Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
This is the wife of the man in the tattered shirt in the post about Chronic IDPs. I interviewed them and asked them from what village they came, they said they had no village. We went round and round trying to find out what their old village was called until we understood they had grown up, married and started a family never having a permanent home or village. They live in temporary shelters and flee whenever the Burma Army gets too close. This woman's expression says it all.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
This is the older sister of the boy in the previous post. She also had malaria, she however looked as if she was going to make it. She still had strength enough to refuse medicine and was well aware of us when we were there, I guess girls are stronger and being older helps. I'm not sure how she is now but Dtey Htoo told me she was going to be ok. It was a load off because I couldn't imagine her mother being able to take losing two children in the same week.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
This woman and her family came to the clinic at the IDP site the day before I took this picture. The medic I was with saw them that day, this baby boy was having a hard time breathing and it was the first time I had ever seen a human look as if they would die. We came back this day and indeed the baby had died. The mother craddled the baby as if he was still alive. It just emptied you out to witness. I couldn't say anything, I left money when we left. If she had made it to the clinic sooner... if they hadn't been on the run... mothers losing children to preventable diseases is one problem we can try and help.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
This little girl was always looking after her niece while her sister was away. She couldn't have been ten years old and yet there she was stuck hiding in the jungle from the Burma Army and picking up her duty. One thing about suffering in Karen State, they do it together.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
I was able to film Monkey on the trip. It took me a few weeks to meet up with him because he was already deep inside Karen State. When I got to where he was he was sick with malaria. He was in bed and not looking so good, but we talked and he joked around a bit. The next day we walked up and down mountains for 5 hours, amazing considering his condition. Despite being a very nice man, he's also tough.
I have just returned from five weeks inside Karen State with the Free Burma Rangers. I learned of a different type of internally displaced people that I had not heard of before, what we can call “chronic IDPs”. The ones I met had been forced to leave their villages in 1976, and have been more or less on the run ever since. Thirty years of fear and uncertainty. When I asked them what they did for healthcare they laughed and replied, “you get better or you die”. They are unable to school their children and farm in small amounts but not enough to keep from hunger. Because they are undocumented it’s dangerous for them to travel to larger villages to sell or buy goods. They are cut off from even their own people and literally live like animals. The families I met were in total about 120 people. One very small man was eager to share with us, “When we farm we have to carry two baskets, one basket of seed to plant, and the other basket we carry blankets and clothing, when we work we look at the hilltops, if the enemy comes we run, if we see them we run, if we don’t see them they will shoot us. Sometimes if someone is shot we cannot help them, it’s very difficult for us.” It was hard to imagine living this way, but it struck me plainly that the Burma Army is dehumanizing and stripping good people of their dignity and right to basic freedoms. This man risked his life and family to come to talk with us, he desperately wanted to share what was happening. I share this as a favor to him. Thank you. (The medic treating this "chronic" IDP is named Dey Htoo, she is a great lady and will surely be in the film.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
This little girl is from Karen State, Burma. Her family and thousands of others have been forced to flee from their homes because of attacks by the Burma Army, who have orders to shoot to kill civilians in Karen State (more on this later). I took this picture while on a 5 week trip with the Free Burma Rangers. I returned safe and sound, but that is not the situation for thousands of people inside. I shot 11 hours of video and plan to make the film mentioned here in the coming months. I'll be posting more stills and info soon...