In the first conversation I had with a man I work with, he told me that 20 years ago the Burmese Military Government's army came into his town in and ordered everyone be sent to camps controlled by the Burmese Military. He called them concentration camps. This was part of the government's strategy to combat the ethnic resistance armies that opposed the military government. The logic is that these towns are where the ethnic armies get their soldiers, food and support from. If you kick everyone out of their homes, there will be no one to support the ethnic opposition armies. His family, along with many people from his home town, fled toward the Thai boarder. They've lived the last 20 years or so in the refugee camp, near where I work. There he started working with an NGO that works very closely with mine. He takes a secret path out of the camp everyday to get to work.
The guys who sits next to me at work told me his only brother died of chicken pox a little while ago. Almost everyone I've known has had chicken pox. They just weren't vulnerable enough to die from it. He lives in the refugee camp as well.
This blog entry is going to be a bit of a downer but I think I have something important to say.
Yesterday I wrote a song called “Remove Yourself” (when I finish tweaking it I'll record it and post it on this blog). The song is about how easy it is to not care about anyone or anything when you're not happy. I've been home sick lately. I've been a little depressed. I've been left in an small town, where I don't know anyone, and been told I've gotta get myself set up. I'm having a hard time meeting people, I'm having a hard time finding somewhere to live, and I'm having a hard time adjusting and fitting in at work. And yes, lately I've had a hard time caring about anyone or anything else. The other day I wanted to get on my motorbike and just keep driving. I wanted to go back to Chiang Mai, where I had lots of western volunteer friends. Life was easier there.
I thought about the people I work with. A lot of them have lived lives I can't imagine, but they appear to be happy people. They're always joking, laughing, smiling, and I think they are happy to be working at an organization that I've wanted to run away from. They've had everything stacked against them in their life and they're working to protect the environment, and protect the people in their home state that has been brutally betrayed, pillaged, and violently oppressed by their government. How do you live a life like that and not be totally self centered?
I don't know how they've managed not to remove themselves from the plight of other people, but I clearly have a lot I can learn from these people.