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.