(Mae La camp)
Daw Moe Moe Win is a confident leader in her role heading up Community-Managed Targeting (CMT) in Mae La, the largest refugee camp in Thailand.
She and her family arrived in the camp in 2006, after experiencing many difficulties in Burma/Myanmar.
Born an ethnic Lisu in northern Shan State, Daw Moe Moe Win’s family was forced to move several times to avoid conflict.
For a time she lived in Kachin State, but her parents sent her back to Shan State to avoid recruitment by an armed group, and then on to Yangon.
In the country’s largest city, Daw Moe Moe Win worked for a time as a maid for food and accommodation while attending school. She went on to do many other random jobs after she moved to a boarding house while continuing to study.
Her education was cut short after the student uprising in 1988 precipitated the closing of universities, and then she married and had a child. In 2006 she arrived in Mae La with her husband and three children.
The family waited a year to receive rations, but while they waited Daw Moe Moe Win lost no time in starting to teach refugee children.
For five years she taught English, Burmese, and Math to students in her home. Only those students who afford it paid, sometimes with rice.
In time, she started working with the Coordinating Committee of Ethnic Groups (CCEG), and was eventually promoted to coordinator to plan events and work with the camp committee and Thai authorities on various issues.
In 2012, when Community-Managed Targeting was launched, Daw Moe Moe Win was elected as its manager. The hard worker took to her new position with energy, commitment, and an understanding of the challenges of a role that meant ensuring that some 40,000 people would receive the rations they needed.
Her perseverance and resilience have helped contribute to a better understanding and acceptance of the system among the community. Despite the many challenges in her work, Daw Moe Moe Win continues to thrive in the job and she remains determined.
“If we look at it from a social or religious perspective, CMT is fair. It teaches those who have, to share with those who don’t, while encouraging self-reliance for others,” she said.
As for the question of one day returning to Burma/Myanmar, “I can only go back when there is real peace without human rights violations. I worry for my children; they would have very limited opportunities to integrate.”