Tankee’s parents are from a small village in Burma, where they worked as farmers. There, the Burmese military junta often commandeered their supplies and food. Along with other village members, Tankee’s father was forced to be a porter for the army, which was both extremely dangerous and physically demanding. Rebels in the Shan military often hid in the village’s surrounding forest, and they, too, demanded money from local farmers. Tankee’s parents were caught at the crossroads of two armies, even as they themselves had no wish to fight.
In order to escape the abject poverty and violent conflict, Tankee’s parents moved to Thailand. At first, they had to move often, in search of work and a sense of safety. Eventually, they settled in a town with other Shan migrant families, and Tankee was born three years later. She started studying at the school set up by BRP workers and then enrolled in Thai school when she was 8 years old. Tankee struggled to fit in and throughout her time in junior and high school other children would taunt her by claiming that she should not have the right to go to school because she was Shan. Her resilience is truly inspiring.
Tankee is now 21 years old and in her second year of university. Following her high school graduation in March 2013 she was awarded a scholarship to study computing from a large company which covers her university fees. The BRP is helping her with a partial scholarship to cover her living costs throughout her degree. Without this extra support she would be unable to attend, as her parents have menial, low-paid jobs and cannot contribute enough for her to live on. At first, Tankee found it very difficult being away from her family for the first time, especially her mother, who also missed her terribly. She has now settled in and is thriving. She has always been an outstanding student and is determined to complete her education, seeing it as the best chance she has to improve her life and that of her family.