Gyaw Gyaw - boat on river

About us

The story of Gyaw Gyaw:
Our origins, the place, and the people

The story of Gyaw Gyaw begins in 2008. Line Ramstad came to the remote Karen village, Noh Bo, as part of a Norwegian architectural project meant to investigate the role of architecture in the developing world.

Initially a six month stay, Ramstad found her home in Noh Bo as well as her life’s purpose.

In 2009 Ramstad founded Gyaw Gyaw together with her local colleagues; Peter, Phillipa, Pah Me, Koe Taw, See Dah Pah, Saw Dee, and Paw Eh Wah. Since then, Gyaw Gyaw have developed a democratically run organization and over 80 local projects.

The Easy People in the Land Without Evil

The Karen people refer to themselves as Pa Ge Njaw, meaning the easy people. They reside in an area along the Thai-Burmese border known as Kaw Tho Lei which translates to the land without evil. This is the Karen state.

Both Burma as a whole and the Karen state are rich in natural resources and provides the inhabitants with easy access to food, water, and shelter.

In the aftermath of World War II, Burma was headed towards a federal state. The intention was for the eight largest minority groups to gain sovereignty of their own land areas. The agreements were never ratified, and this marked the start of a still ongoing civil war.

Up until 2010, the area has been under the rule of varying dictatorships. Since then, the military have maintained their power but have slowly allowed for the civil government to access more influence. During this period the country have blossomed, and there have been a greater degree of freedom of speech, better access to education, and the quality of life have increased.

February 1st 2021 the ruling government was overthrown and a new military dictatorship claimed their rule.

The Karen people live in an insecure state and through the years, man have fled across the border into Thailand. Here they live a paperless exitance, without rights, and run a great risk of arrest or a forced return to Burma. Many have been given a refugee status and subsequently moved to a third country. This migration constitutes a large brain drain for the country.