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Utah News

A Refugee's Journey to Utah

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UNHCR

Chapter Doh is an ethnic Karen refugee from Myanmar living in Logan, Utah.

 

“A lot of people came here for school but for me as a refugee, because my country had a civil war and I had to escape,” he said.

 

He essentially grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand after he fled violence caused by a civil war in Myanmar when he was ten years old.

 

“That’s why they were trying to kill us,” he said. “I ran away from my place and then I moved to my aunt’s house and then I ran with her to the jungle to escape for my life.”

 

After that, he lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for nearly ten years without his parents.

 

“I haven’t seen my family since I was ten,” he said. “But when I was in a refugee camp, I didn’t have any access like a letter. I didn’t have anything. Even my parents didn’t have anything. We could not communicate with each other.”

 

Living as an undocumented refugee at a camp meant Doh could not legally leave the camp for any reason, he said.

 

“A refugee camp to me is a prison,” he said.

 

He said while the camp was a safe haven from the civil war in Myanmar, it was not an ideal place to live.

 

“I saw a lot of people and they were lost,” he said. “They don’t have any goal for the future.”

 

He migrated to the Logan six years ago, though he was initially relocated to Salt Lake City.

 

“Pretty much Logan is home to me,” he said.

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Since that time, he has joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he served a Mormon mission in L.A., and he is now a student at Utah State University studying computer science.

 

“Why not Utah State?”

 

He said some people get an education with the hopes of making money. “For me I want to get an education and I hope someday I can go back to my country and teach or be a teacher or a professor or I don’t know,” he said. “It is apart of my goal to help people back home someday.

 

Doh said his main goal is to improve the lives of those people living in the Thai refugee camp where he grew up.

 

“They don’t even have a fridge or a television or those stuff,” he said. “They don’t really have access to internet or access to electricity stuff.”

 

Doh said he has always wanted an education. He was glad when he migrated to the U.S. because he was finally able to further his schooling.

 

Doh said he will return to the refugee on the Thai-Burma border in December to donate school supplies and money to a refugee school called Teseker.

 

chapter_interview.mp3
Click to hear the full interview with Chapter Doh.