Some years ago there was a child born in a bamboo hut during a rainy day in the mountainous jungles of Thailand. Her parents were one of the 300,000 Karen (ka-REN) people of Burma, who fled the persecution of the military government. She lived in many refugee camps on the Thai/Burma border for 27 years. Her name is Hsa Moo.
Twelve years passed and another young girl was sent to the camps for her safety after her village in Burma was repeatedly burned to the ground by the army. She left behind her parents and siblings, who are now either dead or among the internally displaced persons. Her name is Htoo Paw.
Hsa Moo and Htoo Paw, who are cousins, somehow found each other among the other 130,000 refugees living in the camps. Despite the hardships that they faced, they survived, educated themselves and eventually became leaders amongst their people.
Htoo Paw worked with a woman’s organization which helped women organize to build work co-ops within the camps. Hsa Moo was vice-president of a youth organization, and taught other young people about their rights and their Karen culture. She also was involved with a rudimentary radio station built for the people in the camps. She interviewed incoming refugees and produced radio programs which told the truth about the situation in Burma.
Both women could never return to their homeland for fear of being persecuted or murdered by the Burmese military government, nor were they able to leave the camps to find work and live in Thailand. As refugees, they had little hope of a future outside their camp.
But miracles do happen, and this past June the two cousins, now in their late 20s, resettled in Nelson and are now permanent residents of Canada. The Nelson Refugee Committee worked for more than three years to make this a reality. They waded through the paperwork involved and began fundraising in earnest from the start. Their commitment is to support Hsa Moo and Htoo Paw during their resettlement process and to provide full financial support for one full year.
On Saturday, October 27, there will be a fundraising dinner for the cousins at the United Church, Silica at Josephine Streets. This event will take the committee one step closer to meeting their financial goals for their support. Join the for a delicious Burmese (Karen) meal and meet Hsa Moo and Htoo Paw. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Dinner served at 6 p.m.. Tickets are available at Otter Books ($15/single, $45/ family).
For more information contact 352-3117.