Pa Shaw* A Strong Brother for Three Younger Ones
He is a slim young boy with sad eyes, and is 15 years old. He has lived in a boys’ boarding house in a refugee camp since 2006. Pa Shaw said he came here with other people in the village after his father became sick and passed away.
After Pa Shaw had lived in the camp for a year, he received news from new arrivals that his mother had also taken ill and died. His other siblings stayed with his uncle. Shortly after, his uncle could not take care of them. His three siblings had to flee to the same camp.
Even though his younger brothers and sister live in different boarding houses, they are considered lucky to live in the same camp. They still have a chance to see each other and play together everyday.
In his free time, Pa Shaw likes playing Sepak Takraw with his friends while his brothers and sister are playing around the same area. He usually tells his siblings to stay in contact every day. If they are not around him, they need to tell him their whereabouts.
“I told them not to do anything bad. Don’t copy bad behaviour such as being lazy or naughty. Don’t break the rules.”
“Sometimes they ask me about homework. I teach them sometimes. I tell them to read a lot so that they will have good opportunities in the future. If I miss home, I think about my parent’s teaching; ‘you have to be a good person, don’t be stubborn’. I told them this is what our parent’s used to teach us.”
His voice was level when speaking his mind, but each time he spoke about his parents, his voice stumbled and grew hesitant. When asked how he can fulfill the duty of his parents taking care of three brothers and sisters, he replied;
“I look at my elder friends, social workers and teachers as good examples.”
Although living in the camp with his siblings is safe, Pa Shaw is still haunted by the nightmares back in his hometown. He witnessed solders attacking the village, people had to flee to the jungle in the middle of the night. Sometimes he saw soldiers shoot villagers and many times he saw them seize supplies from the villagers. If they fought back, the villagers would get beaten up or shot. To this day, when Pa Shaw hears rumours that soldiers are near the camp, he will quickly pack his bag.
“If I hear soldiers are not far away from the borders, I will pack my belongings and tell my siblings to pack their bags. I don’t know where to go but we need to be prepared”, he says.
Fear might occupy the heart of Pa Shaw but it does not mean there is no room for hope. The heart of this young boy is strong and tough enough to hope for a better future, his mind resilient enough to dream of the day that his homeland will be peaceful so that he can live in the village with his siblings like in the old days.