She is treated like an animal. She is from one of our cousin tribes, whose women wear copper rings on their necks. They have been nicknamed "long necks" and "giraffe women." The Thai government keeps them in a separate camp where tourists pay money to photograph them like animals in a zoo.
UNSEEN MAE LA An innovative arts project for Karen refugees from Burma to describe their lives through photography.
I love art. I first learned to paint in a refugee camp. I’ve had several teachers and I spend a lot of time practicing. Painting is healing because it gives me an objective and goals. It gives me something to focus on. I paint my friends as well as famous people like Mother Teresa and Karen leaders. I make paintings about the Karen struggle so people outside our community can learn about our situation. Sometimes art can be more powerful than fighting. It is a non-violent way for me to show opposition to the Burmese military.
Before I came to Thailand I was a soldier in the Karen army. I joined the army out of rage because the Burmese soldiers burned down my home and killed my neighbors. I wanted to fight them so bad. However I was young and had little military training. After three years in the army I decided to come to Thailand and finish my high school education.
Last year I returned to Karen State to teach art to children. It was difficult because we had few resources. I brought some paints and we painted on paper and wood. It felt good to teach people and encourage them to think creatively.