As a child, I lived in Thonze Town, Thar Yar Wa De Township, Bago Division in Myanmar. My parents were U Ba Khai and Daw Ngwe Shin. I have three sisters and two brothers. When I was five years old, I started school. In school I learned and spoke Burmese because it was the language of Myanmar. I was happy because I played together with many friends.
I liked vegetables, meat, fish, mango, bananas, and durian. My hobby was jumping rope. I liked the rainy season because I would run in the road and get completely wet. We didn’t need to shower later because we were clean. I was very happy. When I was 22 years old, I got married in an arranged marriage.
I had two sons, Nanda and Wanna. Then my husband protested against the government because we didn’t have religious freedom. In Myanmar, people must be Buddhist. The government put all the Muslim leaders in jail. Thar Yar Wa Dei was big and many Muslims went to jail. In August 1979, my husband died in jail. My sons grew up. When Wanna was 19 he went to Malaysia and got a job. He came back to Myanmar in 2000 and got married. They had a son and then moved to Malaysia again. Nanda worked on a ship that went to Australia. He got refugee status in Australia. Now he is a citizen.
Wanna and his wife got jobs in Malaysia, but they were not recognized as refugees and had to bribe the police to keep working. The refugee camp said, “If you are Muslim, go earn your food. You can,” but it was illegal. I lived in Malaysia with Wanna and his family for five years. We applied to go to Australia because Nanda was already there but Australia had too many refugees coming by boat. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) said we could apply to go to Canada. We did and got accepted. On November 6th, 2013, at nine PM, our plane came from Malaysia to Canada. My family didn’t sleep because it was our first time on a plane and we were interested. We looked out the window. The electric lights were colourful. The view was very beautiful. In the morning we arrived at the Thailand airport and stayed there for 30 minutes. Then, we went to Germany on a different plane. We were in Germany for one hour.I went to wash my hands, but the water I turned on was very hot. In Myanmar and Malaysia, we only had one temperature. It was not too cold but not hot. I shouted. A German woman spoke to me. I didn’t understand, but she could tell I scalded my fingers. She showed me how to turn on the taps to mix the hot and cold water. She was kind. We changed to a Canadian airplane.
It had a maple leaf on it. There were little computer screens on the back of every seat. Each person could watch a different show. Even the preschooler could watch her own cartoons. Finally, we got to Regina and Haley met us. She brought us by car to Moose Jaw and showed us our room at the Travel Lodge. It was November 7th, 2013. We saw snow for the first time and had many things to learn, but now we are okay.