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I really didn’t know what to expect to find in Burma before I arrived. I knew that the country was very isolated and that the army had a stranglehold upon the population and violently repressed any expression of freedom that the people tried to display. As the plane started its descent across the recently flooded plains that surround Rangoon, I quickly realized that this was going to be an experience that was unlike any other I had come across in my life.
As the taxi quickly sped through the crowded streets and the airport became a speck in the distance I was surprised to see the brand new houses that were dotted around a small lake. The cab driver informed me that those were all owned by the military personnel and their cronies. After passing the lavish residents that were inhabited by the military, the buildings quickly began looking dilapidated and the infrastructure was in urgent need of an upgrade. This dramatic contrast was most evident with the main highway running from Rangoon to Mandalay. I took the 600km bus ride that took a grueling 15 hours to complete. In the middle of the night I awoke to discover on my left, far into the distance, a newly paved four-lane highway running adjacent to the dusty, one and a half lane “highway” that we were trying to navigate down. I asked a Burmese man what that road was for. He bravely told me in a two words, “government” and “opium”.
My pictures reflect that man and the general Burmese population that brave the oppression and brutality of the junta. From my experience, the Burmese people are some of the most friendly, resilient, and hard working people I have ever encountered. Despite any independent voice being violently smothered by the junta, they continue to see hope in their lives. When many other people from around the world would crumble under the circumstances, the people that I encountered showed that they were proud of their home and hopeful one day the government would be toppled.