Mae Sot, Little Burma in Thailand, May 2011 – Myat Thu usually does not spend too much time in the Aiya cafè, so I was happy to meet him there ‘by chance’, even before any trial to contact him… Though he surely had his plans what to do, he stayed practically as long as I listened to and put questions, in an interesting conversation.
Myat Thu is in his middle age, with Burmese and Shan ethnic roots, borned in the delta of Irrawaddy. Studied physics, however could not finished. The revolutionary year 1988 he spent in his homeland, in the delta. At that time he decided to join the army of the ABFSU (All Burma Federation of Student Unions), though he had been a Buddhist. He says under this army he fought with Mara, the tempter. He confesses there was a kind of hatred and he killed some people within army fights, but not under any other occasion.
Today, he is still engaged however his focus has shifted. His most vivid project is in Mae Sot well-established Aiya Cafè & Restaurant which he runs with his woman. They somehow employ Burmese, mostly young, nice men. Looking at their faces, it seems some gentlemen are still living.
However, Myat Thu has different view on it. When I ask him, he feels, Burma is not prepared for democracy yet. By his experience, he recognizes that young generation did not grow up in democracy, it seems they “do not have it under the skin”. He even claims, they are not well grown and Buddhist attitude is weakening. He suggests, they need to learn more, including to listen to. Such is the view of their employer and also supporter at that time. Anyway, the Aiya is not the only project of Myat Thu. The money made there is used to sponsor other needed things.
In 2008, via monks, they helped the people in the region where Mya Thu is originally from. People there were among those affected by the cyclone Nargis.
It has been already three years, since Myat Thu opened a school for Burmese children, with Burmese teachers. So perhaps some good attitudes might be passed down from those experienced on the young generation there.
It is non-residential type of school; with capacity about 60 kids. Being open practically every day, children of age three to thirteen can learn English, Thai, Burmese, and Maths there, Myat Thu explains. Teachers get some small financial contribution, however it is not that money which would be sufficient motivation to teach, nor sufficient amount to live on in standard way, even in relatively cheap Mae Sot.
During our conversation I found out that Myat Thu was just going to finish the book relating his story; planned to be published soon. It is based on interviews with the (co-)author – the same as in case of Thiha Yarzar’s story. I hope we will know soon.
Mae Sot, Thailand, May 2011.