The Irrawaddy Magazine (June 2011, Vol.19 No.2)

Page 16

Committed, They Survive An Irrawaddy reporter spends 10 days with villagers in northern Karen State—where lifestyles are simple, but lives are complicated By SAW YAN NAING


t was already 5 pm when we reached a small village after crossing the Thai-Burmese border. As the sun went down behind the mountain, it became cooler, and we started to climb the barren mountain. After one hour of uphill climbing, we stopped to catch our breath. My shirt was soaked through with sweat. It was getting dark and the jungle was getting deeper. As we walked on, we chatted and shared experiences with our guide, a soldier from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). As night fell, I asked the Karen soldier about security conditions. I learned there were Burmese government army bases and landmines planted near the route we trekked.