The Karen People

 By Zoe, Emily, and McCall

When people think of the Karen people they are typically familiar with films, documentaries about them or have heard of the term “long neck” tribe. People hear of the term “long neck tribe” due to the brass rings that women wear around their neck. An interesting myth about the rings is that it is said to elongate the wearer’s neck but is rather just a visual illusion. What most people don’t know that there are only certain subgroups within the Karen people practice this custom and is most common in the Padaung subgroup. The different subgroups had not historically recognized themselves as belonging to the same group until recently. Other than the gold neck rings the traditional clothing of the Karen consists of men wearing a sarong (a wrap like piece of clothing) and a sleeveless shirt. Unmarried Karen women sometimes wear a long white dress, and married Karen women wear a sarong and sleeveless shirt. Men and women wear different patterned and colored sarongs and wear them in different ways. Continue reading “The Karen People”

Refugees in Thailand

Refugees in Thailand

By: Nicole Roberts and Sarah Schafer

A refugee is someone who fears persecution while living in his or her home country, due to race, religion, nationality, or belonging to a particular social/political group, and seeks the protection of another country (Hodes, 2000). It is estimated that there is 19.2 million refugees world wide in which half of these are children (Ehntholt & Yule, 2006). Refugees have an increased risk to develop psychopathologies such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Conduct Disorder, due to traumatic exposure from war and leaving their home country (O’Shea, Hodes, Down, & Bramley, 2000). Many refugees will spend years in camps in which poor living conditions can consist of inadequate water and food supply (Lustig, Kia-Keating, Knight, Geltman, Ellis, Kinzie, & Saxe, 2004). Many of these refugees may then be sent to a foreign country not knowing the language (Kinzie, Sack, Angell, Manson, & Rath, 1986). These refugee children and adolescents are then expected to begin school at their age level, instead of their academic ability (Kinzie et al., 1986). A refugee child or adolescent may begin to feel lost between the pressures felt to perform above his or her academic abilities, combined with the burden of past memories, such as war and structural violence. Continue reading “Refugees in Thailand”

The Karen

By: Amanda Phillips & Kristin Harko


Due to war, persecution, or violence many people are forced to flee their own country.  Everyday these people fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, group membership, or political standing.  More often than not, these people cannot return to their home countries and seek refuge in a second or third country permanently.  These people seeking refuge are known as refugees.  An expanding group of refugees found in Salt Lake City, Utah is the Karen refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.

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Ban Nam Hom

By: Tamer Begum

The past 4 days we’ve been staying in a small remote village in northern Thailand. So remote we piled in the back of pickup trucks, with all the gear, then an hour drive trough the bumpy mountain terrain, finally ending at Ban Nam Hom school. The school itself was composed of about 6 medium sized, one floor houses where the kids would study and more often then not sleep. The majority of the children are poor, and live there year round due to the fact that their family house is anywhere from 1-15 miles away. Last year from the fundraising efforts we were able to build a dormitory to house the 100 plus boys. Keeping in mind there are over 200 kids schooling and living there. This year we finished painting it, and helped restore a few other run down houses / fences to improve their quality of life.

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Hser Ner Moo Reflection

By: Lindsey Dunlap

After Volunteering at the Hser Ner Moo Center and going on the Mayterm Thailand trip, I have realized that an individual does not have to go out of the country to understand that we also have problems in our own backyard. I think that a lot of people think that it’s only the third world countries that experience poverty, poor health, and lack of accessibility to health care. Volunteering at a place such as Hser Ner Moo doesn’t just open your eyes to new ideas of how to help, or where to help, but it really makes you wonder why we don’t address these problems at a higher volume. And these problems don’t just exist in the refugee camps here in the United States, but everywhere. This is where I tend to get stuck on where to start or how to even go about helping.

In the United States we tend to focus on the issues of other countries rather than on our own soil, which only makes problems worse. For some reason, “us Americans” feel Continue reading “Hser Ner Moo Reflection”

The Mae Tao Clinic

By: Kate Stoner and Tiffany Henry

In Mae Sot, we visited the Mae Tao Clinic, which was an absolutely incredible experience. The clinic, just over the Burmese border, provides medical treatment for displaced Burmese people. Some patients are living in Thailand and have no other healthcare options while others traveled from Burma into Thailand just to receive medical attention from the clinic.

I enjoyed visiting the maternity ward of the clinic and seeing so many new mothers holding or resting next to their newborn babies. The newborns I saw all looked like premies, but they may be smaller than children in the U.S. because of maternal malnutrition or lack of pre natal care. Also, abortions are illegal in Thailand so a lot of the babies or patients were results if failed abortions or abortion attempts, which was extremely shocking and sad to see.

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Mae Tao Clinic-May 12, 2011

By: Alex Guinney and Feli Anne Hipol

Try and imagine going to a  refugee clinic where individuals have minimal options and this place is their last hope. Well, Dr. Cynthia’s Mao Tao Clinic is exactly that place, where the Thai people allow the clinic to help those who are fleeing from the chaos in Burma. The clinic is located in Mae Sot, Thailand where our school group is currently located and where we had the privilege to go visit and take in a greater understanding of this community on the border and the medical needs of the many refugees.

Alex –

Nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had while being toured around the clinic and it’s many facilities each with a specific focus. I found the dental care room and the prosthetics room to be the most interesting, because of the tools used or lack of tools used and the craft associated with them. There was only one dental chair that was simple and looked aged and not much supplies stored within the area, and with looking around at the many numbers of children and adults, I wondered if it met the needs for the community. And there were prosthetics I have never seen before so I was very intrigued by the craft,and how they go about meeting the needs of the refugees whom many had been injured by war and basically all patients were male. They did simple leg prosthetics, as to which I was able to see a refugee who was the owner of two prothetic legs and was able to get around rather efficiently.I think that the hardest part of the whole visit was the surgical center and the children’s care center. They were not very crowded when we Continue reading “Mae Tao Clinic-May 12, 2011”

An Escape Along the Thai Border: Burmese Refugees

By: Siri Wieringa and Kaylene Moulton

Burma is home to one of the longest running secret civil wars in the world. Lasting over 50 years, the country has been run by a succession of military governments (Bowles, 11). The violence that has been tearing Burma apart has caused citizens to flee the country. “Nearly one million people have fled Burma for relative safety of Thailand over the last two decades” (Lang, 369). Many go to refugee camps along the border of Burma in Thailand. “At the beginning of 1994, 72,000 refugees lived in 30 camps, of which the largest housed 8,000 people; by mid 1998, 110,000 refugees lived in 19 camps, with the largest housing over 30,000 people” (Bowles, 11). Refugee camps along the Burmese and Thailand border have become more and more prevent as the years have gone on. “About 142, 000 Burmese refugees reside as a ‘temporarily displaced people’ in one of the nine official refugee camps, while an estimated two million live and work outside the camp, either legally registered as migrant workers or more likely illegally”(284).

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