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Being both poor and happy
2011.06.24 21:53:20

A children’s story from Thailand by John Sinclair

Jabussee is a hill-tribe village in Northern Thailand where the children have very little but are very happy. The villagers are Lahu people whose fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers migrated to Thailand from nearby Burma to escape slavery and persecution there. There was even one man who had left his Lahu family behind in Burma and ended up in Jabussee to escape from the cruel Burmese Army and he now has a second family in Jabussee.

The Lahu people are very proud of their unique culture. They wear their very handsome traditional costumes with great pride. These are very different to the costumes of other hill-tribe peoples. They practice their handcrafts especially their unique style.

In Jabussee the people are very poor. They have no money to buy food so the grow all the food crops and animals they need to feed themselves. They have no money to buy a house or even the materials to build a house so they use their razor sharp jungle knives and go out into the forest to cut down the trees, bamboo and grass they need to build their own houses as strongly as any nails could hold them. In the centre of the house they put a bed of clay so that they can make a cooking fire on it. The men could build a basic family house in just two days and it cost them nothing apart from their labour. In Jabussee there were few cattle but people kept their pigs and lots of chickens that wandered everywhere until one day they would end up in a cooking pot. They even had to process the rice they grew to get rid of the husks and to make it edible. It was all hard work. Except on special days all of the adults went to work in the fields on the steep hillsides where they grew their vegetables, rice and corns and a little coffee that they sold to give them the only money they ever got. They saved this up to buy solar panels and batteries. That let them have a few small electric lights in their houses. That was really important.

When a family needs a new house, all the men of the village work together to help them build it. Being Lahu means they use a traditional tribal style with thatched houses and floors made from split bamboo well above the ground. The hut walls are made of split bamboo. They couldn’t afford nails so they built their houses with almost none. They just split bamboo into long thin strings and twisted it so that the rafters and beams were held in place

as strongly as any nails could hold them. In the centre of the house they put a bed of clay so that they can make a cooking fire on it. The men could build a basic family house in just two days and it cost them nothing apart from their labour.

In Jabussee there were few cattle but people kept their pigs and lots of chickens that wandered everywhere until one day they would end up in a cooking pot. They even had to process the rice they grew to get rid of the husks and to make it edible. It was all hard work. Except on special days all of the adults went to work in the fields on the steep hillsides where they grew their vegetables, rice and corns and a little coffee that they sold to give them the only money they ever got. They saved this up to buy solar panels and batteries. That let them have a few small electric lights in their houses. That was really important Although they had so little and had to work very hard the children of Jabussee were very happy. The older children walk many kilometres every week to attend a primary school in another hill-tribe village and don’t see their families all week. The younger children attend a small elementary school in the village. They have no toys but their parent make toys for them that don’t cost anything that the children play with and have lots of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Except on special days all of the adults went to work in the fields on the steep hillsides where they grew their vegetables, rice and corns and a little coffee that they sold to give them the only money they ever got. They saved this up to buy solar panels and batteries. That let them have a few small electric lights in their houses. That was really important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a family needs a new house, all the men of the village work together to help them build it. Being Lahu means they use a traditional tribal style with thatched houses and floors made from split bamboo well above the ground. The hut walls are made of split bamboo. They couldn’t afford nails so they built their houses with almost none. They just split bamboo into long thin strings and twisted it so that the rafters and beams were held in place




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