Break Dancing to Beat the Junta: Shan Refugees use Hip Hop as a positive outlet for their creative energies, grief and anger.

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

By Antonio Graceffo

One of my Shan friends, who we will call Hsai Tai Yai for security reasons, escaped from the war zone in Burma and made it to Thailand, where he managed to complete two one-year colleges. Now, he is living in a refugee camp, working as a schoolteacher, helping other young people from Shan State to learn English and obtain basic education, in the hopes that they can also win a scholarship to college.

In addition to the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi every time I see Hsai Tai Yai, he asks me about bodybuilding. Once, when we were working together in the jungle, he said to me, “I wish my body is strong like you, but when I am young, I am malnutrition.” His words were at once, innocent and heartbreaking. Having education also means he is aware of what has been stolen from him. Even his height and weight were stunted by the junta. Thank God his spirit can’t be contained.

When he accepted the position as teacher, he immediately set about building a gym for the refugee boys. Here he is, in his own, homemade youtube video, with some of the young refugees, breaking in their new gym.

with weights and equip[ment made of bamboo and concrete, it looks more like Gilligan’s Island than Hollywood Fitness, but for these boys, it is both an outlet for the stress of having seen their families murdered, and a connection with the West, a place called America that comes to them in small, inaccurate glimpses through TV and movies; America, a land that they admire, but which has offered no formal support for the millions of displaced and suffering ethnic people of Burma.

When the Burmese army burned his village, Hsai Tai Yai lost everyone and everything he had ever known. He was only ten years old when monks took him to Thailand and taught him Thai language. When he reached military age, the Thai police said he had to return to Shan State, where he survived several years in the war zone. Eventually, he made it back to Thailand, as a migrant worker, living in a makeshift camp, with other Shan men, doing day labor, barely surviving.

Life has never been easy for Hsai Tai Yai, but his internal drive is so strong, that he hasn’t quit or become bitter. Instead of picking up a gun and joining the rebels, he has decided the best way to fight back against the generals who run Burma is to educate himself and help to educate as many Shan young people as he can.

Hsai Tai Yai is a true hero of the war in Burma.

Today, he sent me a message, asking if I could help him build a B-Boy playground. I thought he meant a basketball court, but he meant a place for the Shan refugee boys to practice break dancing.

In the Shan college  Hsai Tai Yai attended, one of the skills the boys were taught was proposal writing. I have attached his formal proposal, but the bottom line is, the boys need 8,845.00 THB or $279.375 USD. If you wish to contribute, you can donate money directly, through the bank account info, at the end of the proposal. If additional monies are received, they will be used for health and hygiene items, as well as food, clothing, and school supplies for the refugees.

From my own experience, these refugee schools do the absolute best they can to feed the kids, but sometimes they can only provide two very basic meals per day. So, additional pocket money allows the kids to buy instant noodles or if they are lucky, some canned meat. The kids also need hygiene items like soap, toothpaste, shampoo, flip flops, and basic living supplies which the camps can’t always provide.

If you can help, it would be a real blessing. And I would consider it a direct favor to me, because these Shan kids, particularly Hsai Tai Yai, mean a lot to me.

Thank you in advance for your kindness. Also, please read the proposal because I have never read a truer document in my life.

Executive summary:

Koung Jor camp is a camp which is located on Thai Burmese border Wiang Hang district, Chiang Mai province Thailand. The camp was established in 2003 and it population is over 600. At the moment, Koung Jor camp has lack of playground for the children that they can enjoy in their free time. The total of the children in koung Jor camp is over 150 and 50 are teenagers who request to have B-boy playground dancing. There are 50 teenagers who are interested in B-boy dancing and 20 have strong potential in this dance and they propose a playground for several times but the camp is unable to build because there are no construction materials. The camp leader is happy with this project so he gives 10 meters square for the B-boy playground. The total amount of the budget is 8,845 Thai baht.

Background information and problem statement:

Koung Jor camp is a camp which is located on Thai-Burmese border Wiang Hang district, Chiang Mai province. The camp was established in 2003 and its population is over 600 and the camp has lack of construction materials to build playground for the children. There are 50 teenagers who are interested in B-Boy dancing and 20 teenagers have good basic in B-boy dancing.  The children in Koung Jor camp are really like and enjoy B-boy dancing and their talents are very capable. According to an interview with 20 boys and 5 girls said that they want to have a B-boy playground dancing for practicing. Some of them have very good basic B-boy dancing by learning from themselves by watching TV or watching from video clips. They organize themselves in a group for B-boy dancing and if the community has party or ceremony they come up and show and it attracts young people and many young teenagers are really enjoy the B-boy dancing as it is very new for them. The teenagers propose this B-boy playground dancing to the community leaders for many times but the community is unable to build for them as the camp has lack of construction materials. Every day evening after their school, they come up together and practice the dance. The problem of the ground is muddy in rainy season and dusty in cold and hot season. Moreover, the ground where they do practicing is not flat and not smooth for them and it can create injuries or bruise for them. Therefore, after they have finished practicing they got dirty and sometimes they got injuries as they the ground is not good and safe.

Statement of need:

 There are 130 teenagers in Koung Jor camp who have lack of playground activity. According to 130 teenagers said they do not have playground for doing any exercise during their holiday or when the school is off. The camp has one swing and seesaw playground but this one is only for small children and this playground is not able to use for B-boy dancing. Due to inadequate playground for teenagers in Koung Jor camp the teenagers who have high capability cannot be improved. 10 boys who are top B- boy dancing said that if they have good playground, good speaker and coach they could do the dance better. To solve this issue, the B-boy playground can be constructed beside the soccer field near the children swing playground.


Our goal of building B-boy playground dancing is to construct good and safe area for the 50 children in Koung Jor camp for them to have fun and to be happy.


Our objective of building B-boy playground dancing is to create good, smooth and safety playground for the 50 teenagers who are addicted and motivated in B-boy dancing in Koung Jor camp by building concrete floor in Koung Jor Shan camp.


After our project has accomplished 50 teenagers and 20 people who have basic B-boy dancing will be improved and after school of they will have good and safety playground to practice the B-boy dancing.   

Work plan:

Our project will be finished in two days. The first day we will collect all the materials that we need and ask for construction worker who how to build concrete floor and the second day we will implement the project.

Monitoring and evaluation:

 After two days our project has completed, we will check to make sure that the concrete has no cracks, it dry enough and smoothly. Before using the playground we will give instruction for them how to use the ground and rules to be sustained. We will evaluate the project by asking and observing to the teenagers.


The playground will be sustained if the teenagers take good care if and using it properly and we will tell them how to take care of it. For the musical instrument and lights we will give them the instruction as well how to use them in a correct way and one person will be the in charge to clean take good care of the musical instrument for the B-boy dance.


There is one teacher who volunteers to a coach and in charge for the B-boy dancing and another teacher will be assistant and take care of the materials of B-boy dance.

Main task of the coach:

  • Create activity and schedule for his students
  • Find new method that can improve the activity
  • Organize students and create team for them
  • Monitoring by looking at them while they are practicing B-boy
    • Take care of the playground
    • Before the dance, he will arrange for music, speaker and light
    • Every time after the dance has done will collect the material and keep them in a safe place
    • Check the objects which one is broken or which one is worked

Main task of the coach assistant:

Budget log frame:





Cost per unit


1. cement





2. sand


Big truck



3 rocks


Big truck



4. brick





5. speaker





6. CD player





7. Spray





8. Wire





9. Pillar for light





10. Transportation





11. worker ( who knows about construction )





12. metal ( Number. 2 )





13. switch





14. Future board





15 Light bulb





Total amount cost in Thai baht


Contact person:

  1. Name                    Tun yee Mooling


Phone:                                 +66 0904781158

  1. 2.        Second contact person:

Name               Panya last name Boonsee


Phone:                 +66 0861165898


Banking Account: 




ACCOUNT NO. 547-0-29119-7

ACCOUNT NAME: MR. Oo Kham Inn Pann

Head Office:
Krung Thai Bank PCL
35 Sukhumvit Road, Klong Toey Nua Subdistrict, Wattana District,
Bangkok 10110

Tel.: +66 (0) -2255-2222 Fax: +66 (0) -2255-9391-3
Krung Thai Phone : 1551 SWIFT code: KRTHTHBK


Khuang Sing Tower Flr 5, 30/1 Chotana Rd.

Chang Phuak Subdistrict, Maung,

Chiang Mai Province



Telephone: 053-409545-7    Fax: 053-409548


My full name is :  Mr. Oo Kham Inn Pann

Home address

40/1  M.2

T. Piang Luang

A. Wiang Haeng

J.  Chiang Mai 50350


Summary statement:

100 teenagers in Koung Jor camp have lack of playground activity so they cannot improve their B-boy dance. The current playground where they are using now is muddy in rainy season and dusty in cold and hot season. As the teenagers in koung Jor like to dance B-boy dancing their dance would not be improve without good playground and music.  Therefore, we are English volunteered teachers in Koung Jor camp propose this project to help these teenagers out from their need.

We will be very appreciative of your time and your consideration for reading our proposal.

If you have any question please do not hesitate ask.

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