Detta är förmodligen det allra viktigaste inlägget jag kommer att publicera i denna blogg. Det handlar om mina studenter. Det är mina studenters egna ord, om sig själva och om sina liv.
Ofta förundras jag av dem. Många är i 20-årsåldern men har ändå fler exceptionella livserfarenheter bakom sig än vad de flesta 80-åringar i Sverige har. Samtidigt rycker de oftast bara på axlarna när de delar sina erfarenheter med mig. De har förlikat sig med tanken att det är så här det är i Burma. Inte bara för dem, utan för de flesta. De är inga undantag, händelserna i deras liv är inte olik de flesta andras upplevelser. De är bara ytterligare några människor som bevittnat den burmesiska militärregimens brutala våld… ytterligare några överlevare i ett krig som står i medieskugga.
För det är så det är. Konflikten (eller, egentligen är de flera till antalet) har pågått så länge i Burma att den sällan föräras ens minsta lilla notis i de största tidningarna. Insamlingskampanjer fokuserar på akuta naturkatastrofer eller på insatser som plötsligt blivit ”trendiga” att stötta (som exempel kan nämnas det massiva stödet till insatser för att bekämpa sexuellt våld i krig, inte minst i Demokratiska Republiken Kongo; särskilt efter att FN:s säkerhetsråd antagit ett flertal resolutioner kring ämnet under de senaste åren, varav en möjliggjorde instiftandet av en ny FN-tjänst – särskild representant för frågor som rör sexuellt våld i krig – som först tillsattes av en svensk före detta S-politiker, Margot Wallström). Jag säger inte att dessa insatser inte behövs. Tvärtom är de ofta väldigt lovvärda. Men, som jag ser det är det farligt när det går ”trender” inom biståndet. Världens fattiga och utsatta i de bortglömda konfliktområdena försvinner inte från jordens yta bara för att vi stänger våra ögon eller vänder bort våra huvuden. Det borde vara möjligt att fördela biståndet till såväl akuta naturkatastrofer som till långvarigt och strukturellt förändringsarbete och fredsbyggande (vilket är vad som krävs, bland annat, i DR Kongo) och till negligerade konfliktområden som sedan länge klassats som medialt ”osexiga”. Personligen är jag emot den nuvarande kursen som det svenska biståndet följer; antalet samarbetsländer ska bantas ned och vissa typer av insatser (exempelvis anti-korruptionsarbete) ska prioriteras. Jag förstår att Sverige bara följer allmänna strömningar inom det globala (eller, åtminstone det europeiska/västerländska) biståndet, och att det verkligen är svårt att leverera ett effektivt bistånd om utvecklingssamarbetena blir för fragmenterade. Koordineringen och resultatuppföljningen samt mycket annat blir svårare att handskas med. Samtidigt får jag upp en bild i huvudet; en bild på en graffitimålning i Stockholms utemiljö (olaglig så klart, eftersom Stockholms stad har en så kallad ”nolltolerans” mot ”klotter” men samtidigt har upplåtit hela Drottninggatan åt Strindbergs ihåliga svammel). Åker man med den gröna tunnelbanelinjens tåg från Alvik till Stora Mossen kan man under tågrälsen se en graffitimålning med texten ”Bara döda fiskar flyter med strömmen”. Och jag tänker, att om Sveriges regering verkligen vill, så kan den gå emot den rådande trenden att snöra åt biståndet. Regeringen kan gå emot den rådande trenden att se på olika samarbetsländer som ”trendiga” eller ”otrendiga” att skänka bistånd till. Och jag tänker, att om journalisterna bara ville, så skulle de kunna bryta Burmas medieskugga. För det är i skydd av mörkret som monstren växer sig stora.
Ett möjligt sätt att rapportera om ett slutet land som Burma är att vända sig till dem som faktiskt lyckats ta sig ut ur den hermetiska bubbla som Burma idag utgör. Istället för att lyssna till departement och ministrar (som tycker att det är okej att köpa svenskt konstglas för biståndspengarna), så lyssna till folket.
Ibland måste man rensa upp i den omgivande kakafonin och verkligen lyssna väldigt, väldigt noga. För det är inte alla motstånd som basuneras ut i stridsrop och kulspruteregn. Det finns också många vardagliga sätt att göra motstånd på. Sätt som sällan hörs eller uppmärksammas. Motstånd som hamnar i medieskugga och aldrig i historieböckerna.
Men det vill jag, och än mer mina studenter, ändra på. Finns det inget intresse för alla dessa tusentals burmesiska vittnen – överlevare – ska uppmärksammas i någon av alla dessa tusentals historieböcker som skrivs så får vi helt enkelt skriva vår egen historiebok. Det är också ett av de största projekten mina studenter snart kommer att ta sig an. Resultatet hoppas jag kunna publicera här på bloggen.
Men innan dess har jag bett dem om lov att få återberätta delar av de historier de redan delgivit mig sedan jag blev deras lärare. Nästan varje vecka sedan de påbörjade sin utbildning i april i år har de skrivit dagbok om sina känslor, minnen, erfarenheter, hopp och drömmar. De har fortsatt att göra det sedan jag kom hit i augusti och tog över rollen som deras primära lärare, men det var inte förrän i förrgår som jag verkligen fick tid nog för att läsa alla deras dagboksinlägg, från april till nutid. Och jag måste erkänna att det var kämpigt att läsa deras ord. Jag fick behärska mig för att hålla tillbaka tårarna.
Samtidigt tänker jag, att om det är så här jag reagerar, hur är det då inte för dem? Hur känns det att gå omkring och bära på allt det här som mina studenter faktiskt bär på?
En av mina studenter var väldigt lågmäld i klassrummet häromdagen. När jag frågade henne om anledningen ryckte hon som de flesta andra på axlarna. Efter några trevande försök från min sida att få fram någon som helst ledtråd så berättade hon att hon saknade sin mamma. Jag frågade då henne om hon inte hade kontakt med sin mamma. Och hon svarade mig: ”Nej, för vi har varken telefoner eller internet i min hemby”. Helt ställd visste jag inte vad jag skulle säga. När jag sedan läste hennes äldre dagboksinlägg fick jag reda på att hennes mamma är ensamstående och sjuk och att hon själv hade tagit om hand om sin mamma innan hon påbörjade utbildningen här i Mae Sot. Hon är arton år, har bara avklarat motsvarande högstadiet i skolan och är den enda människa hennes mamma kan förlita sig på. När jag läste detta förstod jag hur motstridiga hennes känslor måste vara över att vara här i Thailand. Å ena sidan vill hon fånga den chans hon fått och utbilda sig vidare för att kunna uppfylla sina drömmar, å andra sidan känner hon av en plikt att vårda sin sjuka mamma.
Vem som helst i den situationen hade blivit knäpp. Svårlösta dilemman tär, helt enkelt. Men ibland tycks det mig som att mina studenter är oberörda. Åtminstone utåt. Men i hemlighet kapslar de in sina tårar, sparar dem till senare.
Hur många svårigheter de än har stått ut med i sina liv så kan de fortfarande inte andas ut. De härdar ut längs med den snåriga vägen, håller sig stoiskt lugna, tack vare en övertygelse om att vägen ändå leder framåt, uppåt och utåt. Ändhållplatsen alla strävar efter att nå heter Frihet. Men för att komma dit krävs att man kämpar. Och i kampen kommer alla inkapslade tårar komma väl till pass.
Nedan följer några meddelanden på vägen.
”I attend a training on the SYCB now. I can talk English now […]. In my organization, they really need me. So when this training has finished they want me to come back in the organization. But my mother also wants me to attend the medicine school and she wants me to live beside her. Because there is no one living beside my mother and we haven’t got a doctor in my village. But I’m not interested in medicine. I’m really interested in politics and I want to become a political leader. Because the SPDC they killed my lovely father and my villagers. At the time, I was three months old. All of this I have heard from my mother. So, sometimes when I think about this I’m really disaffected and I feel very hurt. So I have decided to finish this training. When this training is finished I will go back to my organization and whichever duty they will order me to do I will help them readily. I think they will likely give me a duty in the movement back in Burma. I want to do this, but my mother doesn’t know. [—] If she knew about this, she wouldn’t consent. So, I didn’t tell her. I have decided that when I have finished the training, I will provide for my mother even though I am away from her. […] I really love my mother in my heart”.
”Blue Sky”, 18 år
”I want to tell about my father. He is fifty-six years old now. But he looks younger than his age. [—] He loves us all equally. He never scolds or beats us in anger. He always advises us with kind words. He also explains to us patiently what is right and what is wrong. Actually, he is a kind person and participant of the community. One of the leaders in the village. But now I feel sad because he has some problems with his health. He used drugs to cure his disease. After that he continued using drugs and he also sold opium. In May 2011, he was arrested by the police. At the time, I was in Singapore. Now he is in jail in Lashio and he will be imprisoned for eleven years. That is why I couldn’t continue to work in Singapore, so I came back to my home. All of my sisters had got married. I was the only one left to support our family. Now it was only me and my mother at home. Also, when my father stayed in jail, we had to support him. During the process of his case, we lost 50 million kyat, because we had to pay the police. I am very sorry for my father, because I can’t do anything for him and I can’t solve his problems. I don’t know what I should do? [—] I can’t decide in my mind. Should I stay at home and support my parents or should I continue to participate in politics?”
”Sky Ta’ang”, 24 år
”In my childhood, I only lived together with my grandmother because my father is a General of the Kachin independence army and my mother also taught children in the Kachin army. I hate war, since in my childhood I couldn’t live with my father; he had to live with the Kachin army. [—] My father always lived in the forest […]. I was born in 1991, and at the time, the Kachin army and the government were fighting. When the war temporarily stopped, I was sent to live with my grandmother. [—] My mother often came to see me but I never met my father in my childhood. Because my father was really busy, he had to prepare for a ceasefire. [—] Fortunately, in 1994, the Burmese army and the Kachin army reached a ceasefire agreement. Later, when they stopped fighting, I met my father during summer, in the Kachin army. I was happy […] with my father. But when the school opened, I had to go back to my town. [—] When I attended school, I wanted to meet my father again, but I didn’t meet him until I had passed high school. [—] In 2007, I passed high school, so I met and lived together with my father for five years. But I had to attend university so I left my father’s place. In my life I have never stayed with my father a long time. In 2008, my father took a break from his job because he had not a good health, but he stayed in Kachin territories because otherwise the Burmese military government could arrest him. [—] Unfortunately, my father died in February this year. In the same day my father died, I also graduated from the University in the Kachin State. I felt unlucky at that time, because the leaders of the Kachin army and the officials couldn’t come to my home town because at the time, the Kachin and the Burmese military were fighting and involved in a deep conflict. [—] In April, I left my home town to attend the training at the SYCB. I miss my father, but I control my mind. My father is my sunshine, my only sunshine. When I felt depressed, he gave me advice about how to solve my problems. [—] Openly I say, now I really miss my father”.
”Jinghpaw_Shayi”, 21 år
”I experienced love for the first time when I was eighteen years old, when I attended the University. That University’s name is Mawlamyine University, in the Mon State. I met him in my first year. He was my first love. He is a Mon singer. He looked handsome in my eyes. He and me went to the pagoda and played together in the waterfall but we did not live together. I stayed in Mawlamyine with my sister. When we had holidays during Saturdays and Sundays, my love and I called our friends and went to the pagoda together. When I attended the third year in the Mawlamyine University his and my love ended. When my sister and my parents found out, they didn’t let me be with him. But I miss him, because he was my first love. Now he continues as a Mon singer. I would like to meet him in my dream. Or one day.”
”Cherrymiss”, 22 år
”I want to love only one person in my life. In practice, it has not become like that for me. Because I met a faithless person last year and then my heart was broken. I really did love him but he only loved me a little. I also don’t love him now. He doesn’t have a good moral. At first, I didn’t know him well. He liked drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating betels and playing cards. I don’t like his moral, but at that time I could forgive him. [—] Now, I can forgive him in my heart but I can’t forgive him in my mind. Because he deceived me and he had another girl that I didn’t know about. When I got to know about it, I hated him very much and I felt hurt in my heart. [—] When I asked him about the other girl, he didn’t admit his sin and he never apologized. So, I was upset with him. [—] I haven’t contacted him still today. I think I will really fall in love with another one. But, actually, I am afraid of love. I don’t want to have my feelings hurt again. So, I don’t believe in my feelings. I think, love is like a fire, for me.”
”Arakan girl”, 23 år
”Except from the Lord, the most important person is my mother. If my mother wasn’t in the world, I wouldn’t have been born. When I was born, my mother suffered a lot, because all of my siblings were born in her youth but when I was born my mother was around 45 years. [—] After I was born, I was often sick. So during my childhood, she didn’t get enough sleep. [—] But I know how much she loved me. For all my siblings during their childhoods, she hired babysitters, like maids, but when I was a child, she kept me for herself. [—] When I started the primary school, she always sent me to and picked me up from school. It was her responsibility when I was a child. At the time, she only put her shop staff in her clothing shop. If someone else sent me to school it was OK, but she always did it and she thought it was like her responsibility. [—] If my mother visited our neighbours or relatives for a moment, I always cried until she arrived. [—] If she had an appointment, she went out when I attended school. In weekends and holidays, I always stayed with her. [—] She always hired a special teacher for me in my home. [—] And also, she taught me about Christianity. [—] She always taught all of my siblings and me how much important wisdom, knowledge and religion are. [—] My father is a business man. He always earned enough money but my mother also ran a business; she opened a clothing shop. So, my family never faced destitution. [—] After I finished primary school, she sent me to Mandalay city. She sent me to the best school. But our country’s education system is weak. I did not get enough wisdom and knowledge. [—] I saw much discrimination in the University. Especially when I joined my organization, I saw that poor people never got any favouritism. I have always got favouritism but I could now understand discrimination. So I became interested in politics and I always thought about how to solve this problem and I wanted to destroy discrimination.”
”Mountain orchid Coco”, 23 år
”In my home town a lot of young people didn’t get any education. Some young people have family problems, some young people don’t know the value of education and instead they use drugs. So, a lot of young people are uneducated in my home town. Some rich people can study in other countries. Because our country’s education system is very bad [—]. Also, the education is worse in rural areas than in urban areas. It is very difficult for poor people and people in rural areas to study and get educated. When I studied, we had two big problems. The school fee was very high, especially for poor people. For example, if a family had five children, their parents would be unable to send their children to school; therefore, in the village, there were few students who could go to school. In my school, there was a lot of discrimination [—]. Also the teachers discriminated against the students, on grounds such as religion, nationality, or if you were poor or rich. So, I was not happy to attend school […]. [—] If we had education, our nation would develop […]. But we don’t know the advantages of education since we don’t have education ourselves. So, the parents don’t encourage their children to attend school, because they haven’t got any jobs even if they have finished school. I would like to suggest the government to improve the education system in Burma, especially in the rural areas, and to end the discrimination between the students and teachers, poor and rich families. Then to also end the corrupt school fees. I would like the teachers to teach the students in the best ways at the schools, as opposite to the use of tutors at home today. It is very difficult for the poor students to get enough education because they cannot pay a lot of money for the tutor fees.”
”Miss_Thadou_Kuki”, 23 år
”In Burma, some villages grow rice, tea and other crops. The people living in the mountains grow rice and vegetables in June and July. They are rainy months. These months it grows good. It is the months when we cut trees and the grass and we grow vegetables and fruit. [—] Later, Kachin farmers grow only rice. It grows between September to October. We need enough water in the paddy fields for the vegetables to grow good. When it grows, we never mix it with manure. Because we have good natural manure and the soil is fertile. [—] The Chinese come with meat, but we don’t eat their food. Because in the Chinese food, they have added chemical colours. It is very sweet […]. Sometimes, people who have eaten this food have died. [—] Today, many don’t do agriculture any longer. Because the fighting between the military government and the Kachin army has continued. [—] The military government sell land to the Chinese government and to foreign companies. Also, some Kachin people live in the mountainous areas sold to the Chinese government, so they can’t eat native vegetables. The military government uses guns and automatic weapons when fighting the Kachin army. So when we eat Chinese food we become ill, get health problems or even die.”
”Rori”, 24 år
”When I lived in a small village I was happy. Because in the village we had beautiful nature, fresh air, high mountains and streams. Sometimes when I had free time, I visited the forest with my friends and there we found edible leaves. It was a happy time for me. But in the village we didn’t have any high education or hospitals. If we wanted to go to the University or the hospital, we went to the city. In the city, education and economy are better and it is easier to travel than in the village. I liked that. But in the city, you need money to buy all of the things. In the village, we can grow vegetables, so we don’t have to buy them with money. We can get it on the farms. The village is best for my health and my peace of mind and the city is best for my education and so I can improve my experiences”.
”Miss Dahlia”, 23 år
”I feel happy to attend the training at the SYCB, because it is development women action. We are always shy in our country. We never talk about anything with men or with other people. I guess, in the SYCB internship, we will get knowledge, experience and other things. Here I am living with people from different ethnic groups. I didn’t know about their culture, the lives of people from the Arakan State… [—] We have various ideas in the class. We are sharing with each other our visions in different questions. I think the Leadership and Management Programme includes a lot of subjects, such as Burmese issues, gender equality, democracy, English […]. They are important things for me […]. Now I am living as a political adept. I am really happy.”
”Pa Oh Hero”,19 år
”My future plan is to become a woman leader and teacher in my Karen community. Also, I want to find a lot of money and build schools, orphanages and clinics in my Karen community. Because in my community, there are a lot of children who have become orphans and they don’t get the chance to go to school. They also have to hide all their lives in the jungle. Also, they always move to many places because of the civil war. We all Karen women also suffer from bad health, family problems, oppression etc. In my community, there are not only orphans but also many widows who have to survive despite many problems. I feel really sad for them. Our people have become homeless, refugees or died in the jungle because of the war. So, I really hate it. In the future, I don’t want any war in my community or in any other ethnic state or in Burma. Before, I thought that after I have graduated from school I will go to the inside of Burma and work for my people. Also, I will start a project with my friends and support our sisters and brothers who live in the jungle and in the Eastern Karen mountain villages so they can go to school and study. Last year, all final students managed projects and went to the Karen State when we were inside of Burma. We taught new generations and learned about their lives from them. I got many life experiences from them. Also, I felt pity for them and wanted to provide for their needs and wants. Therefore, we all final students founded the Old Students Association group and managed a project to go to the Karen State again. Maybe we will go there in April 2013. Now we are still looking for donors among the Karen people who are living in third countries and among our Karen leaders. I hope, that after I have finished this LMP training, I will work with my Old Students Association group and my mother organisation KYO. Then, I will have a small business and export our Karen traditional clothes to third countries. Because there are a lot of Karen people living in third countries and they also want to wear their culture’s clothes. So they always order clothes from here. That’s why I got this idea to export our Karen clothes and I have already discussed with my friends to do that. We think, that if we first will get money from this small business and donors, we will build schools in the Karen State. We have planned this project for the next five years. We hope we can success in the next five years.”
”Dolphin”, 22 år
”I have a dream, that one day I will see Burma get democracy and to become a federal union. And all ethnic people in Burma will get freedom. If they get freedom, they can build peace, love and unity between themselves. I have a dream, that all ethnic people can share their different cultures and join together and make a better Burma. I have a dream, that one day there will be no more war, no poor, no rich and no sorrow. And people from different countries will love each other and help each other as brothers and sisters. I have a dream, that not only Burma, but all countries, will be released from discrimination.”
”Sky Lover Virus”, 20 år