Saw Win

Chiang Rai


Saw Win, a 50-year-old man, is from Bago region, Myanmar where he owned 10 rai of land (approximately 1.6 hectare). In Myanmar, he saw others in his village go to work in Thailand and earn more money than he did. With the uncertainty of climate and seasons that farming brings, Saw Win made the decision to move to Thailand 20 years ago to make a living.

Leaving his wife, he traveled alone to Thailand, swimming across the river and ending up on the Thai side of the Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai province. Undocumented and unsure of how to obtain legal status, the first job he could find was cleaning dishes at a local restaurant.

Saw Win knew other migrants working on rubber plantations and fishing boats. They shared stories with him about their struggles and poor working conditions in the rubber and fishing sectors, making the decision to remain working in factories where he felt working conditions were better.

Later, Saw Win managed to obtain legal documents to work in Thailand. He was given working papers and an ID allowing him to invite his wife to live with him in Chiang Rai. Now, Saw Win works at a Chinese-owned factory, where he is provided with accommodation to live with his wife. He believes that there are no opportunities back home, and to make a living, one must migrate to Thailand.

He only wishes to stay in Thailand until he retires but worries that the political situation in Myanmar may mean he cannot ever return.
 “As long as the army remains in power most people will stay in Thailand and work.”


Photo by Luke Duggleby

Myintt Wa


Myintt Wa