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When you go to cover a conflict, you already know what kind of situations you will face in the day-by-day working shoots, but harder to acknowledge is the truth that lies behind your images.
Since I began covering the ongoing conflict in eastern Burma I realised that during the 60 years of civil war different sorts of approaches have been made to explain its nature. Throughout the years of conflict the sense of reality has changed deeply, including what the characters involved in the conflict accept as part of their daily life, such as violence, prosecution, exploitation, exclusion and misery, but also hope. Children along the border are a reflection of this reality.
To choose a job, a house and goods, or even to choose a life, is a luxurious benefit enjoyed by the west, but in this corner of the world these benefits are reduced to a dream that might never come true. Life for these children along the Thai-Burma border is fragile – many end up smuggling drugs into Thailand, or being trafficked to work in Thai factories; others join ethnic armies to fight wars in Burma. Any choice is an attempt to realise their dream, no matter how high the risks are.
Despite the daily dangers they face, their deep eyes and charming smiles carry the hope of getting closer to their dream. Often, however, it collides with reality, for these smiles are worn by the teenagers fighting on the frontline, or who are smuggled into Thailand to live as sex workers or to toil away in never-ending days at the factory. Life for the border children is a precarious adventure.
To see more work by Thailand-based photojournalist Narciso Contreras, visit here.