A Walk to Remember: the Trek from Myanmar to Malaysia by Foot

Veronica comes from the Chin State in Myanmar. One day years ago, her mother, her sister and brother set out on a trek from Myanmar to Malaysia. The only way they could make it there was by foot. Today, Veronica recalls the walk through the forests of Myanmar.

“When my mother gets too tired, my sister and I take turns carrying my little brother, tying him to our backs with a sarong. Even though he lost weight, he seems heavier by the day. My arms are sore and my legs are tired. It’s easier to walk on the roads. But we don’t do that unless we have to, and even when we do, it’s at night. Whenever possible, we would walk in the forest — to hide from the sun and the bad men.

When my little brother cries at night, my mother rocks him and sings traditional songs from our mountains in the Chin state of Myanmar, the poorest place in our very poor country. My sister and I lie side by side and listen, wiping silent tears from each other’s faces. We learn the songs as well. They are mostly happy songs, or they are meant to be, but they make me sad because they remind me that Myanmar is not our country anymore. We are leaving it behind.

At first we carried everything we could. Now, we have thrown away almost everything. We just have the clothes we wear, some food, and a little money. Our mother says we will have a better life when we reach Malaysia.

We try to keep away from villages and towns. We don’t know who we can trust. We have to be very careful when there are hunters in the forests — they might shoot us by mistake.

Once, hunters found us. They had guns and big knives. They had killed a wild pig and were carrying it, tied to a stick. We couldn’t understand their words. We were very afraid. They made us sit on the ground and would not let us leave…

This walk filled with danger and struggle did indeed lead the family to a big city where they all gained new hope. They’ve made it to Malaysia and will be here temporarily until UNHCR waits for a host country to process their resettlement. But it’s a place where they can breath more freely. Thousands of families like Veronica’s make their way to escape Myanmar. We collected of few of these stories in the new book, “Dawn of a New Sky”. Stories in the book are told by teenage refugees currently living in Malaysia waiting for resettlement. You’’ find the full version of what happened with Veronica and her family and other stories of the Burmese refugees, as well as others from Afghanistan and Somalia. Each story is unique and each story meant to reveal the experiences of real people behind what we hear in media as “Refugee Crises.”

The “Stories From” team is currently running a fundraising campaign to fund the book publication. More than that, we are going to use proceeds from the book sales to help the communities where storytellers come from — Fugee School for Somali Refugees, Pandawas Academy for Afghan, Iranian, Pakistani refugees, and Alliance of the Chin Refugees (Burmese).

Please take a look at our Indiegogo campaign and consider supporting our printing costs by pre-ordering a copy of a book.