The bullets in my heart…
Following the military coup in Myanmar on February 1st 2021 I have been sharing stories about how we have and are experiencing unpredictable challenges, suffering and difficulties which have caused so much physical, mental and emotional pain in our lives. I have shared these stories from my perspective as a Myanmar citizen, a village woman and a remote survivor to many of you whom I am honoured to call my friends, living in the UK, USA, Australia, Belgium, Korea, Thailand, India and beyond. Prospect Burma, my current employer, has given me an opportunity to share the story of how I escaped from the coup when I left Yangon in March 2021 and also to summarise the stories common to thousands of people fleeing across the borders to protect themselves and their families. We have even been able to tell our story in person to our Patron HRH Prince Charles who believes that no voice is insignificant.
Living in exile…
When I was leaving my country, my home, my family and my friends, my first thought was of course where shall I go? Which place might be the most appropriate to settle down and stay for a while as we are waiting and expecting the success of the revolution activities in our country? It is so hard to choose. It is too difficult to have to leave everything for no good reason. It’s hard enough when there is a purpose but this coup is just nonsense.
Over the last year, I haven’t had a peaceful mind even for a moment, because I have been carrying the bullets (pain) from Myanmar in my heart. Everyone deserves the right to be safe, but not everyone could leave and escape as I was able. I am safe but daily I have to hear about the brutal, senseless acts of the military and knowing what could happen to them at any time during any moment haunts me. I feel guilt, “Why am I able to leave, but so many can’t? Should I go back? Am I doing everything I can to help?”
As the time passes by, our everyday hope remains to go back home. However, the situation continues to worsen and more and more have to leave their homes. The military has burned down many homes, burned people alive in vehicles or tied to posts and burned entire villages and small towns. They are torturing and arresting people with no just cause. Martial Law is in effect and what they want to do they do. As a result what can we do? We are forced to decide whether to flee, remain and get beaten, or to fight. The once loving communities are now full of fear and hate as jealousy begins to creep into the hearts and minds of all citizens in Myanmar and as food and water begin to run short. It is a living hell. We are already too tired, already too lonely and already too broken both in our homeland and in the strange land from afar. Even after more than a year of the forced military takeover of Myanmar, there have not not been any possible solutions for us to get back to democracy, freedom and independence. But I thank you to all our supporters and helpers for your help and support and those encouraging words which have taken away some of the bullets from my heart and the hearts of my fellow Myanmar brothers and sisters. You have helped enable us to hold on to some of our peace, hope and dreams and have helped sustain us for many days and months.
A phone call from border villages for help…
On one particular morning in early January 2022, I received a phone call from my village elders with their worries, sorrows and heavy hearts about how they have been receiving countless fleeing refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s) from several places in southern Chin State. More than 300 IDP’s were beginning to settle there. These people include parents, children and elderly. Many of the elderly are very old who might die in a few months. I was so sad to hear that these old people who are not going to live long, ask the border Myanmar villagers to take care of them and not send them to India because they “want to be buried in Myanmar land rather than India”. Unfortunately these people have had to leave their villages. They were forced to leave by the local army (CDF). They think that border villages near Mizoram, India are the safest place to run for their safety because if anything happens near these villages, they could at least flee across the border to India. The children who are supposed to be in the school classrooms are now wandering around without a future or hope because there is no way to access education.
Before I got this call from the village elders, I was receiving calls from many individuals for help. Because of this, through my parents in the village, we did everything we could to help and support them with whatever was within our capacity. We helped to provide food and shelter materials. With the needs from my villagers on the top of the extra 300 refugee IDP individuals everything was beginning to become stressed. All kinds of supplies such as water, firewood and rice were a shortage. I started enquiring of some humanitarian organisations such as Rotary Clubs and Health and Hope who we could access for help but unfortunately they had either run out of their relief budget or already ended the projects which were provided to the first refugee groups in different locations. As it was an emergency situation, the only thing I could think to do was to ask my closest friends to pray and contribute to us in any way they could to support and help these people. I am massively grateful to you, my dear friends from different parts of the world who have listened to our stories and heard us. We thank you so much for your greatest sympathy for the predicament we are facing and for responding to us in our most difficult times. The main items for this emergency relief support included, rice, dal, sugar, salt, oil, potatoes, soap, soap powder, toothpaste and sinpolins (shelters).
MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU ALL! Thank you for supporting me in this difficult time to help my people. Nothing will make me prouder than to tell them that these items are from you all. Thank you to my Mom and brother-in-laws for helping me to arrange all these things. I do seriously appreciate their willingness and hard work to make it all happen. And thanks to Mom and Dad for visiting the IDP families to encourage and pray for them. Also I thank my sisters and the village elders for packing the food items and distributing them.
AND SOME WORDS OF THANKS FROM THE REFUGEES; “Thank you all so much. Your support enabled us to continue to live with hope. It helps us to forget our pains at least for some time. Our only hope and desire are to be able to go back safely to our own village from here soon. We have so much to think for ourselves such as food, shelter and where to go for our safety as we leave our homes, our works and our villages. Seeing your love and support means a lot to us and has comforted us from all our worries. May God bless you!“