Gabriel Eh

The village where I was raised was surrounded by grasslands, hills and valleys. For generations my ancestors lived there peacefully, farming the fields and hunting in the forest. In 1998 the Burmese military attacked our village, burning it to the ground. We fled to the jungle for protection. The army buried landmines around our old village ensuring we would not return.

We built a new village about a days walk from the old one. Our new houses were built from the same materials as the old ones: bamboo and leaves. We do not build with metal or concrete. It was difficult to recreate a new village and there were many problems. Building a new education system was especially hard so those of us who could came to the refugee camp in Thailand to finish our schooling.

Sometimes foreigners ask me about my dreams for the future. I tell them that our situation is very difficult. We have no freedom in Burma or Thailand. When you have freedom you can have dreams for your own life. You can create goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Karen people have so few opportunities. We must work for freedom and democracy before we can dream for ourselves.