At the beginning of August, I had the opportunity to spend two days in a hill tribe village. I learned a lot about family and community in those two short days. Coincidentally, I was there on Mother’s Day (the Queen’s birthday) and the family I stayed with gathered together and sang songs. I sat near the grandmother (who is in the last photo of this sequence) and watched her face beam with pride as all her children and grandchildren sat together and honored her. As a family, they share many meals and moments together.
I spent the 4th of July this year at a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border. It was a surreal experience to say the least. From Mae Sariang, we drove for four hours on the winding and bumpy roads that were carved out of the side of mountains to this isolated camp. Ma Ra Moe Luang Refugee Camp is home to over 16,000 Karen people, who have fled Burma for better education and freedom from political unrest. While they can live at the camp, their world doesn’t go much beyond the gate. If they were to try and leave, they would risk being deported because they do not possess the proper documentation to be in Thailand. I met students who walked for days and some weeks to get to this camp because it has better schools than their home villages. It was an incredible testament of human resilience and strength.
We were at the camp for less than 24 hours and it was quite challenging to photograph. Taking photos within the camp is not really allowed, but I managed to take a few frames.
I was lucky to have three weeks in Mae Sariang at the Children’s Home in the Mae Hong Son Province. My time was spent photographing service projects, rice planting and teaching. Being surrounded by such a wonderful staff, great students and beautiful mountains made this experience so special. I am really proud of the library we built in a hill tribe village, which will be used by many students in the area for years to come.
Part 4: Ayutthaya & Bangkok
Just like the ice cream trucks that drive through your neighborhood, this woman paddles her boat through the canal, rings a bell and serves ice cream with corn to people in their stilted homes. Same same but different