The Library Was a Beacon of Hope for Me

Ms.Tik Thoo
Myanmar (Burma) Refugee camp

Ms. Tik Thoo, who got married early, was gossiped about by her neighbors and other people around her and became increasingly socially withdrawn. It was the library that gave her a ray of hope. Ms. Tik Thoo became the leader of young volunteers through her experience of being praised for the first time in her life by other people.

Every Day I Just Cried

Hello. My name is Tik Thoo. It’s been more than 20 years since I fled to the refugee camp in Thailand at the age of two.

When I was 13 years old and in the sixth grade, I got married but kept crying every day. Feeling my life was meaningless, I couldn’t look at people’s faces and lived almost in hiding in my house.

I live in a Ban Don Yang refugee camp. We live in a house made of straw.

It was SVA that gave me the opportunity to go outside. One day, after I had been living in hiding at home for about two years, a friend who participated in library activities as a Youth Volunteer invited me to join them. The library was a beacon of hope for me.

Completely New Feelings in the Library

In the library, young people of my generation were reading picture books to children and performing a puppet play. My friend invited me to work as a youth volunteer in the library, and I decided to work up the courage to participate in the activities.

I was praised for the first time in my life while volunteering in the library. And I realized that I was doing something for people.

In the library, I read picture books to and perform puppet plays for children.

While I was interacting with many people in the library, reading a lot of books, and having various experiences, I felt a lot of new and different things coming into my life. I started feeling responsibility for my own growth and my activities.

In addition, a lot of people got to know and respect me, and I was no longer looked down on as before. Participating in library activities made me feel meaning in my life. I completely renewed myself through them, and I have been able to walk toward the future instead of regretting past mistakes.

As I continued with the library activities such as reading to children and performing puppet plays little by little, I began to have a spark for living. I think that the people around me now view me favorably and my reputation also has become positive. I continued to work as a volunteer for five years.

The Chance the Library Gave Me

It was again SVA that gave me another chance. This time, they invited me to work as a librarian. The library committee favorably appraised my work as a youth volunteer and recommended me as a librarian. At that time, I was worried if I would be fit for that work, but I was very excited and really happy.

Afterwards, I became a mother of a child, and now I hope to return to Myanmar.

The library is a school for me and at the same time it is a new world and beacon of hope. When I return to Myanmar, I want to work for the community.

* About 97,000 people still live in nine refugee camps, and their worries and concerns vary. While there is a move to return to Myanmar, they face many concerns including uncertainty of whether the return destination is safe or whether it is possible to make a living when they return. For these reasons, there are still not many people who want to return to their home countries or regions. Moreover, while international support for refugee camps is decreasing year by year, many people, who still cannot make the decision to return home, are trapped in a situation where their lives are gradually getting more difficult.