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Sorrow in the Land of Smiles: Burmese Refugees in Thailand

Alison Wright | Thailand

This Burmese woman hired someone to bring her with her children over the Thai/Burmese border but he took her money and deserted her. She is now raising eight children in the Burmese camp with no opportunity for them to have healthcare or education. She realizes that she has no way that she will ever make it back to her native country.

It is estimated that over two million Burmese refugees live in Thailand, with a high percentage living on the popular island of Phuket. Behind the expensive hotels and beaches packed with tourists hides a large community of Burmese migrants trying to carve out a living in the fishing industry while living in the filthy slum of Rashada Pier. These Burmese have fled the oppressive militant government of their country and are illegally smuggled over the northern Thai/Burma border by Thai traffickers with the promise of a better life. Many Burmese arrive without proper documentation or have their passports and identity cards stolen and sold by the trafficker. With no identification these migrants are unable to return to Burma. They are bound to their landlords and bosses and are often victims of police bribes. Because of the poor Thai/Burmese relations and loss of identity these migrants are not technically allowed refugee status. This leaves them with no rights to schooling for their children or healthcare for their families. They are forced to live in limbo without a country.

 Alison Wright, a New York based documentary photographer, has spent a career capturing the universal human spirit through her photographs and writing. For many of her editorial and commercial projects, Alison travels to all regions of the globe photographing endangered cultures and people while covering issues concerning the human condition.

Wright was awarded the 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the year as someone who travels with a sense of passion and purpose. Wright is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography, a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award and has photographed/authored nine books. 

On January 2, 2000 Alison’s life was nearly cut short during a horrific bus accident on a remote jungle road in Laos. Wright’s recent memoir, “Learning to Breathe; One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival,” chronicles this inspirational story of survival and years of rehabilitation, and her ongoing determination to recover and continue traveling the world as an intrepid photojournalist. 

 The Good Shepherd

 Alison Wright

website: www.Alisonwright.com

www.Facesofhope.org

Email: info@alisonwright.com

PH: 212-828-6417

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