Let’s drink water from Ayeyarwaddy River together (December 14, 2003)

My wife is expecting our first baby boy in April next year, 2004. She is now in her 5 months pregnancy. As her OG doctor has advised she has to do some exercises and walk at least 30 minutes everyday. So she walks everyday for 30 min near our home. At the beginning, she used to walk a few blocks away from home, which is in a quiet and nice surrounding, back and fort to meet the target.

One Saturday morning when I had day off from my job, I walked with her in the same routine. But when we reached end of the road from where she used to turn back, we decided continue walking into a look-alike park. After passing a few tall trees and children play ground, wow! We found out that there is a beautiful small lake and a walking path circled the lake. We saw a few elders and families with children walking and playing around the lake. My wife finally found the best place for everyday walking.

It is just about 10 to 15 minutes walk to the park from our home. We’ve been living at this place for almost two years and didn’t know there is a beautiful park and lake. How strange! We didn’t have enough time to explore our neighbor. No one did tell us about the lake. Some thoughts suddenly popped up in my head. There are problems faced by our Burmese people who immigrate to the States. We lack resources to access basic needs when we get here: jobs, education, health care, immigration services, and housing. I have seen Chinese, Philippines, Vietnams, Latinos, and Europeans immigrants supporting non-profit organizations and services, but never heard a Burmese organization or services which can help our people.

Some might say helps will never come to you unless you find it yourself. A friend told me that one must be an active person not to be a passive person in the US in order to get something done. That is very true. But for those who lack education and language skill, it is very hard to survive in the melting pot. They need help not from others but from our own people.

I know there are many Burmese families who are doing extremely well in the States. But sometimes I feel that our Burmese people are jealous and fighting each other. We are a little nervous to see others doing well or better than us. Some people have the information and resources but hardly let other people know. They don’t share the resources unless you are a member of their inner circle. The outsiders who don’t have much net working or friends or relatives usually end up with misery. I guess that our typical attitude is part of the reasons that our country is still in so called third world countries. Another interesting thing is that some people who now have resources and information in fact once had a hard time to get them. So they learnt it from a hard way, and they don’t want to let others get it easily. Isn’t it strange?

Thinking back to the time when I was in my hometown, Myitkyina, those people from small towns and rural areas really like dummies. They know very little about many things. We didn’t hear about TOEFL or DV lottery at all while people in the capital, Yangon were applying DV forms and taking TOEFL test to come to the US.

I still remember the first time before I visited Thailand in 1991; I came down to Yangon for preparing travel documents. At that time, I didn’t know what was “visa” or what was “passport”. I could not visualize what they were. It took me some time to understand what a person needs for visiting a foreign country. After understanding what was “passport” and knowing I needed one, the story about applying for my passport was more horrible. Let me just cut short and stop here.

What I want to point out in this article is that information is very important, and we are living in information age. People will be left behind due to the lack of information and knowledge. For people living in the States, it is very easy to get all kinds of information. All you need is just a few clicks on your computer. But for our friends, brothers and sisters who are in Burma, especially in remote areas without access to all necessary information and knowledge, they are just like seven blinds who tried to know what an elephant looks like in a Burmese story.

So open up your mind, share your love, and help each other. Fortune makes us close together that become the people of Burma, so it doesn’t matter to share the water of Ayeyarwaddy River together.