Message from the Founder and the Chairperson
When I came to the Thailand-Burma border in 2011, I had no idea it was to change my life forever. I had just finished studying for MSc in Ethnic Relations and was looking to volunteer for a few months with one of the local organisations on the border.
Little did I know that the people of Burma would sweep me off my feet and leave me no choice but to stay. The culture that once seemed strange and foreign, slowly became my home as I worked and lived with migrants and refugees from various ethnic groups in Burma. I was amazed by the courage and spirit of these people who had been oppressed and pushed to the peripheries of their societies for so long. They had almost none of those things that in my society people have grown up to take for granted, and yet they were the most grateful, giving, determined, and inspiring people I had ever met.
Living in a refugee camp for one school year, I witnessed people’s desperation first-hand as they had no voice to speak with. No one seemed to listen and most had given up hope. I learned refugees’ feelings about the help they received and what they wanted for their future. Step by step, these experiences and aspirations led me to found Burma Link with the help of foreign professionals and refugees and migrants from Burma. We might come from different worlds, but we share a dream, a passion, and an unwavering belief that at this critical time of change, amplifying the marginalised voices of Burma is more important than ever.
Taking on this challenge has certainly meant some serious life changes for me, which some of my family and friends have greeted with support and enthusiasm while others struggle to understand the choice I made. All I can say is I never felt that I made a choice.
If your family and friends were in trouble, wouldn’t you do everything you can to help them? If your family and friends were living a limbo with no rights and no future to look forward to, wouldn’t you try to give them one? If they and their people were oppressed, wouldn’t you seek justice for them, and if they and their people were silenced, wouldn’t you find a way to have their voices heard? So would I.