The Trail of Dirt, the Story of Endless Struggle

I wash the dirt off my feet. The dirt that has been trampled by the regime in all its forms. The dirt that has given refuge to the fleeing souls. The dirt that has been kicked into the face of the powerless.

In this heat, the dirt and sand sticks to your feet. It is from the city that is under construction and yearning to be developed.

streets are paved with earth, dug and filled, for the concrete development
Men and women are hard at work to build and build. Yet, neither the city, nor the country, is out to please, or impress. It has years of repression, and of allowing hostilities to fester, to get out of hand, like it has now in various parts of the country.

The image of the compassionate Buddhist society has lost its appeal. What is manifest is hatred and political manipulation at its worse.

Muslim vs Buddhists. Rakhine vs Rohingyas. Army vs armed groups. Thein Sein vs Aung San Suu Kyi. People vs people.
Hardy transport, the meaningless symbol of compassion in the background

In all its resilience and dream for a free country, why are the people easily driven into these mindless violence and clashes? Money, greed, power, ignorance, incompetence, impunity.

People on the ground are slowly losing the glimmer of hope projected in their once idolization of The Lady, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - and they are on the brink of being swept away by the flood of reckless capital and filtered down cronyism.

Its happening not just in the business sector. It will seep into every facet of life, including the world of aid, NGO work and humanitarian assistance.
A coat of paint is not going to fix everything

Yet, the city and its people are working hard. Can they ride on the current wave to get themselves out of the rut of political disempowerment and corruption? To the ordinary citizens, money is not everything. Freedom and respect is what is stake.

Cho is a tailor. She wanted to be scientist. She graduated from the Mandalay University in 1995 with a degree in chemistry. But there was nothing to do in the public or private sector with the education she had. So she decided to start her own business.
Cho with her sewing machine at the Bogyoke Aung San market

I asked her if the influx of visitors has given her hope of an improved economy and she said that while it may contribute towards more earnings. money was not the only story. "The political situation is still the same. If that doesn't change, it doesn't matter if the businesses and tourists come here."

She thinks that it would realistically take another 30 years for real changes to take place.

Cho, who asked to be called Cherry - also the name of her business - has a 7-year old son and hopes when he gets to university, he will have something to do with his education.

I promised her that I would be back with orders for business. I am back on the street  and heading home to Bangkok, with a trail of the dirt as a reminder of the endless struggle in the region.


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