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Dee Paw

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Dee Paw was born in Mae Ka Kee refugee camp in Thailand in 1996. Her family fled the Karen State, Burma in 1995 because of violence. Dee and her family lived in Thai refugee camps, where Dee went to school, until they resettled in St. Paul, MN, in 2013.

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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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My name is Dee Paw. My family escaped from a civil war before I was born. In 1995, the conflict had happened against the Karen state. People and animals got killed, the houses were fired, the plants were broken down by Burmese soldiers. It was very dangerous to continue live there so my parents and older sister packed up their stuff and ran to refugee camp called Mae Ka Kee. They had to walk day and night to reach the camp. My mom had to carry my older sister in her chest all the way. My dad carried the stuff like clothes, a little bit of food, and others. At night, they used a flashlight for seeing. They couldn't light up their flashlight brightly because they were anxious about Burmese soldiers, and if they saw them they would shoot them with a gun. At last, they reached the camp.

After their two years in camp I was born and after my five years, my younger brother was born. The place was unsafe for us so once again, we had to move. In our last camp, we took a car and it drove by a Thai soldiers. I started to learn in No (2) high school since 1st grade and I stopped at 10th grade. In refugee camp, we had to pay in order for us to get to learn. In school, if we didn't wear a uniform, we got hit by the teachers. If we didn't do our homework, we had to run around outside the school buildings, clean the toilet, or blackboard. We had no chance to go outside of the camp to find a job. If the Thai security worker saw us, they caught us and put us in the jail. The food was given by the UNHCR and which included rice, oil, yellow bean, red pepper, fish paste and salt. It was not enough for us. For a job, my mom used to weave clothes, bags and skirts and sell those to people who needed them. My dad worked as a farmer to serve his family. Life in refugee camp was very difficult.

After all, the US government conducted refugee people to move to America. My family started to apply and later on we were accepted to come to US. My family left refugee camp at 2013, July and started our long journey. It was our very first time on an airplane and we disliked the food because it smelled stinky even if it look delicious to others people. When I went to the bathroom I didn't close the door because I worried that the door will lock and I couldn't open it back and I asked my younger brother to wait by the door. We are blessed because every airport that we arrived in these is someone already there to help us to find the right plane so we won't get lost. Lastly, we arrived in St. Paul, MN in August 2013.