Karen


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Wah Wah has never been out, apart from the one time she went with her late father to watch a movie in one of the shopping centres. That was 4 years ago.

Naw Wah Wah (not her real name) is 6 going on 7 this year. According to her mother, Wah Wah is “exactly like her late father“. “She likes to sing and dance, just like my husband. And when she asks me to cook, she will ask for things that my husband used to cook. My husband likes spicy food, and she likes spicy food as well.”

Wah Wah wants to be a nurse when she grows up, because, she says that “I pity sick people“. I am quite sure that watching her father slowly degenerate and die of TB over a period of 5 years must have left an impression on her.

I want to go to school to learn English. And after that, I want to complete my degree in nursing. I want to learn English because it is spoken worldwide.”

“And after that, what else do you want to do?”, I asked. I don’t want to do anything else. Nursing is enough for me“, she replied.

“And what do you like to do?”

“I like singing and dancing. Every Saturday and Sunday I will go find a television and watch Indian movies. I used to do this with my father“. And like any child her age, she “likes to play video games and games on the handphone“.

Do you have friends? “I have one Chinese friend“, she replies.  And she proudly holds her pet kitten Monkito up to her face so that I could take pictures of both of them.

Her mother explains that one of the women there knew about her daughter and introduced her to a Chinese family with a daughter her age. “They are very nice, they give her gifts, and their daughter likes ballet dancing just like my daughter. But their home is too far away and we are too afraid to go there often. She has no other friends her age because it is mostly men in this area. That is why she plays with dogs and cats“.

Wah Wah has never been out, apart from the one time she went with her late father to watch a movie in one of the shopping centres. That was 4 years ago, for her 2nd birthday.

 

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Saw Lay Doh Wah (not his real name) died last year in Malaysia from TB. He was 55. He died in a small wooden hut that he lived with together with his wife and baby daughter. Here is Saw Lay, in his wife’s words.

I met Saw Lay at the water festival. I was singing there and he wrote some songs. I knew the moment I saw him. He wasn’t as handsome as the other guys but I saw his heart. But he was too shy to say that he loved me. So I asked him straight, “Do you love me? If you do then you’d better tell my parents before it’s too late!” So he did!”

He likes spicy food. And he loved to go see the movies. Back in Myanmar, we would go to the theater to see movies every weekend. It didn’t matter if the movies were Chinese or Indian. He loved them all. My husband is a very artistic man. He used to write songs back in Myanmar.”

I never had any quarrels with my husband in my life. He would never complain, no matter if he had no penny. He always tried to make life happy. He wanted to live life with his family no matter where. When I worry about our future, my husband would calm me down. He would tell me to survive, whether rich or poor.”

Even when he was sick, he would always try to help. He would go into the jungle to pick vegetables and cook for the family. He would wash clothes. He would take care of our baby daughter. Once I had a job carrying water and I accidently hit him in the head with the yoke one day. I really didn’t mean to hit him, but he just said ouch and didn’t complain!

Later, when he got sicker, he couldn’t go out. But still he would sing and make jokes and tell stories to my baby daughter. I would come back from work and I would hear singing and talking from the house.”

Even though we had no job and no money, we cooked together, and we enjoyed being together as a family. That was the happiest time of my life in Malaysia.”

Saw Lay, you are sorely missed by your family.

 

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Naw Lwe Wah (not her real name), a 42 year old Karen mother, has been living in Malaysia for 10 years. Her husband, a government official back in their village, fled Myanmar 5 years earlier to Malaysia because he was involved in the pro-democracy movement and was in danger of being prosecuted. What is special is that Lwe Wah is unlike many other refugees who go from place to place in search of employment or safety. With her family, she has been staying in one single place all these years – a small wooden hut constructed out of pieces of discarded plywood and planks and roofed with zinc. A house that had no running water or electricity. They moved houses once, from a nearby area that was “always damp and full of snakes” to this one behind a factory in the outskirts of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Lwe Wah can count on one hand the number of times she has been out of this area. We went out to watch movies once when my youngest daughter (now 7) was about 2 years old because she was complaining and wanted to go out“. And she went to a hospital to deliver this very daughter. But apart from that, Lwe Wah who is registered with the UNCHR as a refugee and has to a card to prove it, is too afraid to go out. They are many policemen and they stop us and ask for money“, Lwe Wah says. I hear RELA does not care if you have a UNHCR card or not – they will arrest you anyways.”

Her fears are not unfounded. Her husband fell ill with TB. He fought his illness for 5 long years before he finally succumbed to it last year. At first, we thought it was nothing, just normal sickness. But he got worse. We wanted to go to a clinic to get medicine, but on the way the police stopped us and took all our money – the money we had for the clinic.” At this point Lwe Wah started to weep, thinking about how her husband might have been saved, might still be alive today, had they reached medical help.

She still remembers that day clearly. (more…)

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HERE is my beautiful Story……..

I’m Saw  Ler Moo (not his real name) Karen ethnic and Christian , both of my parents were also ethnic , my mother was Karen . My Father was a Buddhist and my mother was a Christian. All of my 4 siblings are Christians as well.

My mother was a gazetted Nurse, recognized by the British Nursing Board of England at that time. But she was sacked by the Authorities after our Independence a few years later. My Father continued in his position as Government Servant till he retired.

After I passed my Matriculation, I joined the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science which normally takes 7 years. When I was in Final Part of One, all civilians staged anti Government protests following the Nation wide Pro-democracy uprising, which took place on 8th of August 1988. I was still studying at that time and we students gathered and founded student Organizations in each respective University.

We all came back home because all the Universities and Schools were forced to close. Then, I gathered again with students from Universities all over our Country at Rangoon General Hospital, in Rangoon. Later, I was elected as Representative of my Institute and kept on organizing with others to achieve true Democracy.

Since then the Military government has been trying to arrest especially University and College Students who have been involving in such Activities day and night. Whoever was arrested and sent to special places couldn’t be as normal as those who were lucky to get back home. They used so many kinds of torture, abusive acts, cruel Interrogation enough to lead a person to ruin.

One evening, the Military Intelligent personnel came to me and brought me to their place for Investigation. There were many youngsters, probably College and University Students and they locked me in together with them. They commanded us to do Squat Position naked and placed with a burning candle just above our anus every night. (more…)