(Nu Po Camp) 

Saw Gaw was no stranger to difficulties and challenges when he was elected leader of Nu Po camp in 2016.

“When I was in Burma, there was often fighting around my village. I had to flee many times. Life was full of fear. When my wife was pregnant, I decided to come to Nu Po refugee camp in Thailand.’’

At the camp, the father of three felt ‘’safe and protected,’’ he said.

‘’Here, I can serve the community freely.’’

In the future, Saw Gaw plans to farm in his home state. “I know that one day all refugees have to go back. My plan is to return and build my life in Karen State. I have an interest and skills in agriculture, so I plan to be a farmer.’’

He added: “Before we return, we need to prepare both the refugees and the places they will go back to. So in the camp committees, we go back for visits, talk with local authorities and the Karen National Union (KNU), and look for potential return sites.’’

The camp committee was planning to pilot livelihood projects together with some households in Burma/ Myanmar, to strengthen relationships with potential return communities, he said.

The future of his children is also on his mind. “I hope that my children’s education will be recognised by the Thai or Burma/Myanmar governments. Now, education in the camp is not accredited by any government.’’

TBC’s strategy for 2017 to 2019 focuses on preparedness initiatives that build skills that reinforce resilience among communities in the camps, support recovery and transition of conflict-affected communities, and continue to address the ongoing humanitarian situation.