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Ta Nay Gay

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Ta Nay Gay was born in Burma. Her family faced restrictions and violence from the Burmese military because they are Karen. Her family left the country for Thailaind in 2006, where they lived in a refugee camp until 2012, when they were resettled in Minnesota. She has four sisters and two brothers.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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Ta Nay Gay Transcription

My name is Ta Nay Gay. When I was about five years old and I lived in Burma, the Burmese soldiers didn't give our Karen people the chance to go outside, but even more than that, we did not have enough food so we ate our stored food like rice, fish paste, and vegetables. At that time, our family had only one cow, but the Burmese soldiers didn't let us go out and give our animals food to eat. Finally, my mom decided to risk her life and go out and she took me with her to feed her little cow some grass because it needed food to eat. Suddenly, the soldiers saw my mom met and they were asking my mom, “Where is your village chief?” But my mom didn't understand that because they spoke Burmese instead of Karen. I thought they will kill my mom because she didn't speak Burmese. My aunt who lived near to us heard me crying then she came to our house and she saw that the soldiers were all around me and my mom. They saw my aunt and asked her a question. Then my mom saw they were distracted and ran away and was free from being killed by the Burmese soldiers’ hands. Even after that my cow did not survive. My dad was very afraid and he didn't want to live in Burma anymore, so in 2006, we moved to a refugee camp in Thailand.

When we lived in the refugee camp we got free rice and other food too. But we did not have enough money to buy what we wanted. My parents worked every day to financially support our family. My father always had to sneak out and climb over the mountains that surrounded our camps in order to find daily jobs with local Thai people even though it was illegal. The payment was not good but my father is a persistent, hard worker. On the other hand, my mother always stayed home and weaved Karen traditional costumes or clothes and made a little money by weaving. We had difficult experiences, but were still alive and we have to give thanks to the Lord.

At that time, the American government had opened its doors for those who lived in refugee camp to immigrate to America. In 2012, we applied for the resettlement in the U.S. and we were accepted. When our family arrived in Minnesota on September 29, 2013, our family didn't know anybody. We stayed in the house and cried every day. At last, now that I have been in Minnesota for almost a year and a half, I know more Karen people and I don’t feel like crying anymore. I am glad that I immigrated to America. I have opportunities to learn a lot and I have a great school. I am very grateful that my family gets to live happily in this country. I have to believe that everything will go well while we are alive.