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River of Tears: Snapshots from the Edge of a War

Salween River: Burma on the left, Thailand on the right.
The Karen villagers were friendly and happy to have their photos made.  The children were polite and never begged. Deep in the jungle, no sounds of motors or phones. Thanaka face.

The cosmetic on their faces is called “thanaka” which they say is good for pimples, prevents sunburn and makes a cooling sensation on the skin.  Thanaka, derived from the bark of several types of trees, is also used simply as makeup.

Thanaka. Nearly all the kids were in school or a nursery.  They met us with a mixture of smiles, waves and curiosity.

The man with the red and white shirt is a village medic who treated yesterday’s land mine victim. His English is good. Inside his hut, English words were written on a blackboard because, he said, he continues to learn.

A few of the kids were not in the classes but were working.  The medic said most kids go to school, but attendance is the parents’ choice, and some parents just keep their kids in the fields.

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