They sent her to this jungle camp.
Everyday she helps with the cooking. She has been living in the jungle for 8 months.