brooklynmonk

Shan Refugee Documentary Project

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2011 at 4:50 am

 

Hsai Tai Yai Shan Refugee Project

 

I am back near the Burma border, to report on the Shan/Burma situation. I have plans to visit a number of aid organizations, migrants, civilians, refugees,

and military, to do a documentary series similar to the one I did in 2007

and 2008.

 

As always, I am self-funded and I really need financial help to complete

 

this project. Donations can be made through the paypal on my website

www.speakingadventure.com , or through my bank account, which I have pasted below. And, as always, I will share all of the stories, photos, and videos with you.
A few years ago, I did a video about a young Shan soldier whose family was murdered by the Burmese government. I did a video and article on him when he was a Shan soldier. Then I did a second video and article when he became a monk again, when he went to Thailand to follow up on a rumor his mother was alive. He appeared as a character in my book Warrior Odyssey. The last news I had, he was working as a volunteer at a Shan orphanage in Thailand. My new project is to do a third video and article about him, following his progress. Through the consistency of focusing on a particular person, I am putting a face on the war in Burma. The struggle he faces now, as an undocumented refugee in Thailand, is one that effects millions of Burmese ethnics. His life is at times brutal, but he hasn’t given up hope for a bright future for himself, returning to help develop a free and democratic Burma.

 

Unfortunately, for security reasons, I have had to change his name. The project and videos will now be called Hsai Tai Yai.
In 2007, a glass sculptor, named Oben Abright, asked me to take him into Burma, into the war zone. He took photos of several of the Shan and later turned them into large glass sculptures which are being shown in New York next month. Hsai Tai Yai is one of the featured pieces and stories.

 

Oben’s book, about the Burma related art show, will be published soon. It includes a foreword written by me. Below is the short paragraph about Hsai Tai Yai.

 

I have also attached a much longer article that I wrote about the Hsai Tai Yai video project.

 

“One of the most moving stories was that of a 20 year old Shan soldier, named Hsai Tai Yai. He was about ten years old when the SPDC soldiers burned his village and killed his family. He escaped to the jungle and was rescued by Shan monks who hid him in a monastery in Thailand, till he was old enough to shed his monk’s robes and join the Shan army. After several years of military service, fighting against the Burmese junta, he heard a rumor his mother was still alive. He cast off his military uniform, shaved his head, and became a monk again, so he could sneak back into Thailand and look for his mother. In Thailand, he became a volunteer at Shan orphanage, giving love to children whose families were murdered by the SPDC. Monk, soldier, monk, orphan, aid worker, tortured soul, survivor, Hsai Tai Yai is an inspiration.”

 

When I finish this current Burma project, I will head to Cambodia.

 

Project 2: Undocumented Vietnamese in Cambodia

 

Recently, I met a faith-based aid worker who iwas studying Vietnamese with me, at the university in Saigon, so that she can go and help a group of undocumented Vietnamese in Cambodia.

 

I actually did a story about the Vietnamese community on Tonle Sap Lake, in Siem Reap, four years ago. But I didn’t understand, at that time, how dire the situation was for this massive Vietnamese community, numbering in the thousands of families. These people were denied citizenship by both Cambodia and Vietnam. In Cambodia they are abused and robbed by local officials, and they have almost no future. Their children are not even allowed to attend government schools. If they tried to return to Vietnam they would be arrested.

 

It is a terrible situation, people caught in limbo. They just live on their boats, on the lake, in abject poverty, waiting, and hopeless. I want to go there and do a story and possibly a video about them. Unlike the Shan, in Burma, these people are accessible to UN or other aid workers who would care to go there and help them or to help them resettle in another country.

 

My plan is to fly from Saigon to Siem Reap and spend about a week gathering my story about the Vietnamese refugees. I will be on the boats, doing interviews, also meeting with the aid workers who have a good handle on the situation. Most of these Vietnamese are Catholic, so I will also be interviewing the Priest and learning everything I can.

 

I will post the articles on the internet and give them, free of charge, to a number of magazines and website, and offer them, free of charge to any website or organization that wants them. (I may also offer a single story to the South East Asia Globe, but I am confident that I will be able to place the story in at least twenty or more media.)

 

From Siem Reap, I will fly back to Phnom Penh, follow up on a story there, and then fly to Bangkok. From Bangkok, I will proceed to Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand, to start gathering information on my Burma stories. I will be doing as many Burma stories as I can, and also following up on other aid projects, to help get the word out. I will meet Hsai Tai Yai in Chiang Mai and he will accompany me to other points on the Burma border, to follow up on Shan orphans he has been working on.

 

The whole trip will probably take about a month. I need financial support for the project because, as I said I will be giving most of the stories away for free, in order to insure that they get published immediately.

Antonio

 

To support the project you can donate through the paypal link on my

website, www.speakingadventure.com or by direct transfer into my bank

account.

 

 

Bank Name: Bangkok Bank

Name on Account: Scott Antonio Graceffo

 

Swift Code: BKKBTHBK

Acct Number 251-4-58189-7

 

Bangkok Bank

Thaphae Branch Chiang Mai

 

53-59 Thapae Road

Tambon Changklan

 

A. Muang Chiang Mai 50100

Tel: (053)-282100-2

 

 

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