Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Burmese

Hello again,

So i've migrated a lil west of where I was. I'm now located in Mae Sot, Thailand. If you look on the left hand side of the map, you'll see Mae Sot is located just on the Burma border, but still in Thailand. There isn't much Thailand about this town, actually the population is 70 % Burmese, and 20% Thailand,  and the 10 % I dunno, stray dogs. This border town is mainly a refugee for Burmese fleeing from the military ('junta') run country of Burma. Now I wasn't too aware of the Burmese conflict that has been going on for soemthing like 40 years now, just as I imagine most of Americans aren't aware of it. But the junta government has consistenly been abusing human and civil rights in their country. Killing Burmese in their own village, causing them to flee, guilty of murder, rape, and violation. It isn't a pretty picture, much like Colombia before or even the Egyptian and Tunisian affairs right now. A country on the brink of civil war. Well i'm not the most of current affairs, but i can tell you what I've seen here and what i've heard.

What that all means for Thailand is Refugees. Mae Sot alone has 2 very large refugee camps here. Full of Burmese tribal people forced to flee their country, but Thailand won't recognize many of their rights and they can't really leave the camp. The others that are here in Mae Sot, not in a refugee camp are here illegally. Strange thing is the Thai police know that 70% they are dealing with Burmese, and don't even speak Thai, but it is in a way 'accepted' just looked over. So what that creates is a very interesting town full of Burmese food, culture, and people. A more conservative culture than Thailand. 
That also means there needs to be education and some employement in places like factories. If they don't create some kind of situation for them, they end on the trashy sid eof things. Literally. A few days ago, I took a trip with a friend I have met here. We took a bike ride out to the 'Rubbage dump.' I've never been to a trash dump, only just seem from afar or saw in pics in school or on a news real. But this wasn't a news reel, when I arrived, I saw something quite shocking to say the least. Karen people, a tribe of Burma, are living in and around the rubbage dump. They live on top of, next to, or below the huge mountain of trash. Their reason, to collect plastic that gets disposed there. Once collected a Kilo of plastic, they can collect from the recycling plant 3 Baht ~ about 9 cents. 
Collecting trash. I've never seen so many flies in my life, or wanted to hurl at the smell. 
It was a sad sight to see and one of the more uncomfortably surreal things i've ever seen. I still haven't quite digested it. 

But in my attempts to help the situation here, I was able to track down a volunteer position. I'm volunteering for 2 weeks (as long as my visa will allow for now) at the MeeMaHaw Post 10 school for Burmese Refugees. I'm teaching English reading and grammar to a handful of kids. I've only just started this week, but I hope that somehow it will help this whole depressing situation. This is the foot in for a Burmese person being able to apply for a Thai University to continue studying English. This is an intensive preparation course for them. They are very sweet and always smiling. A large portion of them older than me, but still manage to be young at heart and easy to laugh. They make me smile and laugh too. Which I guess is all either of us can as for. I will certainly be a meaningful purpose. 

Not to mention, Mae Sot is full of volunteers and informative events and things on Burma and the situation. So in keeping my eyes, ears mind and heart open- maybe I"ll be able to grasp something on why things like this happen in the world.


  1. you are truely a great person and very proud of you

  2. Thanks Ger.
    Hope all is well back in beautiful Cali.

  3. Hey, that is great about the volunteer. It is so sad about the trash heap. In Venezula we met a christian couple that were going to try and save the rubbish kids, or the orphans that lived in the dump. so sad but a fairly common thin.
    Look forward to reading more


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