I've had the thought that living in an eternal summer makes time pass differently. Leaves never leave the trees, the Sun peeks out for at least a few hours even the most rainy days, and the air-conditioner is always on. But again here I am, another month gone, looking back at what the last few weeks have brought.
At the end of July I went to Thazi with fellow Frontier reporter Su Myat Mon. While there we worked on a story about Shwe Taung company's cement plant expansion. Back by the IFC the project had come under fire from local villagers and international INGOs. Claims of land grabs, contaminated water, untrustworthy officials, and miscommunications in million-dollar dealings came together to form a tangled web. The full story is available in Frontier Myanmar, and should be available online in the coming weeks.
Rakhine State erupted into violence once more this past month, causing even my most geography-challenged friends in America to reach out and ask me what was going on. Instead of answering their emails with long, drawn-out responses, I sent them the link to the four-part podcast series I have been working on, taking an in-depth look at the situation in Rakhine State.
You can listen to the first episode below, or find all of the episodes on iTunes or SoundCloud.
I jumped on a plane and headed up to Kachin State, heading to Idawgyi, where I met up with the Face of Indawgyi crew. Their eco-tourism initiatives, community-building, and everyday lives are truly something to behold- and something you'll be able to read about in an upcoming issue of Frontier Myanmar.
Twenty-four hours in Myitkyina also brought me to the doorstop of Pinnya Tagar Academy, where students from across rural Myanmar were eager to ask me questions about my life, English language, and my thoughts on the future of Myanmar.
The staff at the academy gave me a lot of information about education in Kachin, most of it heartbreaking and frustrating to hear. In the hallway a DIY sign really helped sum up some of the issues they deal with on a daily basis, "If people are educated they can check the government abuse of power. If people remain uneducated the government can rule and oppress as it wishes."
Life in Yangon continues as it always does. My favorite tea-shop servers are learning English and practice with me every time they see me. The nightly storms wash away the betel-nut stains on the sidewalk, and power outages continue to be as reliable as the sun rising and setting.