From Thailand to Texas: Seven-year Journey Almost at an End

Date Publish: 
06/21/12
Region-Country: 
Thailand / Asia

Mum and Dad are a little jaded, a little nervy. The daughters
are bursting with excitement. After seven years of living in a
refugee camp this little family is headed for Texas.

Mya Boe (59), his wife  Hee Thaw (57) and daughters Day Mu
Shi (24) and Kae Ler Paw (20) are at the end of a long process of
health checks, cultural awareness training and interviews, and will
soon be leaving Thailand for a new life.

In August 2005 Mya Boe took the decision to  get out of
Myanmar, fleeing through the jungle and across mountains, with a
bag of rice on his back, a wife and two teenage girls in tow. Now
he and his family are the latest of over 80,000 people to pass
through IOM’s Thai resettlement programme over the past five
years.

“There was no rule of law in our village,” Mya Boe
remembers with a sad sigh. “Different sets of soldiers would
come at different times and we would have to give them the rice or
the beans we had grown. I couldn’t support my family, so we
fled. We didn’t know where we were going, we just asked in
every village which way the border was. I had to drag the girls at
one stage.”

 After a week they arrived at Mae Ra Mah Luang camp in
northern Thailand and when the opportunity to emigrate presented
itself, the family decided to take it.

“The situation is getting better (in Myanmar),” says
Mya Boe. “But we have decided to settle in the US. My
daughters need to know what the world is and they need an
education. For me it’s too late, but I will find some job to
earn money to support them and secure their future.”

The youngest daughter, Kae Ler Paw, doesn’t hesitate when
asked what she wants to be. “A doctor,” she says.

Her sister is more guarded. “While I am excited about
going to a country which has enough freedom for us, I’m also
worried about the level of education. Can I get up to standard? But
I know I want to be a humanitarian worker, a teacher or something
like that so I can help my people.”

There’s a long pause. Mum, Dad, IOM international staff,
translator and logistician sit and quietly think. We are already
proud of these young women. Apprehension, optimism, a will to make
sacrifices and to succeed. This is the real face of migration.

Mya Boe, Hee Thaw and daughters Day Mu Shi (left) and Kae Ler Paw at the IOM Mae Sot Processing Cetnre in Northern Thailand this week prior to their journey to a new life in Texas. © IOM 2012 (Photo: Joe Lowry)
Mya Boe, Hee Thaw and daughters Day Mu Shi (left) and Kae Ler Paw at the IOM Mae Sot Processing Cetnre in Northern Thailand this week prior to their journey to a new life in Texas. © IOM 2012 (Photo: Joe Lowry)