UNSEEN MAE LA An innovative arts project for Karen refugees from Burma to describe their lives through photography.
I was just a few months old when Burmese soldiers first attacked my village. My parents put me in a rattan basket carrying me on their backs as they fled. Later we heard that the soldiers destroyed our home and burnt our village to the ground. My family built a new home in a new village where we lived peacefully until I was 17 years old. That year the soldiers came again. This time when we fled to the jungle we stayed there for a month. It was difficult living in the jungle because we did not have any shelter, cooking supplies or protection from malaria and other diseases. When it was safe we returned to the ruins of our village to rebuild.
Unfortunately we were not able to build a new school and I could not continue my education in the village. I came to Thailand where I could finish my primary education in the refugee camp. After I graduated I attended the Further Study Program, the refugee camp’s version of college. I then returned to Karen State to teach. I found a good job in a large school with 130 students and 13 teachers.
In 2007, Burmese soldiers came again. When it was safe I returned to Thailand for the last time. I am now 29 years old. I live in the refugee camp and spend my time playing soccer.