Gyaw Gyaw at Thai-Burmese border


Gyaw Gyaw’s projects are implemented in Karen villages along the Thai-Burmese border. The area is rich in natural resources and is characterized by three distinct seasons, mountainous and rainforest covered land, and small hidden villages.

The climate

The area the Karen people inhabit is a mountainous subtropical rainforest. The landscape consists of steep mountains, tightly scattered around the area.

There are three distinct seasons that strongly affect the life of Karens; cold season, hot season, and rainy season.

From October to February the cold season reigns. The nights are cold, and the days are warm, the climate is drying following the humid rainy season. This season is a time of harvesting as all natural materials have completed their seasonal growth, have lower levels of sugar, and the insects are dormant.

The hot season follows. From March to May marks the warmest period of time in the area. The landscape becomes dry and brown, and everything green withers. At the end of the season, blooming begins, the temperature sinks, and the insects begin to reproduce.

June marks the beginning of the rainy season. Summer storms with heavy rain and strong winds, the world comes alive. Up until September, everything turns green and the nature becomes lush, and all living beings thrive.

This is where the Karen people live.

The villages and culture

When you look at the World map, the Moei River is a land border. For the Karen people the Moei River is a vital, winding river that provides nourishment, hygiene, and water for agriculture.

Along the river and up in the mountains, tiny, hidden, and scattered villages are home to roughly 1.6 million Karen people. Official governing structures are lacking, however there are clear informal structures within the villages, the different regions, and the Karen state as a whole. A village leader heads the village affairs, and a variety of religious stakeholders contribute to the local structure and organization.

Animism is a big part of Karen culture and history. Animism is the belief that objects, places, and creatures possess a spiritual essence. As the Karen people have come in closer proximity to Thailand and other ethnic groups in Burma, Buddhism now compliments their traditional beliefs. Since British colonialism in the 1800s and up until today, Christian missionaries have brought their faiths to the area.

The Karen people are a collectivistic people, and places great importance on the value of community.