Stay Htoo Faith Story
St. David's, East Greenbush
The following story was articulated to Father James Brisbin, Rector of St. David's Church in East Greenbush, by Stay Htoo.
Stay Htoo is a 37-year-old wife and mother of three. She is Karen, a member of one of the over 100 ethnic groups that call Myanmar (Burma) home. For more than 50 years, the Burmese government has persecuted a long list of select ethnic groups that, for one reason or another, they have deemed expendable. Members of these ethnic groups have run for their lives across the Burmese border and into Thailand, where they live in refugee camps for years until they are granted resettlement in one of a number of sponsoring countries worldwide.
Stay Htoo speaks five languages and is an asset to the Albany/Rensselaer refugee community. When she is not busy working a more-than-full-time job and raising her three children, she is advocating for the newly arrived refugees, using her language skills and newly acquired experience to help them make their way in their new country.
Although the following words are not exact quotations, the story you are about to read has been written in Stay Htoo's voice, using her words, and with every effort made to record it here as it was told to Fr. Brisbin.
The second time they burned my village I was 14 years old.
We were in school: me and my brothers and sisters. My daddy and ma were working in the fields with the others. We see the soldiers coming and we run; everybody runs in every direction. My parents always tell us, even from when we are very young, "If you see the soldiers come, run as fast as you can and hide in the jungle."
We know the soldiers hate us but nobody know why they hate us, we do nothing. We are farmers. We don't hate no one, we don't hurt no one. But they want to kill us. Even now I still don't understand what we do to make them hate us so much.
So we run. We are so scared. Because we run in all directions I was lost from my family for two weeks. I was looking everywhere in the jungle for them. Finally we find each other and all my family is ok: me and my six brothers and sisters and my ma and daddy. But someone from my village tell me when my uncle found out the soldiers had come and were burning down the village he want to go see for himself. He very quietly sneak back to the village. He thinks the soldiers are gone but they not gone they are just hiding...
Click here to read more of Stay Htoo's story...
Click here to e-mail Fr. James Brisbin about Stay Htoo's faith story.
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