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Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West

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Zoya Phan was born in the remote jungles of Burma to the Karen tribe, which for decades has been resisting Burma’s brutal military junta. At age 13, her peaceful childhood was shattered when the Burmese army attacked. So began two terrible years of running, as Zoya was forced to join thousands of refugees hiding in the jungle. Her family scattered, her brothers went deeper Zoya Phan was born in the remote jungles of Burma to the Karen tribe, which for decades has been resisting Burma’s brutal military junta. At age 13, her peaceful childhood was shattered when the Burmese army attacked. So began two terrible years of running, as Zoya was forced to join thousands of refugees hiding in the jungle. Her family scattered, her brothers went deeper into the war, and Zoya, close to death, found shelter at a Thai refugee camp, where she stayed until 2005 when she fled to the U.K. and claimed asylum. There, in a twist of fate, she became the public face of the Burmese people’s fight for freedom. This is her inspirational story.


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Zoya Phan was born in the remote jungles of Burma to the Karen tribe, which for decades has been resisting Burma’s brutal military junta. At age 13, her peaceful childhood was shattered when the Burmese army attacked. So began two terrible years of running, as Zoya was forced to join thousands of refugees hiding in the jungle. Her family scattered, her brothers went deeper Zoya Phan was born in the remote jungles of Burma to the Karen tribe, which for decades has been resisting Burma’s brutal military junta. At age 13, her peaceful childhood was shattered when the Burmese army attacked. So began two terrible years of running, as Zoya was forced to join thousands of refugees hiding in the jungle. Her family scattered, her brothers went deeper into the war, and Zoya, close to death, found shelter at a Thai refugee camp, where she stayed until 2005 when she fled to the U.K. and claimed asylum. There, in a twist of fate, she became the public face of the Burmese people’s fight for freedom. This is her inspirational story.

30 review for Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    . This is an amazing autobiography on a variety of counts. Most of all I learnt so much, and all of it related by an outstandingly charming and intelligent woman, who has had some incredible experiences - some of them marvellous, and some of them terrifying. I knew virtually nothing about Burma/Myanmar before reading this book , and now I feel I have sat down over several days, and talked about it with the most enlightened guide possible. Zoya expresses herself wonderfully, and so much about Burm . This is an amazing autobiography on a variety of counts. Most of all I learnt so much, and all of it related by an outstandingly charming and intelligent woman, who has had some incredible experiences - some of them marvellous, and some of them terrifying. I knew virtually nothing about Burma/Myanmar before reading this book , and now I feel I have sat down over several days, and talked about it with the most enlightened guide possible. Zoya expresses herself wonderfully, and so much about Burma comes alive for us – its history, culture and people. Although this is an autobiography, Zoya was brought up by parents who were resistance fighters against the Burmese dictatorship, and threaded throughout the book are issues and perspectives relating deeply to the politics of her country. We experience Zoya’s life as a child in the jungle, as a refugee in Thailand, as a student in Bangkok, and as a campaigner in the UK. It is an extraordinary story and one told absolutely from the heart. (view spoiler)[ For the first third of the book we get to experience the idyllic bliss of childhood in a small village in the jungles of Burma. We get to learn about all that wonderful otherness and difference, which makes reading about people in other countries so fascinating. Zoya came from a deeply loving family and a deeply supportive community – and it is great to read about the care she found in both family and society. We get to learn about all about the Karen people of Burma, plus we learn about the presence of all the other ethnic groups which make up this country. The Karen people don’t even speak Burmese. They had no written language until Britain made Burma a colony (1824-1948), and gave them the Burmese alphabet to write with. A major issue in the book is the brutal Burmese dictatorships, and their persecution of the Karen and other ethnic people – even the persecution of Burman ethnic group (the main ethnic group in Burma). People were being driven from their homes, to become “Internally displaced persons”, with nowhere to live in their own country. The methods of the Burmese army involved brutal killings, torture, abduction of children to become child soldiers (this happened more in Burma than in anywhere else in the world), slavery and the destruction of crops and homes. Often people were starving. We are shown the terror of being bombed and chased away from where you live, out into the jungle, and eventually the long march as refugees, over the border into Thailand. We learn what it is like to be a refugee. What it means to be a legal refugee (recognised by Thailand and the UN) versus what it is like to be a ghost refugee (recognised by no-one, and with access to nothing). We also get to experience Zoya’s enormous good fortune, and ability to rise up out of the refugee camp, due to her unusual intelligence, and the winning a George Soros scholarship to the University of Bangkok. All the time she was at university though she had to pretend to be Thai. (One of the downsides of being a refugee is that officially you are not allowed to leave the camps.) She did incredibly well there, especially considering that when she arrived she didn’t even know how to use a computer. In fact everything about Bangkok and city life was new to her – the cultural gap between village life and life in the city is huge - and our respect for Zoya goes from strength to strength as we see her determination to come to terms with this whole new experience. After university she was offered a promising job with a telecommunications company, where she had been placed for work experience and done very well. But instead she chose, along with some other Karen students, to go back into Burma and document what was happening to her people. It was pretty horrendous, and the persecution continued to be terrible. She then came to the UK as an illegal immigrant to do an MA in Politics and Development. After many legal battles, in 2007, she was granted refugee status. Over here she became heavily involved in campaigns for the people of Burma, and is to this day working for Burma Campaign UK. She is still very active, and very much a spokesperson for the people of Burma. (hide spoiler)] Highly, highly recommended. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Burma Campaign UK http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/index... Myanmar profile from the BBC 16 July 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-... Current news re persecution of the Rohingya people in Burma. The Guardian 14 July 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/commentisf...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is hugely important.... it belongs among the ranks of "Night" by Elie Wiesel. Zoya Phan is a Burmese refugee of the Karen ethnic group. It is astounding how long the genocide in Burma against the Karen and other ethnic groups has been going on. It is mindblowing the atrocities that people will commit and force other people to commit on their behalf in order to hold onto power and money. This is nothing new, unfortunately. Zoya's story is sadly all too familiar. After reading this book, This book is hugely important.... it belongs among the ranks of "Night" by Elie Wiesel. Zoya Phan is a Burmese refugee of the Karen ethnic group. It is astounding how long the genocide in Burma against the Karen and other ethnic groups has been going on. It is mindblowing the atrocities that people will commit and force other people to commit on their behalf in order to hold onto power and money. This is nothing new, unfortunately. Zoya's story is sadly all too familiar. After reading this book, I felt like I finally had a better understanding of the conflict in Burma. I remember the monks marching a few years ago and not really understanding the context of it. "Undaunted" is easy to read and very accessible. I would not hesitate to teach this in a high school class in a unit on genocide along with your pick of Holocaust books, Rwandan books, and "Tree Girl" by Ben Mikaelson. The horrifying and brutal violence that has occurred every day for years in Burma is not described graphically... but your imagination of it will haunt you late into the night. After reading this book, I felt very inspired by Zoya Phan. This book is not merely an account of one person's suffering, but it speaks for an entire population of people who have no rights.... who are, as Zoya calls them, "ghosts." Refugees, asylum seekers, prisoners, individuals with no possibility of leaving a place where they cannot survive... Zoya's story brings to light the intense pain of living without dignity and without rights. Books like this reaffirm my faith in literature... that, even in the face of a sadistic and brutal dictatorship, the truth will come to light through the stories that people tell of their own humble lives. If you don't have time or the inclination to read the book, you can check out the work that Zoya and her siblings are doing at wwww.phanfoundation.org.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    A truly amazing story of survival. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the atrocities being commited on the various ethnic groups within Burma by a military regime that runs the country on fear, persecution and the bloodshed of innocent people. This book really bought home to me what is happening in Burma.The military government attacking, killing, mutilating, raping, starving its own people. They have been doing so for many decades and WE are letting them get away with it by c A truly amazing story of survival. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the atrocities being commited on the various ethnic groups within Burma by a military regime that runs the country on fear, persecution and the bloodshed of innocent people. This book really bought home to me what is happening in Burma.The military government attacking, killing, mutilating, raping, starving its own people. They have been doing so for many decades and WE are letting them get away with it by continuting to 'fund' the Generals. It is appalling. We have all heard about Aung San Suu Kyi, who in 1990 won the election but was placed under house arrest by the regime, and the shocking conditions she endures and that her people continue to suffer under such appalling conditions and have done so for so many years. People fleeing their villages, living in fear in the jungles and even in fear within refugee camps, where the junta can attack at any time. It sickens me that a peaceful people are not allowed to live in peace. This book evoked in me a range of emotions, I wept, I was angry and appalled, I felt helpless and not educated enough about the plight of the Karen and other ethnic groups. I also found that I got to have a laugh along with Zoya and her sister, especially working the washing machine. Zoya was surrounded by strong parents who worked for the resistance and that shaped her life and set her path. That Zoya escaped and is alive to continue the good work of her father and family to to help the Karen and other ethnic groups of Burma is truly amazing. To know her own life is in danger because of the work she is doing to help her people and speaking out against the Military Government and she continues to do so is truly inspirational.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Zoya grew up in a self-sufficient jungle society, but was forcibly removed to a refugee camp in Thailand. She was given scholarships and currently lives in London. I enoyed most reading about the peaceful life in the jungle as a child, but was very interested in how the current and past political situation in Burma has affected the common people. By the way, the Karen tribes which have been moved are 3 different religions, but they try to work together for the common good: Christian, Muslim, and Zoya grew up in a self-sufficient jungle society, but was forcibly removed to a refugee camp in Thailand. She was given scholarships and currently lives in London. I enoyed most reading about the peaceful life in the jungle as a child, but was very interested in how the current and past political situation in Burma has affected the common people. By the way, the Karen tribes which have been moved are 3 different religions, but they try to work together for the common good: Christian, Muslim, and Animist.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Degler

    Loved this book. I've been working with the Karen people in Thailand for almost 2 years and I gained so much insight into their culture and lives from this book. Such an amazing story of survival and heroism. I highly recommend this book for anyone working in Thailand or Burma or anyone who wants to learn about the reality of has been happening in Burma. Loved this book. I've been working with the Karen people in Thailand for almost 2 years and I gained so much insight into their culture and lives from this book. Such an amazing story of survival and heroism. I highly recommend this book for anyone working in Thailand or Burma or anyone who wants to learn about the reality of has been happening in Burma.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Wow. Everybody should read this. That this could still be happening in our world, today, when many of us (I'm thinking of myself) live such safe, comfortable lives... This book is well-written and the authors work to keep your attention by ending each chapter with suspense-building one-sentence paragraphs. Here's probably the most important quote: …It is very good that the UN resettlement programme is giving people a chance to escape from the misery of the refugee camps and start a new life in safe Wow. Everybody should read this. That this could still be happening in our world, today, when many of us (I'm thinking of myself) live such safe, comfortable lives... This book is well-written and the authors work to keep your attention by ending each chapter with suspense-building one-sentence paragraphs. Here's probably the most important quote: …It is very good that the UN resettlement programme is giving people a chance to escape from the misery of the refugee camps and start a new life in safety, but I can’t help thinking that the SPDC must be delighted with the United Nations for doing this. It drives us out of the country, and the United Nations, instead of taking action to stop the attacks, ignores why there are refugees, and instead whisks them thousands of miles away. It’s exactly what the SPDC wants. And no matter how many people the UN resettles, more come to the camps to fill their place, because the attacks haven’t stopped, and the United Nations isn’t trying to stop them. (326-327) Organizations working for Burma Phan Foundation: www.phanfoundation.org Burma Campaign UK: www.burmacampaign.org.uk www.uscampaignforburma.org Mae Tao Clinic (Dr. Cynthia Maung’s clinic): www.maetaoclinic.org Thailand Burma Border Consortium: www.tbbc.org Karen Women’s Organization: www.karenwomen.org Karen National Union: www.karennationalunion.net

  7. 5 out of 5

    C

    Another one pulled from the shelf while refreshing Non Fiction displays. Very simply written - the ghost writer seems to be calling it in. Because of this, the magnitude of some events are a little downplayed. For example, she relays how a tiger jumped out of a cave, grabbed a guy by the head and dragged him through a fire... the guy died half in a tiger's mouth and half in a fire. I'm glad it wasn't more graphic than it was, but it felt like someone talking about going out to get the newspaper Another one pulled from the shelf while refreshing Non Fiction displays. Very simply written - the ghost writer seems to be calling it in. Because of this, the magnitude of some events are a little downplayed. For example, she relays how a tiger jumped out of a cave, grabbed a guy by the head and dragged him through a fire... the guy died half in a tiger's mouth and half in a fire. I'm glad it wasn't more graphic than it was, but it felt like someone talking about going out to get the newspaper in the way it was related. Like, "Yeah, so we learned that wasn't a great cave to camp in." That's kind of like saying Jurassic Park wasn't such a great vacation idea. Edit - I gave up. I wanted to get into the book but the ghost writer just duped this girl out of really telling her story with the care it deserved. This makes me feel guilty, but you can't read them all even if you feel you should.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Zapoli

    This book is simple in writing yet powerful in its impact, a story you will not forget for years after you finish the last page. Through the true story of the inspiring activist Zoya Phan the not well known struggle of Burma for their freedom from an oppressive government regime comes to life in all its vivid suffering and intensity. The girl from the jungle has created a straight forward account of her people's hopes and what they have been through to attempt to achieve peace no matter what eth This book is simple in writing yet powerful in its impact, a story you will not forget for years after you finish the last page. Through the true story of the inspiring activist Zoya Phan the not well known struggle of Burma for their freedom from an oppressive government regime comes to life in all its vivid suffering and intensity. The girl from the jungle has created a straight forward account of her people's hopes and what they have been through to attempt to achieve peace no matter what ethnic group they are from that can't be shown through reporters or movies. Not only does she introduce us to her story, she pleads us to take action to help not her but the people left behind in Burma while still ending on a hopeful and inspiring note. The daily struggles we face will never compare to what these strong and courageous people have suffered for for something we have all taken for granted as something our ancestors gave us hundreds of years ago in this day and age- freedom.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bryna

    This was a difficult read. It starts off with some extremely detailed back history of Burma (Myanmar) and I was about ready to call it quits. But then it got good. Zoya's life is a struggle that makes what I am going through seem like sunshine and rainbows. It opened my eyes to a part of the world that is incredbly difficult under horrible leadership. And it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon. This is a definite read! This was a difficult read. It starts off with some extremely detailed back history of Burma (Myanmar) and I was about ready to call it quits. But then it got good. Zoya's life is a struggle that makes what I am going through seem like sunshine and rainbows. It opened my eyes to a part of the world that is incredbly difficult under horrible leadership. And it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon. This is a definite read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mink Gough

    This is one extraordinary memoir that will captivate everyone's heart. Full of vivid memories from the past that invites others' to enter her world of childhood and the time of suffering, Zoya has successfully raised not just only the awareness for Burma but also challenged us, as the world's citizens, to take action with brave heart for transformation in her homeland. This is one extraordinary memoir that will captivate everyone's heart. Full of vivid memories from the past that invites others' to enter her world of childhood and the time of suffering, Zoya has successfully raised not just only the awareness for Burma but also challenged us, as the world's citizens, to take action with brave heart for transformation in her homeland.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kyra

    This is really an incredible book. While the Rohingya recently entered the news, the military dictatorship in Burma has been oppressing minority groups for decades. This is a really stark depiction of a refugee (Zoya) who made it out of Burma, and the steps that she had to take to do so. I think one of the most valuable parts of the book is how she sets up the peaceful life she lived in Burma prior to being forced to flee her village and her emphasis on the common desire of refugees to be able t This is really an incredible book. While the Rohingya recently entered the news, the military dictatorship in Burma has been oppressing minority groups for decades. This is a really stark depiction of a refugee (Zoya) who made it out of Burma, and the steps that she had to take to do so. I think one of the most valuable parts of the book is how she sets up the peaceful life she lived in Burma prior to being forced to flee her village and her emphasis on the common desire of refugees to be able to return to Burma at the end. Her description of the gradual slope of further and further loss makes it all the more devastating as you want her to be able to hold onto the security and stability her family labors to create in each new place, only to watch them have to relocate again. Phan has also led such an interesting life -- one of the few refugees receiving funds to attend university in Thailand, making the dangerous journey into rural Karen lands, and kind of stumbling into being an advocate for the Karen people. Phan also benefits from the fact that Burma isn't something that most people know about, and it's a very troubling narrative to hear. However, I think this book would really benefit from a second edition that updates what has occurred in Burma since then. Phan very much praises the democratic efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi, who now faces calls for her Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked because of her lack of effort to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. Since this book was published about 10 years ago, Phan doesn't have the chance to address any of this, and I would love to hear her perspective. Especially because Phan continually discusses the move towards democracy for Burma, and I really wonder what she would think of efforts so far. I will probably end up stalking her social media to figure it out, but I would love to see a second edition of this book that includes more current events and her work as an activist for Burma. Also, I think they should've kept the title as "Little Daughter" (what it was in the UK). It fits so well with the content of the book and her emphasis/relationship with her father. In contrast, "Undaunted" feels less personal. Also, the phrase "Little Daughter" is in the book about a million times. It just fits.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Damon

    I can't really write a review of the book in terms of grammar, style, tone, pace, etc. The story - rather the factual account - of the atrocities faced by Zoya and her family, and multitudinous families across Burma, take you away from the book and into the lives of these suffering people - albeit from a safe distance. It's difficult to say you enjoyed reading something so heart wrenching, so a better way of phrasing maybe to say that I was captivated by her words and had to keep reminding myself I can't really write a review of the book in terms of grammar, style, tone, pace, etc. The story - rather the factual account - of the atrocities faced by Zoya and her family, and multitudinous families across Burma, take you away from the book and into the lives of these suffering people - albeit from a safe distance. It's difficult to say you enjoyed reading something so heart wrenching, so a better way of phrasing maybe to say that I was captivated by her words and had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't fiction, but real lives. Going to leave this review now as have literally just finished the book a few minutes ago and want it to sink in/digest. Thank you Zoya for relaying your life's journey thus far. Keep fighting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manini

    The book enclasped things about the Karen tribe, evidence of being persistent to get what you want, and how it felt like to be a refugee during the attacks from the Burmese army. It made me think about adaptation, war, and about the opportunities that I have available to me. I loved it, but i found it pretty challenging because of the slow plot (more informative than plot driven). I liked how easy the language was simple and how everything was explained in a way easy for me to understand. I reco The book enclasped things about the Karen tribe, evidence of being persistent to get what you want, and how it felt like to be a refugee during the attacks from the Burmese army. It made me think about adaptation, war, and about the opportunities that I have available to me. I loved it, but i found it pretty challenging because of the slow plot (more informative than plot driven). I liked how easy the language was simple and how everything was explained in a way easy for me to understand. I recommend this book to people who wish to learn more about the burmese attacks and what it takes to get recognized so that your voice could be used to help a cause...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Very powerful and sad true story about the Karen people of Burma . . . but something stops me giving this 4 stars and I can't quite put my finger on what that is. I found it a bit of a 'plod' to get through and the constant name translation I found so tedious - however, I'm sure this is very meaningful for the author. It did make me google news articles about the atrocities occurring in this area of the world. What an amazing character "Little Daughter" is - in fact her whole family are quite in Very powerful and sad true story about the Karen people of Burma . . . but something stops me giving this 4 stars and I can't quite put my finger on what that is. I found it a bit of a 'plod' to get through and the constant name translation I found so tedious - however, I'm sure this is very meaningful for the author. It did make me google news articles about the atrocities occurring in this area of the world. What an amazing character "Little Daughter" is - in fact her whole family are quite incredible.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Janzen

    I was particularly interested in this book because I visited Burma in 95, and the area along the border of Thailand and Burma a few years earlier. Even more, we now have a large group of Karen refugees in the school where I teach. This book helped me understand the type of experiences that their families endured, and what they might be thinking about their past, present and future. The book itself was more informative than gripping, but worth the read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I was disappointed with this book. She has such an amazing story to tell, but you have to dig through the knee deep cliches to find it. Still worth reading - the Burmese civil war is something we all should know more about. Just don't expect shakespeare. I was disappointed with this book. She has such an amazing story to tell, but you have to dig through the knee deep cliches to find it. Still worth reading - the Burmese civil war is something we all should know more about. Just don't expect shakespeare.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Marass

    Some friends found this book to have a slow beginning, but I enjoyed the set up and the introduction to the life of Zoya Phan. The reality of the situation is humbling and does a good job depicting their flight and life in the refugee camps (I think, though I have never been to one to confirm).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Liddy

    This is a really important book about the Karen people. And it helped me understand a bit more about their life in Burma and in some of the refugee camps in Thailand.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    Despite my good resolutions to stop reading if a book doesn't appeal to me after a certain number of pages I always keep pushing myself further and further down the pages, just in case I suddenly get captured by a twist in the story. I did so with this memoir that has been sitting on my shelves for god knows how long. Everytime I felt a bit discouraged about my reading I checked the 5 stars reviews and convinced myself to keep going, at least until enough was enough. Memoir are difficult to revi Despite my good resolutions to stop reading if a book doesn't appeal to me after a certain number of pages I always keep pushing myself further and further down the pages, just in case I suddenly get captured by a twist in the story. I did so with this memoir that has been sitting on my shelves for god knows how long. Everytime I felt a bit discouraged about my reading I checked the 5 stars reviews and convinced myself to keep going, at least until enough was enough. Memoir are difficult to review. at the end of the day Zoya Phan doesn't pretend to write about more than bits of her life in Burma, she never claimed her story would be captivating or extraordinary. I'm not saying that this book is uninteresting by any means and I'm certain that it would appeal very much to some people I just didn't find it satisfying. I expected more about the war (maybe I would have got that had I finished the book, if so my bad), but the horrors happening in her country (again only from the part I read) touch her only second handedly. She sure lives in poverty and experiences moments of fear and anxiety because of her surroundings but she is still quite sheltered from war itself. The prose is far from great, I noticed a lot of repetition that could have at least been edited out. Also something I've noticed again and again are sensationalist sentences of the likes of "sadly, even paradise doesn't last forever" which frustrated me to no end because I then hoped for something a little deeper in the next chapter than her and her sibling's child games and poor village life tales and yet what she announces never seem to come. I'm still giving it two stars because I don't think this is a bad book or memoir. As often, it just isn't the book for me. If you like the idea of a memoir composed of short essays on the author's life in Burma during the war but not necessarily in it, I think you may enjoy it very much. It's just not what I hoped to read, nor what I enjoy reading about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Fosnaugh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is SO IMPORTANT, and especially right now. The military coup in Burma has been in the news a lot lately, but I have found it hard to get more context about the history of this struggle because the military tries to block information-sharing outside of the country. There is little information or books that can be found about Burma, and this author is in danger for sharing her story. This story of a young girl (the author) from Burma, specifically from the Karen ethnic group, tells of he This book is SO IMPORTANT, and especially right now. The military coup in Burma has been in the news a lot lately, but I have found it hard to get more context about the history of this struggle because the military tries to block information-sharing outside of the country. There is little information or books that can be found about Burma, and this author is in danger for sharing her story. This story of a young girl (the author) from Burma, specifically from the Karen ethnic group, tells of her happy childhood, a military conflict “far away”, which eventually reaches her village and sends her and her family fleeing to a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. She shares about the trauma, the hopelessness of the refugee camp, the constant fear, the politics, and how she eventually reaches a platform where she can be a voice for her people. Although I still have questions about why other nations then and now were/are slow to step in, I learned much from her story and perspective.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thinzar

    It's inspiring to read through Zoya's struggles as a daughter of Karen resistance fighters, an IDP and a refugee. Zoya's family is really heart-warming, they love and support each other through thick and thin. Karens really make sure the children get good education amid bombs and bullets. Their fighting spirit for freedom is incredible. It's inspiring to read through Zoya's struggles as a daughter of Karen resistance fighters, an IDP and a refugee. Zoya's family is really heart-warming, they love and support each other through thick and thin. Karens really make sure the children get good education amid bombs and bullets. Their fighting spirit for freedom is incredible.

  22. 4 out of 5

    carol beth

    What an interesting story of survival! How do we know so little of what has been happening in Burma/Myanmar for decades?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Don Bryant

    This is one of those books that opens up the eyes to a whole other level of suffering going on without awareness by the many. I am interested in Burma (now called Myanmar by its totalitarian regime) because of the ministry of Adoniram Judson, one of the first missionaries from North America, sailing in 1812. His story is told in "To the Golden Shore." The accounts of his missionary work stirred more interest in foreign missions than perhaps any other single story, much as David Brainerd's journa This is one of those books that opens up the eyes to a whole other level of suffering going on without awareness by the many. I am interested in Burma (now called Myanmar by its totalitarian regime) because of the ministry of Adoniram Judson, one of the first missionaries from North America, sailing in 1812. His story is told in "To the Golden Shore." The accounts of his missionary work stirred more interest in foreign missions than perhaps any other single story, much as David Brainerd's journals did. Zoya Phan is not a Christian but she is a member of the Karen people, a minority peoples persecuted by the military regime and who are largely Christian. Her story is one of those amazing journeys to freedom through much suffering. My eyes were opened up to the great good of the refugee camps that are often in the news but which are seen as in and of themselves a necessary evil. True in some ways. But the great good they do, especially for children, is immense. Zoya tells the story of how even the smallest of financial gifts to a refugee camp can make an overwhelming impact - medicines, food stuffs, education, etc. Some families end up in these refugee camps for years on end. It is now their home. Their total dependence day in and day out on the largesse of others is a desperation of another kind. Aung San Suu Kyi gets the major attention when it comes to Burma. As a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize she has leveraged the attention to great good as she has stood up to the military regime. The lesser known Zoya Phan is also a real part of the Burma story. She now lives in the West and lobbies full time in behalf of the people of Burma. I subscribe to her Tweets and follow her at http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/

  24. 4 out of 5

    glenn boyes

    Having recently returned as a volunteer providing psycho-social support for a child protection team working in IDP camps in Kachin State of Myanmar/Burma, it was great interest that I began to read of Ms. Phan's story of her survival and work as a Karen refugee. My interest to learn more of the war against the Karen people was also increased by my friendship with one who did his doctoral research on the plight of trauma upon the Karen people, and I have personally seen pictures drawn by children Having recently returned as a volunteer providing psycho-social support for a child protection team working in IDP camps in Kachin State of Myanmar/Burma, it was great interest that I began to read of Ms. Phan's story of her survival and work as a Karen refugee. My interest to learn more of the war against the Karen people was also increased by my friendship with one who did his doctoral research on the plight of trauma upon the Karen people, and I have personally seen pictures drawn by children depicting the attacks they faced in their villages as so aptly described in this book. The first major part of the book was difficult to read. Lacking in cohesive organization, clearly in need of a much clearer editorial assistance, I forced myself not to give up. The story was for me too interesting to miss. Overall all story is deeply moving, reflecting the horrors inflicted upon the Karen people, and similar to the story of both the Kachin and Shan peoples in this very decade. The brutality of the military against the ethnic races of this country is horrendous. And tragically in recent weeks, we see again that brutality being played out in the west of the country and the plight of the Rohingya people. As I read this work in recent weeks, I was reminded again and again - nothing has really changed for the ethnic peoples of Burma/Myanmar.

  25. 4 out of 5

    H

    I have mixed feelings about this book. Partly, I feel people will give this book a high rating simply because it's a factual accounting of the horrors that people are suffering in Burma. Kind of a dick thing to do, give a low rating eh? I don't care. The book was fine, as far as content goes, I feel it's a good introduction in what's going on in Burma..but (God how can I phrase this) Zoya is an incredibly fortunate and lucky woman. Whilst she did live in and experience terrible conditions, she w I have mixed feelings about this book. Partly, I feel people will give this book a high rating simply because it's a factual accounting of the horrors that people are suffering in Burma. Kind of a dick thing to do, give a low rating eh? I don't care. The book was fine, as far as content goes, I feel it's a good introduction in what's going on in Burma..but (God how can I phrase this) Zoya is an incredibly fortunate and lucky woman. Whilst she did live in and experience terrible conditions, she was actually largely unaffected compared to many in Burma. Her story whilst terrible isn't horrifying and gut wrenching. The worst horrors she tells of are not her own. So if you want a glimpse into life in Burma in the last 20 years & to follow an interesting story of a young Karen woman who went from somebody who had nothing to a person with everything, this is the book for you. If you want the horror of war, blood and guts, front line fighting, this isn't the book for you. Also, what stopped this book from being 4 stars is the stupid ominous sentence at the end of each chapter, particularly in the first half of the book. It irritated me to no end, these cliched prophecies of doom. I felt it made the story feel comical and the sentences had no place being there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thinn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the beginning of the book, the author’s writing style was a bit chaos. She moved things around so quick but it was just writing down her childhood memories. Her writing style became more organized after she left the refugee camp. I had a glimpse of Karen culture and more detail of lives in IDP camps and refugee camps. I started to cry since her mother passed away. From then, everything seemed sad for me (Sorry for the spoiler). It’s true that her father is well known hero and she looked up to In the beginning of the book, the author’s writing style was a bit chaos. She moved things around so quick but it was just writing down her childhood memories. Her writing style became more organized after she left the refugee camp. I had a glimpse of Karen culture and more detail of lives in IDP camps and refugee camps. I started to cry since her mother passed away. From then, everything seemed sad for me (Sorry for the spoiler). It’s true that her father is well known hero and she looked up to him. But for me, her mother should get more credit. She is one of the bravest women that I know off. Her life long suffering is much more deeper than her last days of comfort life. 😭 I can’t stop crying when her father passed away too. 😕 (More spoiler) This book made me so much reflection of my life. I can more related to this book compared to ‘From the Land of Green Ghost.’ I wonder why no one had been translated this book in Burmese yet. Up until now, we still are fighting to get the democracy. We still have countless civil wars and thousands of people are still suffering. We need more ‘little daughter’ for our country.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meneesha Govender

    Zoya Phan grew up in a Karen village in the jungles of Burma. Her mother and father were both involved in the resistance movement against the military junta. But their children lived happy lives despite the encroaching army. Zoya's world is shattered at the age of 14, when her village is attacked by the Burmese army. She and her family and other refugees escape into the jungle and seek sanctuary across the border at a Thai refugee camp. She seeks asylum in London in 2004 and at a "free Burma" march t Zoya Phan grew up in a Karen village in the jungles of Burma. Her mother and father were both involved in the resistance movement against the military junta. But their children lived happy lives despite the encroaching army. Zoya's world is shattered at the age of 14, when her village is attacked by the Burmese army. She and her family and other refugees escape into the jungle and seek sanctuary across the border at a Thai refugee camp. She seeks asylum in London in 2004 and at a "free Burma" march the next year finds herself whisked away to speak on television and eventually becoming the face of an enslaved nation. The danger she faces these days is different. She is aware that as the voice of the oppressed she is now a marked person. This is Zoya's story. It is a testimony to her undying spirit, her impatience with self-pity and her unending courage in the face of constant danger. It is another story about a people's struggle for freedom that is largely ignored by the rest of the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shaeley Santiago

    As part of the Karen people from Burma, Zoya's family fights to improve conditions in their home country. While growing up, Zoya twice lives in refugee camps just across the border with Thailand. As she gets older, she becomes frustrated that nothing has improved in her country. Eventually, she follows in her father's footsteps and becomes a leader for campaigns in the U.K. to provide aid to Burma and put an end to the reign of the junta in favor of a democracy that will unite Burmese ethnic gro As part of the Karen people from Burma, Zoya's family fights to improve conditions in their home country. While growing up, Zoya twice lives in refugee camps just across the border with Thailand. As she gets older, she becomes frustrated that nothing has improved in her country. Eventually, she follows in her father's footsteps and becomes a leader for campaigns in the U.K. to provide aid to Burma and put an end to the reign of the junta in favor of a democracy that will unite Burmese ethnic groups. I found the story a bit choppy at times, so it took me a while to get into it. This was a very informative book, though, as I didn't realize that there were Karen who were Buddhist and animists. I've heard primarily about the Karen Christians. I also didn't know about all the ethnic groups in Burma like the Karenni.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Georgie

    This is a really interesting life story about an incredible woman; she has been through so much and got through it all with grace, positivity and determination, and established herself as a formidable figure in Burma's fight for democracy. Unfortunately, you can tell it wasn't written by a professional writer; I found the language and story-telling techniques quite repetitive and thought it had too much detail on fairly innocuous parts so I found it a bit of a slog to get through (except the las This is a really interesting life story about an incredible woman; she has been through so much and got through it all with grace, positivity and determination, and established herself as a formidable figure in Burma's fight for democracy. Unfortunately, you can tell it wasn't written by a professional writer; I found the language and story-telling techniques quite repetitive and thought it had too much detail on fairly innocuous parts so I found it a bit of a slog to get through (except the last 20ish % where the pace picked up so it became more gripping)...I'm glad I got to the end though - I learnt so much about the Burma civil war and it's made me want to read more on it. I think it will make a brilliant film one day!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

    Amazing story of a young woman with so much courage and strength to tell the world what is happening to her people in Burma. About what happens to all people of ethinic backgrounds in Burma. Other Burmese people are against the atrocities in Burma. For the uneducated of what is happening in Burma this is a complete eye opener. I never heard of this young woman before in the media or anywhere else and that is a shame. It is shameful that the rest of the world doesn't know of the goings on like Bu Amazing story of a young woman with so much courage and strength to tell the world what is happening to her people in Burma. About what happens to all people of ethinic backgrounds in Burma. Other Burmese people are against the atrocities in Burma. For the uneducated of what is happening in Burma this is a complete eye opener. I never heard of this young woman before in the media or anywhere else and that is a shame. It is shameful that the rest of the world doesn't know of the goings on like Burma and the people like Zoya Phan. I hope everyone reads this book and we begin to readdress the horrors in Burma and elsewhere.

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