From crouching in a boat going up the Salween River, to carrying a tripod up the side of a Nepalese mountain, to elbowing my way through a press-pack outside of a Yangon courtroom... August was quite a month.
Work for Associated Press, IDP camps, rice paddy fields, HIV/AIDS in Myanmar, child laborers, fake news in India and more from the past two months.
Work for Associated Press, covering peaceful protests turned violent, the impact of Cyclone Nargis ten years later, and other work from April/May.
I get a strange guilt when I look back at the month and realize I’ve only done a certain amount of work. March was one of those months where I spent a lot of time meeting with people, listening to their stories, and planning for bigger projects in the months to come — but I still managed to get some things done, including starting a weekly news round-up newsletter. Feel free to sign up here.
I kicked off the month with a story in New Naratif about how press freedom has experienced a massive decay under Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. This topic is something that's been written about fairly extensively the past few months — but let's not forget that there are still journalists sitting in prison for simply doing their jobs. #FreeWaLoneKyawSoeOo
International Women’s Day was at the start of March, so what better time than to visit a rural women’s collective that is making reusable menstrual pads. I did a little video on the group, which is the first of its kind in Myanmar.
A photoshoot I did for SEA Globe also came out this week, featuring the talented and whip-smart Sandi Sein Thein.
ArtsEquator published a story I wrote about gallery director Nathalie Johnston. Getting to write about art and change-makers in the art world was a nice change from the regular news pace.
I did a video for Frontier Myanmar about Myanmar's first LGBT choir. Established in 2017 the group expresses itself through music and performance, while building a safe and supportive community.
The morning of my 28th birthday I strolled over the Yangon's old Secretariat building to snap a few photos of the Pyinsa Rasa opening, which a coworker is currently writing a story about.
But perhaps the biggest highlights from the month were running away to different cities to interview incredible people with stories I can't wait to share, while also sneaking in some time with loved ones from around the world.
Keeping this short, as I'm about to jump on a plane to Cambodia to meet with loved ones and an incredible group of female journalists.
Upwards and onwards, and thanks for reading.
Tearsheets and snapshots from the shortest month of the year.
Just like that another year ends, and another one begins. 2017 ended quietly, with my sneaking one last big work trip in before falling off the map and into secret coves of the Pacific. I'm skipping the retrospective post about the year, instead looking at what lies ahead.
This month I penned my first article for the Washington Post's foreign desk, taking a look at the Rohingya reparation deal. The deal lacks foresight and further jeopardizes the lives of over half a million people.
In December I found myself in central Bangladesh, working for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) to photograph and write about their Kit 8 project, which helps women seeking menstrual regulation procedures have access to necessary healthcare.
I may have been detained by immigration on my way in, and there might have been a giant spider in my room for a straight week, but it was a trip I felt grateful to be on and a subject I feel needs as much attention as it can get. A full edit will be available on IPPF's website in the coming weeks.
My latest piece for National Public Radio took a look at who is- or isn't- sitting in Myanmar's tea shops these days. Hint: it's not young people or women.
Radio France International interview had me go live for their morning news program, discussing the mass grave confessed to by Burmese authorities, the current plight for the jailed Reuters journalists, as well as the current state of press freedom and reporting in the country. I also went live on television for TRT World discussing some of the same topics- but I'll spare you that bleary-eyed video footage.
A few weeks before I was interviewed by Mumbrella Asia editor Eleanor Dickinson about how the government is cracking down on journalists and press freedom. I usually shy away from giving interviews, but with the state of things in Myanmar I figured it's time to set my shyness aside and use the voice I'm fortunate to have.
Doh Athan, Frontier Myanmar's weekly human rights podcast, also had me voice the English version of their episode discussing press freedom in Myanmar. It was my first time in front of the mic rather than being the silent producer on the other side of the recording booth.
And of course I'm still wandering around Yangon, snapping photos of everything from nurseries, to postal offices, to side streets filled with fried-food stalls. I've got a new apartment that needs a lot of work, but looks like it'll be home as long as I'm allowed to stay in Myanmar.
I'm off to the deep south of Myanmar this week, the Irrawaddy delta after that, and already have a few projects in the works that will keep my camera clicking and my fingers typing.
2018, let's go.
On the first day of November I woke up in the medical ward of a refugee camp in Thailand, watching the mist from the mountains roll into the room's open window. I had spend the week along the Thai-Burmese border, reporting on the food shortages facing over 6,000 people living in Shan IDP and refugee camps.
After coming home for a few days I went up to Myanmar's capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, where I covered United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit.
The following day was the trial of three journalists and a driver who are charged with flying a drone over Myanmar's capital. To say the charges and trials have been an absolute farce would be an understatement.
And then back to Yangon again, where I met famous Myanmar 35mm film editor Zaw Min in his studio, where he talked about not being able to keep up with the changing pace of technology in Myanmar's film industry.
And, as always, I spent countless hours in tea shop- except this time for a slightly more concentrated reason that I'll be sharing next in the next few weeks.
Flipping through the pages of my notebook, November was filled with nothing but matters of the heart. Whether it was 40+ friends from around the world gathering around a table to have Thanksgiving with me, eating fried rice at 2AM on the street corner with loved ones, or sleeping in with a kitten I rescued from a local tea shop- November was a good one.
December's line-up includes Bangladesh, Thailand, Micronesia, and a heavy dose of nostalgia and contemplation for what what 2017 brought.
Home to home.
From Yangon to D.C. and a few places between.
Home and back again. September and October, 2017.
A look back at work done in August.
I've been sitting in a lot of different places, mic in hand, the past few months: IDP homes, government offices, interfaith community centers, recording studios, temples, market stalls... you get the idea. But perhaps most important thing I've been sitting on is the thought, "How did it get to this?"
This month I produced a four-part series looking into the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine Satte, five years since violence flared between the Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine communities.
The full series is listed, in order, below.
My fellow newsroom member from Frontier Myanmar, Oliver Slow, has been with me along the way asking questions, writing scripts, buying me Pop Tarts, and overall making this a true team effort. My hat also goes off to Frontier Myanmar reporter Su Myat Mon for helping us with translations and interviews while we were in Rakhine.