Eh Gay, Gate (age 4) and Elizabeth (age 6 months)
We are proud to introduce residents Eh Gay and her five children, Doe Soe (age 15), Pru Soe (age 11), Pro Soe (age 9), Gate (age 4) and Elizabeth (age 6 months).
Coming to America and Hope Communities wasn’t easy when Eh Gay came seven years ago. In 1988, when Eh Gay was 10 years old, Eh Gay’s family was caught up in the religious and ethnic fighting and subsequent persecution by the military government of Burma. Like many Burmese, Eh Gay and her family ended up in a Thai refugee camp where they remained for seventeen years.
They were never allowed to leave for any reason. Eh Gay married and gave birth to her first three children in the refugee camp. There was a school and a hospital but no running water, no electricity, no refrigerators, no stoves. When the food shipment from the United Nations came late, there was hunger. According to Eh Gay, there was a lot of stress in the refugee camps related to boredom and a lack of work. Drinking and drug use were prevalent as well as domestic violence.
Eh Gay took advantage of what little was offered. At the camp, she went to school, learning English and Karen (a language of Burma and Thailand) and also studied her native language of Burmese, skills she would use when she reached the United States.
The United Nations and the U.S State Department facilitated Eh Gary’s journey to the U.S. where she was resettled in Denver and lives in a Hope Communities property. Her mother and sister went to Sweden. Another sister committed suicide at the camp.
At Hope Communities and as a volunteer, Eh Gay helps translate for new Burmese and Karen-speaking residents. She also volunteers to meet every new family the day after they move into their new Hope apartment and lets staff know if there are any issues. She also sits on the Resident Council. Her children have participated in the pre-school and after-school programs offered on site at her Hope Communities building.
“America is the best for me. It makes me feel good every day. I love Hope Communities and my children’s schools. I have lots of friends,” says Eh Gay. “Someday I would like to advocate for women’s rights. I saw a lot of abuse in the refugee camps. There are a lot of women’s rights here. There is more freedom.”