The Stories of Knaw Bawk and Roi Ji
Story of Knaw Bawk
Knaw Bawk [Nah Baw] grew up in a Christian home. His mother and father were believers in Jesus. His father was a Burmese soldier. His home in the Kachin province has a strong Christian presence, at one time that province was 100% Christian. This is now problematic with a junta dictatorship whose stated purpose is to have one language, one country and one religion, Buddhism.
Knaw Bawk attended elementary and high school in Myitkyina his home town (marked with an “A” on the map). During his early years, his family feared for the safety of his older sister so she sought refuge at the Australian embassy and relocated there almost 26 years ago. Knaw Bawk attended college after high school completing four years while still living in the Kachin state.
During his young years Knaw Bawk began music lessons and learned to play the piano and violin. As a young man he and his friends played music for different local and regional events and activities. Even though Knaw Bawk was young in his Christian faith, he took a stand that led flight from Myanmar. It seems their village had completed the construction of a new Buddhist temple. A village leader came to him and asked him to play the violin for a folk festival that included a dedication ceremony of the temple. Knaw Bawk refused on religious grounds. The leader came to him a second and third time. The third time she said she could no longer assure his safety. With such a not-so-veiled threat Knaw Bawk knew he had to leave.
So in 2004 he traveled with a Kachin businessman south, to the Chin province of Burma and then west to the India border trading town, called Tia. After a couple of months, he moved to New Delhi, India where he began an 8 year exile. While in New Delhi he became active in the “All Kachin Student and Youth Union”. He took a job as a journalist working with the Mizzima news organization (www.mizzima.com). He translated stories from English into Burmese for ex-patriot Burmese who lived in India and elsewhere.
Meanwhile back in Myanmar, Knaw Bawk’s mother and younger brother had to also flee the Kachin province. They were accepted as refugees in Japan. While his aging father and younger sister were able to remain in Myitkyina. At this time this sister is in a refugee camp on the border of Kachin and China and the father is at home.
A bright joy came into Knaw Bawk’s life when he met Roi Ji for the first time in 2003 in New Delhi, India. They began dating, about the same time Knaw Bawk sensed a call to ministry. He began pastoring, while still working as a journalist, and started Bible College. He graduated in 2007 and the family (for now they had a son) received news that they had been accepted as refugees to the United States.
When Knaw Bawk’s family first came to the U.S. they were settled in New York City. They stayed there 3 weeks and with the encouragement of High Point friends relocated to the Triad. They said they like High Point, the climate and atmosphere is closer to their home state and this is where they want to be. Knaw Bawk is now the preacher of our Burmese language service, he is 36 years old and works at a local factory. Their son, Samuel attends the Stanley preschool on Brentwood and Roi Ji works at High Point University.
Story of Roi Ji.
Roi Ji [Reggie] left the Kachin state of Myanmar at age 26. She has two brothers and two sisters. She grew up in Burma, received her elementary, high school and college education before fleeing the country.
After college Roi Ji got a job with World Concern (NGO). The task of her team was to educate villagers regarding HIV. They would travel to different towns and talk about the prevention of this disease. During such discussions they would encourage women to oppose sexual harassment, promiscuity and teach them to avoid rape where they could be endangered with HIV.
One village they visited had a large military base nearby. The commandant of the village built a local bar complete with music videos, free-flowing liquor and beautiful women. While visiting that village Roi Ji spoke out against the sexual harassment and even rape associated with this bar. The next day the NGO team moved on to another village with their training sessions, but the villagers burned the bar to the ground.
Government military investigators went to Roi Ji’s home and to her World Concern leaders making inquiries about her. Her supervisor at World Concern said, we are non-partisan, we can’t help you, you need to leave. Roi Ji had to flee her home country. She traveled through Tia to New Delhi to start life as a exile from Burma.
While in New Delhi she took a position as the leader of the “Burmese Women of New Delhi”. Then she met Knaw Bawk and their story continues together.
I invite you to meet this highly educated couple, they understand English at 90-95%, Knaw Bawk has a lot of insight and wisdom and Roi Ji’s British accent is delightful.