Class of 2010
I was born in Pukaraku Village, Pruhso Township of Karenni State, Burma. There are six people in my family. My parents are farmers and they rely on hill site cultivation. We have to work hard to provide for our survival, so it’s very difficult for me to continue my school because I belong to a poor family. My parents could not provide my school fee until I was eight years old. In 1994 I started to attend primary school in my Pukaraku Village. After then, I continued my middle school and high school in a Catholic boarding school in Pruhso Town and I have finished through ninth grade. I stayed in the Catholic boarding school for five years and grew up there.
A problem was that an SPDC [Burmese government] soldier suspected I was a Karenni rebel soldier because I had been away at boarding school. On February 4, 2004, they arrested me and I was in prison for a week in my village. They interrogated me and asked me if I knew anyone in the Karenni rebel group.
They threatened me with a gun and said they would kill me if I did not tell the truth. I could not give them any information because I did not know anything. I was arrested with one of my cousins, my uncle, and some other villagers. They continued to beat us, forced us to serve the SPDC military by collecting all of the guns in our village. The elders of my village said our guns are not for killing people, just only for our houses and farms. Because of these many problems, I left my village in 2004.
On May 18, 2004, I arrived in Karenni Refugee Camp #1. I continued my studies in 8, 9, and 10 standards in Karenni high school. After I graduated from high school, I worked with Karenni Education Department for two years as teacher. I taught Non-Vocational Training such as how to make a toilet cup, stove, soap, shampoo, soap liquid for washing plates, and growing plants. I taught students about these subjects because I want to share the knowledge and experience that I have learned with people who do not know about this. Still, when I was a teacher for two years, I was not satisfied with myself because I was not a qualified teacher. I decided I need to continue my knowledge, so I applied to the SDC to study more about Human Rights, Environment and Rule of Law.
It was very important and useful for me to study in SDC because I learned a lot there and became qualified to teach. Before I attended this school, I did not have any experience with Human Rights, Environment, Democracy and Rule of Law, but now I understand these subjects. For example, in the past I did not understand what democracy is.
That’s why this training will be very useful for me in the future. I have also learned for the first time about women’s rights, refugee rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is very important for your community that SDC continues to provide education.
The subjects which SDC teaches in the school are also related to our community because we do not understand what are rule of law and human rights, so most people misunderstand and misuse their rights. Also, the people already destroyed their environment by cutting down trees without knowing how to replant the tree. Therefore, I will take what I have learned in this school and I will help my community as I can. I will go inside Karenni State and give awareness training to the people. In our community, we have faced with a lack of water because we do not know how to keep our environment. That is why we need to take care of our forest and environment. We need to know how to protect our environment. I enjoy working in the school garden, where we grow some of our food.
For me, if my community is faced with any problem, I will discuss with our community leader who has power or responsibility. I will provide awareness training and trust it will help. I have more confidence in myself because during the class we had group discussions and made many presentations. Also we had a field work session, so I know how to interview people or how to get information.
I would like to thank our donors who support our SDC project, and also our teachers who work to set up our SDC training center for Karenni people. Now in our Karenni society, most of the people know about human rights, environment, and rule of law because of your work. In my opinion, I want SDC school to continue in the future because it’s very important for our Karenni society to know about the subjects provided in the program. Now I have learned about this and I ‘m going to share with those who are unaware.
Khu Klaw Reh is now a teacher at Karenni National Youth Organization.