With “Moving Beyond Trauma” SAD is supporting burmese women traumatised by war and violence. Through sport and play, the women find ways to cope with their past. This is part three of our portrait series in occasion of the 16 days against gender violence.

Ma Than Aye finds herself to be an outsider in the village because she is Burmese and not from a Karen ethnic group. She does not speak the local language and it is difficult for her to find steady work and a good situation. Many Karen people are not comfortable speaking in Burmese and do not think of her as part of the community. She was displaced several times over the course of her life because of violence, then for economic reasons. She has been in the village for several years now, but it continues to be difficult. Daily wage work is challenging, and her family find themselves in a precarious economic situation. The stress of bad family relationships and limited opportunities for employment weighs on her every day.

“It is not always easy”

“I have been with the project since it started, and I have not missed a session. I wanted to try it because it was different, and I was interested in what they were talking about. It is not always easy to find your place and I sometimes argue with the people in the community. They don’t always like us.”

“Then I go home feeling less stressed”

When asked why she enjoys the life skills sessions, Ma Than Aye describes the feeling she gets in participating with others: “I talk, and I move with people from the village. We talk about serious things, but we also laugh. We play soccer and are closer. I can tell them what I am thinking when I am here. I also can stop thinking about the trouble with my family at home. I can be here. I have learned to relax a little – this was hard. Then I go home feeling less stressed and this is good for everyone.”

The importance of inclusion

Ma Than Aye is in a particularly difficult situation as she not only carries a burdened past but also will most likely not have access to the same support systems as other women in the village. SAD and KWEG are working on bridging these gaps by raising awareness in both the sessions and community meetings of the importance of inclusion.