The camps could not run without the input of thousands of refugee community leaders and workers. Below, we hear from some of those who help keep daily life going in different camps, as well as from refugees who are participating in different camp programmes.
Padee Go Laa
Since his only daughter returned to Burma/ Myanmar from Mae La camp 10 years ago, Padee Go Laa has been living alone. At 65 years old, with impairment to his right ear and eye, and an illness that had him in-and-out of the camp medical facilities for months, he had been living in a shelter without walls. Insects have been devouring the walls over the past two years.
Saw Da Wi
Working as a Warehouse Security Guard, Saw Da Wi used to live in Karen state, and now resides in Mae La camp. He had to move a few times before he arrived in Mae La, where he began working as section security.
Koh Hey, Tham Hin
Koh Hey is 45 years old. He came to the Tham Hin camp in 1998, so he has been living in the camp for 17 years. In 2010 he became a bamboo worker with TBC and started planting bamboo up in the mountain on 30 acres of land. In 2013 he planted many bananas, bamboo, eucalyptus and other trees in an additional land of 10 acres.
Kho Pha Cho, Tham Hin Camp
His name is Kho Pha Cho but normally people call him “Tee Poe” which means “Little Uncle”. He fled from Burma/ Myanmar in 1997. He still remembers the first year when he arrived. There were only a few houses because Tham Hin camp had been just been established. The camp needed some people to work for the communities so Kho Pha Cho devoted himself as he likes to support people.
Tee Ya Bu, Tham Hin
Tee Ya Bu, 58, has been living in Tham Hin camp since it was established in 1997. Over the years he has been involved in many programmes run by NGO. He is now working as part of the CEAB (Camp Elders Advisory Board). His main responsibility is to give advice in camp legal judgements.