5 July 2023 - Myanmar

Myanmar: What life is like for an Internally Displaced Family fleeing Conflict

Lay Lay and her son at an IDP camp in Myanmar

Lay Lay and her son at an IDP camp in Myanmar. Save the Children.

My name is Lay Lay. I’m 38 years old. My husband and I have four children, with our eldest son being only 15 years old. We are living in an IDP camp in eastern Myanmar due to the ongoing fighting that pushed us to flee our home last year. Let me tell you how it all happened.

In February 2022, our family got to experience fighting in our village for the first time. When the fighting started, we all left our home immediately, except for my husband, who stayed to protect the house.

We fled to a nearby village until the fighting finished. When we knew it was safe, we came back to our village.

Months later, a morning in November 2022, I heard the news that my uncle had passed away. While arranging the funeral, we heard a loud noise: heavy artillery started shelling our village once again. We had to carry our uncle’s dead body and run with it to safety. As a result of the fighting, we were only able to carry out a small funeral, with a few relatives and friends. By the time we finished burying my uncle, no one was left in the village. Everyone had fled.

My auntie’s home got hit and burned down, and out of four family members, three got hit by the debris from the shelling too. We all sheltered in a monastery in a nearby village in Kayah State. We sheltered in that monastery for about two days, despite shelling reaching the perimeters of the monastery.

The fighting worsened with explosions making windows break into pieces. We felt unsafe so we all had to flee again without any of our belongings. That’s how we reached the camp where we are now.

When we arrived here at first, we had to live in a tight space, in a monastery compound, with other people. Our children wouldn’t even dare to go outside when we first arrived. My youngest son asked me what if the shells would reach this camp as well, and I had to comfort him by saying that now we were far away from the battlefield.

 Lay Lay*'s sons playing inside their shelter at the IDP camp, Myanmar

Lay Lay*'s sons playing inside their shelter at the IDP camp, Myanmar. Save the Children Myanmar.

Eventually, they relaxed and started going out to play. Sometimes we go into the forest to find some vegetables. But since its summer right now, we cannot harvest or plant, so we cannot work to earn. We spend our days here slowly, not doing much, just trying to get by.

Sometimes we visit other people’s homes and chat with them about the time in the future when we will be able to go home. We also spend time with friends and family members talking about what had happened to ease our minds for a bit, and seek comfort in one another.

As we can’t work while staying in the IDP camp, we were very happy to receive tarpaulin from Save the Children, as it provides peace of mind that there are people who want to help us. We don’t feel abandoned anymore.

When we received the tarpaulin, we started building our shelter homes together. The men would go into the forest and chop wood and bamboo to build the shelters. Then with the help of the community leaders, we started building one by one.

By helping each other, we now have a place that looks like a proper home for us. It helps us sleep better at night.

Support our programmes in Myanmar by donating to our Children's Emergency Fund today.

We stand side by side with children in the world's toughest places.