PHOTO ESSAY: THE CHIN REFUGEES

Students in Alliance of Chin Refugees school were asked to draw something that represents them as Chins. The age of these students are from 5 to 17, currently studying preschool to secondary schools.

 

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Parmin, 7, from preschool drew a church and wrote “happy day”. For her, Christianity represents them as Chins because Christianity is what brings and unites them together. She said that every Sunday is a happy day for her because she gets to go to church.

 

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Kristulian, 13, wrote “charcoal” in Chin language. To him, charcoal represents him as a Chin because unlike Malaysians, salt is used for cooking. He stated that charcoal is added to their cooking in the Chin State instead of salt.

 

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Roding, 11, drew a Myanmar traditional food called Mohinga. He said Mohinga is made with rice noodle and fish which is usually taken as breakfast. His mother will make Mohinga for him in the morning.

 

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Joseph, 12, drew Sabuti, a traditional food from Chin State. Sabuti is a soup mixed with meat, also known as the Chin Soup. Having Sabuti as a meal is rare and precious for him because his parents will only cook Sabuti during special occasions or celebrations.

 

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Van Thawng Hnin, 13, drew a fish. He likes to go fishing with his uncle when he was in Myanmar. “My uncle made it,” said Thawng Hnin about the fishing rod he drew underneath the fish.

 

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Benjamin, 12, drew the Rih Dil, also known as the Heart-Shaped Lake located in northwestern of Chin State. Rih Dil is a natural lake and it is called the Heart-Shaped Lake because it has a heart-shaped outline. According to Benjamin, the local people believe in a legend about a monster living in the lake, causing him to be afraid to swim in the lake.

 

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Kelvin, 13, drew the highest mountain in Myanmar, Hkakabo Razi. He thinks that this mountain represents his home country because it reminds him of his father. Last month, UNHCR has stopped extending and renewing their Chin status. His father was forced to go back to their homeland due to his expiration of UNHCR card. Kelvin is now living with his mother and sister in Pudu.

 

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Paul, 15, drew a hornbill. Hornbill is the state bird of Chin State in Myanmar. He has never seen a real hornbill in his life while he was in Myanmar. He only had the chance to see pictures of hornbills through the Internet and on the flag of Chin State.

 

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Louis, 14, drew the Kaladan River. He said this river represents him as a Chin because Kaladan River is the largest river in Chin State. Furthermore, Kaladan River forms an international border between Myanmar and India.

 

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Daniel, 13, said Chinlone, also known as the caneball, represents him as a Chin. He said Chinlone is the national sports of Myanmar and the rule of playing it is to pass the ball without using the hands. He used to play Chinlone with his friends in his home country. When he was asked about his friends, he said that some of his friends are still in the Chin State.

 

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Both Theresa (left), 16, and Lung Ding Len (right), 16, drew maize. In the Chin State, almost everyone plants maize. “Rice is expensive,” explained Theresa as maize is the alternative of rice for the Chin people. If there are any extra maizes, they will share them around the neighbourhood or sell them at the market.

 

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Nuam Boin, 11, drew their own tribe traditional costumes which is called Zopuan. The colour of the costumes are usually in red, black and yellow, which are designed according to the colours of the state bird of Chin State – hornbill. Beside the traditional costumes, Nuam Boin drew a house and wrote “Tedim”. Tedim is the second largest town in Chin State, it was where she lived when she was in Myanmar.

 

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Deborah, 12, from the Matu tribe drew the Matu traditional clothes. The Matu tribe will wear the costume during Chin National Day or any other festivals. For example, the Matu tribe will celebrate a kind of ‘plantation festival’ which falls on July 12. They will sing and dance together while the others will do some planting. This festival symbolizes that everyone can harvest every year and will have a sufficient amount of food for the whole family.

 

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Anna, 11, drew a picture of a house. She said that this house is in Myanmar and it belongs to her aunt. This is a picture of her aunt’s house where her aunt sent to her recently, telling them that she is waiting for them to go back. The little bird house under the apple tree is made by her grandfather. His grandfather also told her that he is waiting for Anna and her younger sister to climb up the strong ladder he has made, to pluck the apples down for him.

 

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Sam, 12, drew his house (top left) where he lived when he was in Chin State. He said his house did not have a toilet so they had to walk to a distanced public toilet (right top). His parents who were both in Malaysia, had given Sam the desire to be here with his parents. When he was 9 years old, he finally had the chance to come to Malaysia with his sister and aunt. He cried when he saw his parents as he had never seen them in a very long time.

 

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