These two young ladies have re-settled in Ottawa from refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. Their parents fled Burma due to civil war. They have come through horrors that we can’t even imagine.
I am in awe of their courage and that of their children who are making the transition to becoming proud Karen Canadians.
Hay Moo and Saa Mer Re joined me in a presentation about the Karen people and the work KLEO Support Group is doing. I am so proud of them. 

Here is what Saa Mer Ree shared with the audience.

“I’m from Mae La Oo. Before I came here I was in Grade 4. I remember waking up every morning at 4 am during exam month because my father wanted me to study, I was only seven years old. My brain wasn’t ready to study so hard. Sometimes I pretended to be sick but my father always made me get up.

At school in Canada I was surprised by the way the teachers are, they are pleasing to the students. Back in camp the teachers would hit you. That’s just the way it was there. Here, the teachers are polite and respectful. I was surprised when I heard a boy talking and yelling back at the teacher in Canada. In the camp it is so disrespectful and you would be in a lot of trouble. In coming to Canada I never as lonely as I was in the beginning. I was so lonely because I couldn’t speak or understand the language.

When the government came to Canada to decide who could go to Canada they decided that if a member of your family had been a soldier in the past the family could not go. My grandfather is from Burma and he was a soldier because of the war. It was kind of a silly rule because everyone knows that all Karen men in Burma have to be soldiers at some time in their lives or run away to the safety of a refugee camp.

When we arrived in Bangkok the airport was so big and being from the camp we had never seen anything so big. My Aunt had sent my father a $20.00 bill so he could see what it looked like and he had it in his wallet. We were tired and hungry and a lady came and gave us food. In the plane my brother and sister were air sick and they were vomiting in their sweaters. The food smelled so bad on the plane. One of the flight attendants gave us rice and chicken. I was so hungry that I didn’t leave a speck of food on my plate.

I saw the ocean from the plane and it make me feel free, free from so many things!

In Ottawa we arrived at an escalator and we didn’t know how to get on. We were thanking God because we didn’t get lost, a lot of other Karen people got lost. In Ottawa I saw my Aunt. It was the first time I tasted chocolate and strawberry.

I would like to go back to my home one day. I would like to share my Grandfather’s words which I remember to this day.

“A person who is educated is like the key to a treasure. A person with no education is like a house that is locked”

Thank you”


Hay Moo (left) Saa Mer Ree (right)

…and from Hay Moo.

“My name is Hay Moo and I’m from Mae Ra Moe refugee camp. I came to Canada with my family in 2009 when I was 10 years old.

Life in Thailand and Canada isn’t the same. In Thailand the education level is not as great as Canada, especially in the refugee camp. My parents wanted to come to Canada because they wanted my brother and I to have a better life and better education. When I was new to Canada everything was different for me, the landscape, the houses, the food, everything!

I was happy to come to Canada but sometimes I really miss my life in Thailand. I remember I would always have something fun to do, whether I was with my friends or alone. I remember when I was young I would always go to swim in the river after school. If we saw the principal walk by everyone would try to hide because at that time we were supposed to be doing our homework. We knew that if the principal saw us swimming instead of doing our homework we would get hit the next day. I used to hate it back then but now when I think about it I think it taught me for the better.

Now, I’m in Canada and the education isn’t the same. Learning is much better, there’s more opportunity to choose what we really want to do and learn.

I love both places, where I grew up and where I am living now.  Thank you.