Akha Chronicles
Book 1: Maesai
Chapter 52: Hope and Resolution



Hope and Resolution

Hope and Resolution as one chapter or two? Fix



Hope was a crucial factor in my work and it was also cruicial in keeping the Akha alive.  Often it could be the most evasive as well.


Hopes for the Akha

hold onto land

hold onto language and culture, way of life

simpler than our own, less costly to the earth

increasingly all such life styles are being stamped out under the feet of the consumption economy model refined in the west.


Hope Against Hope

I hope in people

I hope in the good way

I hope against the cynic

I hope that the old way is preserved

I hope in the joys despite hardship

I hope for the village

I hope for the evils people don’t know

that they never will

I hope for simplicity and innocence

I hope for acts of redemption in this life

I hope for the repair of the breach

I hope for poor children, poor people

I hope for the ugly, offensive, tired and lost

Here a little, there a little


Did I get this in intro?

But that still didn’t explain what I was doin way up here close to Burma.  Guess it was roundin out all the edges of life.

Course I was sure to still find out because there was a whole lot more writin to do, and writin, like reading, was something that explained a lot time you got done.  Course now I had one piece of the puzzle that I didn’t use to have, and that was heart book, least that is what the Akha called it.  That was the place they pointed to in the chest in this one kind of way, the finger comin up from below, curled like a hook, where everything important got written down.  And here I was spillin just a little bit of it out on paper knownin how much more there was up there in the heart book.


Hope and Holding on

Holding on when there was bills to pay, when so few saw the big picture and there were no funds to back up the big picture with good action.


Keeping the truck moving in the villages.

Keeping medicine flowing.

Developing village leadership.

Overcoming a major obstacle for a village (Pah Nmm Road Project)

Lacking sufficient fund raising skill


The Hope of this story


Hope Not Yet Arrived

This story is really about a journey to the destination of seeing a more hopeful future for the Akha.

In that sense, this story is not complete, as that goal has not yet been arrived at.

Sure, many small goals along the way have been, but that one has not been.


Working towards hope.

Looking for hope.

Boosting hope.

Desiring hope.

Remaining hopeful.


All these come into play in the hope for accomplishment of the goals to help these people and give them a greater grasp in their lives.



Why Not To Quit

Why Not To Quit From Helping The Akha


I wrote:

There is always work that can be done.  It depends on her temperment what she would most like

to do.

There are villages that she could go to and work with the kids.

Really up to her what her interest is,  but much that can be done.

As to your esperience here, keep in mind that helping people is useful.  Why, because most

everybody is a cynic and everytime you succeed you defeat people like that.

I keep my nose clean and be respectful to the Akha and try to understand the missing links.

But many people have tried to bury me and it hasn't worked.  I used to say that all you needed

here was to be able to go without food for five days, but its gotten a lot tougher than that.

You have an advantage that if you can survive the first onslaught of despair, whatever Akha

awareness and networking there is, its way better than it used to be.

I have collected incredible intelligence information on what is going on and I also know what it


I know Attu is caught in the twist of his own cloth or something, but he is still a player, as there

isn't a replacement yet.  It gives some cohesion, we can play along knowing it isn't much.  Meeh

Juuh knows about burn out and

she does get a lot of the ID card things done.  She needs to be training someone else to help


Attu will at least talk. 

What you deserve credit for is that you alerted me about Joh Hoh and I was able to at least

respond to the village and find out a very important incident before it was done AND film it. 

We are recording a pattern here.  Attu has known about many relocations and not said a word. 

Maybe it makes him feel inadquate, I don't know, but with the mess going on people got to lay

that aside.

There were two other relocations this year that he said nothing abou till over and they probably

could have been stopped.

Attu doesn't know where he is going so it isn't likely that he can invite you along.

As to your energy, don't let people destroy that, another plate of armour maybe, but the

redemption is when we can hold on and cheer ourselves on our own and know WHY we keep


#1The kids don't ask for this mess.

#2The old people and the adults minding their own business don't ask for it.

And most importantly it would give too many people satisfaction to shove the Akha head under

the water for the last time.

It is ok, maybe essential to work alone, because of all the hard times too, but that doesn't

preclude meeting and finding common grounds and sharing ideas.

But mostly it concerns me that you feel as your energy was not well spent, or is not valuable.

I am teaching someone right now how to read Akha, write it, and use it on the computer.  It is

very fast and then they are already teaching someone else.  Finding out who you can do this with

is mostly luck and takes a long time.

These people seem to live in a perpetual sheer wind, a maze of sheer winds, and no invested

energy lasts very long it would seem.

One has to do nearly everything themselves and hope something hangs in place for a moment,

pettishness, selfishness, lazyness, hoping someone else will predigest everthing and do it all.

But Thais will NEVER meet you half way so one is still way ahead with the Akha.

Many people have come here but not taken the time number one, to care, and number two, to find

out what is going on in a general sense, collective solutions rather than piece meal.  I know these

Akha who were trained by the mission but left due to disallusionment.  But they will never work

at making things better, they just want another "project" till the money is gone.  That is what they

learned at the mission.

Going back again and again at the problem is hard to suggest to them.

I have known several who came here due to academics or research and it allmost precluded them,

it did preclude them from being able to network because they had their mind made up and there

was this huge agenda pushing them.

Working with the Akha one has to have very vague agendas, because one really doesn't know

what intricacies are effecting everything, and the timing of it all.

But once again there is common ground that can be worked on.


For instance, here are a number of issues:


1. Lack of networking

2. FORESTRY, this is major.

3. Removals of children from the villages (cause it helps forestry)

4. Finding investors in tried crops like tea, coffee, fruit trees.


Another thing that I have found is that in a community that is getting its first educated or well to

do people, they are invariably making mistakes with it which is normal and their right.

I also find that some of these educated Akha can be the most lethally critical, slandering, yet they

would never do for their own people what I have even done over the years and I'm not so sure I

owe these people anthing, nor to take abuse for trying to help.

That can be very discouraging and more than likely you'll hear it third hand, not from the person

themselves which of course makes it even more fun.

I remember this one time that I heard they were calling me to this village and so finally on about

the third call I got suspicious so I figured something was up so I went.  There was the whole

damn village up to meet me and the meeting grew in the headmans house till the whole village

was there and this one person just slandered me royally.  It wasn't a big surprise, but not what I

like to be audience for, so I told all the elders that it was not a true fact and why and they said

they agreed, that I was not in the wrong on anything, but the damage really had already been

done.  So I took a video camera and video taped this other person telling what had really

happenened and hauled that and a TV over the mountain and set it up in the village and played it

for everyone, at which point I really  had to say nothing further, but it goes to illustrate that

things are hard enough here, that people are WAITING to take you down from every side, and

few are interested in helping the future, but many can see it when you do.

You do it for those people.

There is no real reason that most people would accept for why I continue to stay on, sure I gave

you those reasons above, but that is just mostly theory and idealism to most people, they would

never stay.

I think it is worth it, I think that there are very good things to be kept in tact and fought for, and

certainly there is an incredible tyranny in Thailand to be fought.

Really it all adds up to our take on human justice and evil you might say.

Evil is against all people. Some people make themselves an instrument of it, and it cuts them too,

but it really has mercy to no one.

Some people grip evil to use it so firmly, or to be used by it so firmly, that they make themselves

a target for our opposition, maybe one day they see the light, maybe not, rather their problem

when it gets to that point of extremity.

But evil in itself is something very worth fighting because it takes such pride in making a mess

of things so often.

The other reason that people work alone here, or I would advise it, is that you are a unit, try, find

out what works, be realistic effort by effort, but collaborate, maybe one day it gets to be a

network.  So far I see you making some effort to do that.  People here don't trust anyone

because the people that are here already are so cut throat.

And very few people have the staying power to believe in ANYTHING for very long, be it

westerners or Akha.  To the westerners it is a sport, they don't realize it will stop being that if

they stay long enough to beat the devil a little bit at his own game.

But they leave first and I am not referring to you.  Its like when people come along and tell me

what swell guy I am and what wonderful work I am doing but don't stay long to help and sure

not long enough to see how tough it is to keep the doors open through thick and thin and not

have a clue where the money will be coming from.

Then the other half turn around and say that anyone who would do that has got to be a real

asshole so you can't win for loosing.

Anyway,  I think that a short list could be made and gone over of what the problems are and how

to triangulate them in such a way as to punch both ears at the same time.

You do realize the US Gov gave Thailand $3.7 million to fight drugs.  None of it will be for

poverty alleviation.

They have been playing this game for years.  In my opinion, one arm needs the Akha to grow

the opium, and one arm needs the problem to play this dynamic balance they are building over

china and the road to Rangoon, so that the weapon and cop makers can profit the biggest, I track

this extensively and have been very direct with the people in Bangkok about the hypocrisy of it


Then when you start finding out that the people in Bangkok have a real cozy relationship with

the missions, you start to get the picture and it looks a whole lot like profiling does in the US,

cept they aren't under their own law here.

The US Gov wants war games and war toys and police state over drugs like the Andean

Initiative, and they don't care what extermination the Thai government does with it on the side by

taking land away, heavy arrests within the male population, etc.

Now when you have the missions targeting the girls to take them away on the other hand in light

of all that, what do the men have to live for?

It leaves incredible despair in the villages.

AS well I have pretty good proof that US Gov, missions, and heroin exports are one and the

same, so it really is a hypocrisy that stinks to high heaven here when they start talking darkness

and bondage and drugs and how all the Akha need Jesus and forestry or the chinese grab off

more of their land.

That's why I don't quit.  Gets to be fun, everytime someone I don't know sends me another email

and shows me where to go to turn over another turd and find one of these people resting

comfortably under it.

Poverty doesn't just happen.

Work "alone" in a way, keep your expenditures really low, work on finding out information and

networking.  My general opinion is that there never will be much money for this work because it

is the right thing to do and people don't give to that, they need a more sinister agenda, least a big

face for what they give.



He  wrote:

This wasn't an easy e-mail to respond to.  Yes, I am down at the moment, especially on the

Thais but even on the Akha.  It is too easy to paint it black or white because as we both know

there are bastards and saints in all communities - from the Christians to the Thais to the

Akhas.  I am struggling to try to figure out where I fit into it all.  I came over with lots of

ideas how to make things better based on my readings and experiences in India.  Of course

everyone sensed that energy and stoked it more.  However, no one really wanted to get on the

wagon with me, they just wanted to see what I would do and Athu was hoping I would find

him some money.  He of course didn't want to give me any say in any matters and was yes,

very fearful of stepping on toes.  It sounds like he has had some bad experiences of his own. 

I think if I was to work with the Akha again, I would need to find some young Akha who

aren't so jaded and have a fire in their bellies.  I know some good people who have expressed

an interest but it is a matter of getting it all together and then finding the funding.  Yes, you

are also right about economics and how it affects "giving back."  It would be idiotic of me to

assume a family on the edge of starvation would have any energy to donate their time or

money.  I also forget what a lucky position I come from and that I have the finances and

education to do this.  It seemed to be rewarding at first but I came to realize that if you are in

it for the reward, you will only be disappointed.  I'm impressed you've kept at it so long - I

have lost 90% of my drive and am seriously questioning this whole idea of charity and getting

involved in other cultures.  You are also right about Thai culture, there is corruption to the

bone.  It isn't just contained to politics, it filters right down to people you and I have to deal

with on a regular basis.  I've met many good Thais but I have met so many that just put on a

good face to see what they can get from me.  Anyhow, one of my biggest criticisms of you

was that you were working alone but quite frankly I can't really see any other way.  A friend

from England just got to CR.  She dropped out of Uni because it seemed useless for her so

she is itching to do some good work.  If you have any good ideas where she would be useful,

let me know and I will tell her.

Take care and talk to you later.


I wrote:

I know that maybe we don't agree on some things or not, not made my mind

up on that, but I would say that you are one of the few people who has

come here in ten years for other than a joy ride and TRY to do


That is to your credit.

In ten years I have seen enough despair here, personal despair, I mean

what is left over in my heart when I get to where ever I am going to

sleep. This wasn't about what all was going on in the villages, but how

I was going to stay here any longer and all the events had an effect on

my energy to be able to do this and also personal setbacks or extreme


Things like people raging at me over a bill or rent that still wasn't


And sometimes I only got the jerk routine in the village.

Many times I had to search for one good reason to continue, since

leaving means going to far place away so it is inconvenient to change

ones mind after having dumped all.

And sometimes the ONLY reason was because the kids didn't ask for all

the bs that was being dumped on them making them suffer, and many adults

suffered in the same mess who weren't jerks.

In any community there are the priveledged, those with the most

educational or situation resources.

In the Akha community I was discouraged when these people pissed it all

and didn't do what they might to help their own.

But if I compared their location to a person of similar location in the

west relative status wise in their own community I could not single the

Akha out.

They were no worse. However, when a society has more luxury, more of

the people at the top will start to give back. Its a matter of

percentage and there really isn't this big pool of Akha's at the top in

Akha society.

And then if you compare it to Thai society, the Akha are maybe ahead.

The Thai give NOTHING.

They lie and cheat relentlessly.

Even the academic Thais I know, do very little to help anyone.

They tell me by email how helpless they are.

In a look around one finds that marriages by foreigners to the hilltribe

are usually the marriages that last the longest in Thailand as compared

to being married to a Thai, and I think this is in part because many of

the hilltribe, christian or no, have a pretty deep sense of what

deception is in the cases where it matters.

The second reason I stayed on was because so many people found it

convenient to think of the Akha as chatel.

This was not the fault of the Akha.

One means that I have used to understand the Akha situation better and

know why I don't get a response one way or the other is that village

life, the shear survival effort of it, requires people to move relevant

to what they have to do that day. If they have to do a field, they don't

volunteer to go anywhere. This is particularly true in cases of such

events as we deal with. To them it is done, they don't see much hope of

investing in it as a means of preventing it from happening again,

because they don't often have the energy, they rather go on and HOPE it

won't happen again, which I think is often not sufficient.

The community can only continue to take so much punishment.

Just the same, I don't know if one day I am going to wake up and feel I

am done doing.

That is not to say I will ever come to the point that I think that I

wasted my time.

I know I didn't, cause I have checked and rechecked as I went along to

make sure I would not end up in that position.

It takes a lot of time to try and figure out what is helpful to people,

when people need help, etc.

I don't know if its ever an easy call.

I have repeatedly tried to coordinate with Thai NGO's.

Not much luck, they are maximum avoiders.

Attu has much followed on that direction, but he is very honest with me

to tell me that there is this or that response on a case, or lack of it,

from these or those people because of fear.

I think this is the case of this murder as well.

San Chai Gow -Pattana, and those places are a real mess.

They are a mess in part because they are closer to Mae Chan, including

Pah Dooh Akha, also a mess. The Thais depended on them for meth and

heroin and opium for all the ten years I have been here and beyond. One

day a cop is using, five minutes later ten other cops are on the bust.

The Thais don't try to coordinate ANYTHING with the Akha for the most

part so there isn't anything like a liason office similar to the Thai

Burma Border Committee.

So there can be a really big differences in the villages and also one

must always watch their back side.

Not a nice deal overall.

The litmus test is that when there is a situation which definitely is

not the Akha's fault, there is no means of appeal or anyone who they can

call in to be a go between for them.

That is lacking and until that happens nothing will go much.

Attu doesn't step into that job and I think once again it is fear. He

stays busy administering, but I don't find reports of him being

corrupt. Maybe he eats some money, but mostly he just spends energy

carefully and stays out of the fear zone.

The Akha are pounced on for everything they do, both by army and police.

It continues to be a very difficult situation.

As you may know, there is a lot of Hmong agitation going on, both

defensive on their part and against them by the Thais trying to wip up

the ole hill vs. lowland people gig.

However the Hmong are powerfully established in the US and elsewhere

and a great deal of awareness is going to benefit the Akha because of the

Hmong situation.

Generally no body is going to give funding to help the hilltribe much,

and we can not expect much change in government structure. I was amazed

that they started moving on ID cards, but of course they are gouging,

and also they have simultaneously sped up their land seizures.

In the very best villages I have experienced seeing the fear at a

catatonic level among the Akha, both as regular people and as headmen.

They know very well that anything the do that rocks the boat will bring

retaliation, and even when I was involved it brought it.

However I have seen that as I was working with some of the sticky

situations for a while, and after a few confrontations, they became to

know that I was not demanding rediculous things nor appearing to demand

massive change quickly.

I would push and then back way off. It has afforded some villages some

increased security as well as the fact that the Thais came to find out

that I wasn't going to surprise them like I was some cowboy or

something, sticking my finger in their eye all the time.

I found it very good to push, back off, or even pretend it wasn't me.

They were very accepting of that.

They sort of know I am "around" in some cases, but that may be all they


And I generally avoid them cause they are not going to have anything to


I do know some good admin people and Thais married to Akha who have

quite a heart for the Akha in some ways, but they aren't going to take

it anywhere.

They might work on an Akha project if they got paid, but not much more

than that.

I hope you are not too discouraged by all of this.



He wrote:

Yes, I agree about other orgs not doing much. I heard of Akha

Fellowship run by a guy named Atthui that supposedly has funds

available for this. Honestly, I am a bit fed up with the lying that I

have been subject to by both the Akha and Thais. It is a bit of

culture shock so at the moment, I am asking myself, why the hell do I

want to help anybody, they don't even seem to want to help themselves

 (as a group) only themselves individually?

Regarding the Akha informant, I may have just stumbled on him as I

think he is the father of a student at AFECT. I went to Samukimai and

asked the girl what her father did and she said he works at Sam Yaak

with the police. When I asked him directly about the death, he didn't

want to talk about it and said "it is over." There is a good chance

it is the same guy.

Another thing that concerns me though is that the family never

contacted me or Chem, the lawyer even though it was my own efforts

that got HADF involved as well as the Akha lawyer. Why not call and

say "thanks but we decided to accept the money?"

Basically I agree about money. I've decided volunteering in Thailand

isn't going to solve much. I think it is better if I focus on making

some money and then I will have a voice in terms of getting things

done. I don't like it but that is the only thing that motivates 95%

of the people here. I don't think there is such a thing as altruism.

Talk to you,


Other Hope




Akha Why?




My own hopes and dreams had gotten mixed in with that of and for a people and I cou ldn't keep them straight any more.  Maybe it was living in denial by diversion but there was no denying what I swa all about me.

Sometimes I had to back away from it, deny what passed before my eyes, what had solidified in the front of my brain so I could try and rememeber who I was, if I had any dreams that were my own, if I had any moment to live that wasn't a crisis and if there wasanything unique to myself that might serve to replenish me.

People can say what they wish regarding the use of one's time, limits and where you have to draw the line, none of that is real.  The child I left behind in the hut, feverish for days, thin of only bones, frefusing to eat and maybe 7 years old, ready to die, how do I get that out of my mind.  I h ad no money, no where to take her, and not much to offer.  Not the first time.  I had to leave the milk, but for the moment she would not drink it and I had to go.  My mind never could though.

There were many stories like that, and I was tired of fighting, tired of rubbing two stones together hoping for a solution.

There was a funeral on the hill.  An old woman had died and there was to be two days of festive funeral.  I would go but the chain on my motorbike was bad, no money for gas as there was no money to help the child either.

And it wasn't going to do any good to try and figure it out, to be philosophical.  There was just only so much money and for me that wasn't very much.


All The Akha Villages

Notes Aug 30, 1999

There were more than a few Akha vilages in Thailand alone, scattered from mountains to lowlands, in all states of flux and health. I say more because of all the villages in Burma and Laos.

The villages needed more visits, systematic visits at least to put them all on the map for the first time and the kind of services, needs they had.

Akha song, dnace and stories were the core of the work that I had not yet done also.  For that  needed to hire some people on some occasions.

There was also much photography and video work to do, visiting here and there.  I was campaigning for their right to their culture as well, free from missionaries.  So that left much for me to do.

As my work and understanding of the needs of the situation and apprepriate solutions developed  was having to reasses my efforts.  It was important to find joy in my work as well, not just work myself to exhaustion.

To have reasons for joy.  I had reasons but possesed little joy much of the time.

There was too much that was not done for me to feel a lot of joy, I felt a constant pressure and urgency from this.  Seeking peace and finding it was hard.

I wanted to travel to the more distant Akha places as well, and to do this I needed a break.



This story has to be about hope or I can not go on here, not on the tiny resources that I run on.

I suppose some would ask, "Can we care too much?" but I think that this is usually asked by those who do nothing, and of course it is up to the person, not to be compared, I choose to do this so I do it, I don't attach any importance to what I do, its a job I want to do and I do it.

I work to keep as many Akha alive as possible.


On Helping, Hope and Evil

When you helped people or gave th em a break usually it was only you that understood it.  Some kind of fool.  Hey, take advantage of this offer.

One went through hard times.  A lot of people didn't. So when you make the assumption that they are in need and hey, why not help out, they see a fool I think sometimes.

And then so often the good you try to do for the poor gets ruined by relentless stupidity on a collosal scale. How could you know that there is almost no collective knowledge about the present world.  No perception of how to protect the future.  Everything is expendable in the immediate sense so nothing is waited for till gain is had, learning or knowledge can be had and thus the cycle will repeat itself.  A few, a very few make it out.

People in churches throw in a few coins but if they came to these places they would get a clear view of what the size and nature of evil was.

Evil is a wrecker.  It is almost everything going wrong, the wheel rolling back over the workmen who built the road.  It is the parent crushing the child because they have joy and talent.

It is the parent sending the daughter to Bangkok.

It is the parent sending the daughter to work in a kitchen instead of school.

Marriage is a solution instead of education.   Some rich Chinaman.


Learning Hard Things Does Not Have to make you hard

I learned many hard lessons working with the Akha, not understanding fully what was going on or what was happening quick enough and paying with my money and also with my soul.

I saw things happen which were such painful experiences, failures of others, failures of myself that I figured that the pain, the sadness which was so deep, that it became beautiful like a bird plummeting to the earth, showing you all its feathers at once, letting you pick it up and look slowly at how perfectly its feathers and wings are made as you turn it over but it is DEAD, very dead, yet it was so beautiful that it was beautiful even in death, feelings so deep and perfect that they told you how much and wonderfully you were alive, that there could be things so intensely beautifuland perfect and unspoilt in life, and sometimes when they crash up it is to tell us that they are there or we would never have guessed or dared to hope or would have thought maybe it was all for free.

Ah Meeh was one such story, I never had anything or anyone sneak up on me like that and effect me so profoundly, particularly in its passing.

Meeh Yuuh from Pah Nmm Akha.


Logic and Religion


How does God come through? Mostly not or does he?

Not unless you got some kind of bizarre logic unless you look at it more slowly.  He comes through I think but slower than we think and then we think He didn't.

For the beggar on the street in deep poverty?

Sometimes I want to say no, not in any way that we would call hope.

So what gives?  Life goes on.  We see people suffer.  Some of us try to do something about it, then we evn get tired of trying after a while.

God delivers supplies.  When He does, if he does, we can distribute them.

We mimic and listen to others mimic all the things we think God does or should do with n knowledge of our own experience to add to that as proof.

I think God comes through, I hope in it, I am prudent each time he does come through, least I try to be.

And then people subscribe to a belief system, an agenda and mug the facts to make them fit rather than have a somewhat flexible or improvable belief system that gets adjusted by proven experiences to be more exact.

Myself, I have seen God come through for me in my work with the Akha many times.  Because of picking to do this job and not quit, I have suffered many times in bad situations.  But I am more and more relaxed, and see God come through more times these days, or maybe it is that I am looking for it more so I notice it more, in a kind of relaxed patience be hope be expectation.  And with no security here he comes through with cash to keep me going, better than he used to, I used to really suffer in poverty here, not having food, not having a dime, many years like that.  People would never believe how poor I was or how hard it was to not know all what was going on, yet still cling to a vision, try to learn more and one day get to where you could be effective and see your dream come true.

Maybe some would say that it was fate.  God helps now but didn't them?

I don't know, all I know is that I pray and I wait to fix things that I don't have it at my hand to fix right today.  I don't know how I will fix them so I must pray and wait and work my brain, but you can only do so much of the latter till you are worn out and then it is nice, since some people don't believe God is there for them, to have him to talk to and ask for help to solve the problem.  So the others think they can't do that and don't, me, I like the luxury, the wonderfulness of being friends with God, having a friend like that, as many friends, yet one that you can confide in when most other people are not listening, like wake up and talk to Jesus and get no back talk. 

People take deep kindness and God has a lot of that too.


Good things

A few kind things.

Hope in good things.

Good events, redemption, kindness, protection of what is kind and gentle, unspoiled and the restoration or redemption of what has been broken.



Selfishness one can understand but selfishness wihch will destroy itself rather than gain more is difficult to perceive.

Ask for as much as you like, will get more than if you want to be selfish and not ask.

Be constructively selfish.



Unification of self

Implanted seed.

Maybe joy was the absence of wrongness, brokenness and internal strife?

Joy happens.

A friend of mine and I had been talking of this. He had been looking for joy all his life and now was old.  We talked, I thinking it was the absence of anthing that blocked it.  You didn't have joy, you got rid of what blocked it, and it was behind all that, always there, not something you got or needed to get, was my thinking.

In my work I need joy, it is crucial each time for going on.

After I had closed the Maesai office following the Sept 11 WTC attacks I began to fully live in the mountains in the villages.  This made new logistical prolems for me and then the truck blowing up stopped me real bad.  I had to wait in Chiangrai for all the  money and so I typed all my writing which was left to be typed into the computer.  Had been putting this off for a very long time.

Steady life with the Akha was overwhelming by times but a good thing.

I immediately set to stop the tortures, killings, beatings, and shootings.

There were many army camps next to many villages, like parasites.

One of the great difficulties was the need of investment money for the villages.

The mission had a fortune for colonizing these people while few had funds for investment. 

Assistance or taking ownership?

Amid this I tried to keep, to remember, to fall back into joy when I could, to try and understand the personal mechanics of joy.

Often I was overwhelmed by the tragedy around me.


Freedom Is in the mind

Jesus is not a religion.

Such peace.



I think prayer is preceded b y faith, but faith is best preceded by a loving relaxed trust.  Of the trust comes fulfilled faith, I think this is true.

The words of Jesus are so often ignored.  I feel we react to the endless lessons imposed on us that it would block much enjoyment of the reading.



Caring for things and people. Caring for your own heart.

Kindness and great concern for others and one's self in life.


Hope 2000 Dec

I guess what kept me going was I kept making progress, months by months, year by year.  I had it figured total catchup to finish all the projects what I wanted to finish.

After that it would be repetition.


Other Hope

28.  In the afternoon sunlight, the air pleasantly warm, the shadow coming, we can see the gold on the light cast face of the child, coming to seek their parents with their eyes, to reach out and back to them, in a life where they are becoming increasingl on their own, the memories of the sun cast on the old wooden brown floor of the house in long beach where the Hayes lived and we stayed on e summer.

Such things are in our memories.  First cameras, pictures in black and white, neighborhood streets, the corn dog, watching ants, shooting tomatos and mashing tomato worms, watering them, watering lawns and tending yards, all so small for real people, with my father that year.

Dotty, Mr. Hayes very odd flame.  Things strange and gone odd, we saw him once, he came and full of mercy to the human state.  They went as missionaries to Africa one time.  Just live life how about it?

29.  Nathan sent one email.  We are not enemies but not such friends.  He maybe would see to have life relate as older and yunger brother and I am not into this.   Wouldrather honesty and descussion.  That is all.


Jesus Christ

Eternal Life



A list of themes.


What they didn't teach about Jesus to the Akha

Lover, hope, caring for your neighbor, faith

Don't destroy the good

Don't speak evil


Hope In the End

We wanted a belief that was based on a structure we could understand, God, as a friend, not just harsh master, allowing us to be human but calling us to be greatly human without always holding before us the goals we could never attain.  Not breaking us down to teach us how to be coming up but pulling for the hope all from the start, as uniquely scottish or Akha or both.

And most of all that people should live mercy in this life, redemption in this life to other people, not just pretending to save it all for the next life and do nothing of value here in the way of redemption.

Serve.  Yet in all the difficulty find and bring always  hope and joy.  Ah yes, joy the fruit of the spirit which apepared worst neglected in all the teachings of the church as so few had it.


Have you ever tried to describe a noise?


Elements of Prayer

Deep wisdom focused on problems

Inspection within


Great Expectation



Redemptive Actions

Is there only redemptive words and belief or is there also redemptive actions.

Can you have redemptive actions without redemptive beliefs behind.  Will it happen without it.  I would think not.


Each Day

Each day is for rejoicing.

Each day so full of sense, sights, freedom.  Understand.  Understand yourself.  Be in Unity internally.

All the places I go, all the things I see.


Hope and Vision Live Together To Keep Us Going.  Vision Gives Us Hope


Justice, hope or resolution?

Finding Justice:

Justice is important, it allows people to take care of themselves.  In order to do that they must have access to a means to make their greivances heard.  Access to resources to compensate for loss.  If the Akha are loosing resources at a faster rate than they are finding new resources, then the ultimate results are obvious.  They need to both find compensating resources as wells as means by which to stop exploitation.

Many times the problems of the poor are addressed, how to develop, how to find economic income, but nothing pointing to the loss of resources. One can talk all they want about development, but if this is done while ignoring all that is being lost, it becomes a mockery.  But more likely and worse yet, all the talk of development is really part of the deception of de-development, because while promising something good, there is a major transfer of resources going on, a destroying of food security, and in the end the math points to a great lie, carefully engineered from the get go.


Methods That Don't appear to work:


The Poor Action Model

With the advent of the internet, we can see that some NGO's aren't hacking it, but even in the discussion forums there is not the mind to engage in action steps to solve problems.  Lots of talking and theory, and these are forums where people can say what they want.

People want to talk about how bad the poor have it but they would not do much for the poor.

Feminists speak much about equality but seldom about equality as it applies between women of different societies and races.  That is not what they mean by equality?  Is an Akha woman as equal as a Thai woman before the courts, or as equal as an American woman when it comes to getting a passport?  Who is fighting for that?

People came in from this or that country, big ideas, big projects, but when the money ran out, they hadn't even learned how to skip rope yet and were gone.

All the Akha heard was a noise, like a big fat jet trying to jump down on a short runway, but making a touch and go instead, and time they got their neck craned around to see, the jet was gone, and so was the project, but the real life situations were still there, mostly unchanged or made worse.

Only helping to get the  money from a project, no vision to help the people beyond that and the money that it can bring.  Thus when the project stops so does the work and hope and vision.

Not very creative or inspiring.

It ended up being wasted resources and wasted time because few were concerned that the causitive factors changed, that in the end they hadn't only helped the Akha in some limited way but had made real changes for them that would give them a chance to make their lives collectively better when the projects were all done.

Even some of the Akha had gotten trained on the project model, just seeking this or that project to hop aboard, but once again, not much outcome, it was just money till it was gone.




In a life woven more and more with the Akha, it is more than assisting them, it is a matter of working as an advocate for them but also learning to live among them, my children Akha now, myself having to act as one of them in many ways, though I don't think I can fully be Akha when I know so little of their life, their perspective on life, the make up that drives them as a people against such great odds.  Do they think of hope in the same way?  Just what is it they cling on to?  I write about them, about discovery, coming from a vastly different world, their language, my work with it, but what it is to me apart from what I want to do with it.  There was so much about the tales the old people told me that I want to understand, their explanations of their lives.

And that was to say nothing about their vast knowledge of the plants, animals, soil, insects, weather and fluctuation in the world around them which they lived in.  I was sad that so much of my work got overshadowed just fighting for their human rights.  There was many a time when I just wanted to pull up my legs in an Akha village and not go out to any other world, to just shut it all out and live completely in the Akha cycle of life.  I do have to go out, to many other villages, to the west, to the computer, but more and more, my attatchment to the Akha way of doing things builds in continuity.

My interest is to know more and more about their cuture, not in a general sense alone, but in a specific sense, the oral histories, the oral poems and songs and what it all means why, trying to see the world a little bit as they see it if that is possible.

They belong to something.  They come from something long and unique, the chain unbroken.  There is great loss for those who have had their past broken, the connection to who they are destroyed and made senseless.  They look for meaning in places it is not and they can not find it, always lost, robbed of the values of being human and connected, as to who they are. 

The Akha I know and meet have a deep faith and assumption about God.  I think that if you want God, or seek God, it will always take you to the same place.  Everyone everywhere.

The exclusiveness of God concept I question, that one people can own  him, when all people are seeking him, disconnected from him like they are disconnected from their past and who they are, even disconnected from themselves.


Insert Properly


Insert Hope



Hope: How I saw it

I worked with the Akha for years. I hadn't given up.  I felt it was my job, that there were not enough others who were doing it or going to do it.  I seldom found anyone on a battered Akha road, there to help the Akha, and this was unfortunate, as it would have been nice to have company.  I got tired. There wasn't much help, and often my soul existed on vapors only, not hope.  When you got no water, you think about it, you remember it, but then after a while your mind fatigues even of that, and you know you'll make it and all the memories will come back or you won't. But you don't keep on thinking about water when you don't have any for a long time.  But I kept on.  Things fell down, were torn down, I built them up again.  I hoped endlessly.

If one wanted to look for all the reasons to quit there were plenty, but I learned not to look there. I learned not to speak bad of others, nor to speak of  bad things.  I learned to kick out the people who did too.  My souls and the souls of others could not take the endless litany of such things that were way too true and true soon enough each time we turned around to speak of them more than when we had to.

I looked so often for just one tiny place or another where my hopes could spring to life like a flame and give birth to success and the reward of hoping so long.

I believed that things could be, and I didn't like people who wouldn't even bother to try and think for a better event, a better reality, for themselves or others.  I didn't mind if people thought selfishly to get something good, even that was rare enough, getting people to hope for selfish reasons would at least be progress. Getting them to hope for the good of others would be just fine too.

I didn't single the Akha out as lacking hope.  Maybe we had too much good and too much hope in the west to where people didn't know what it was like to crawl out on the plain and not see one crumb of hope anywhere.  Maybe that is why western people sometimes treaded on hope for fun or scoffed at it.

Many western people found it easy to diminish my hopes and goals to help the Akha, after all if I hoped for nothing, maybe it made it easier on them in their fun life some how, rather than reminding them what all they had with the poor standing always in the door.  Was a lot easier than saying,
"gee, Matthew, what do you need and how could I help you get it done?"




Progress and Hope after ten years

A lot happens, too much happens to get it all written down.

Raising money to support the work takes up a lot of my time and energy and I am not good at it.

As time went by I chalked up one success after another either on a phase of a project or discovering information that fit a piece into the puzzle, explaining situations and events.  My skill at the language and understanding of the culture grew very slowly.  I could not afford a tutor which I would have enjoyed immensely.  Many of the Akha were very impatient with me that I did not have more money to help them with.  This was also a frustration of the work, but the nutritional situation in the village alone was such that it made it fairly easy for me to overlook this criticism on their part.  They saw westerners as having lots of money, and I did not, and this was not much help to them, like coming to a party empty handed, only this was no party, they were dying on all sides, especially the children.

It causes me to groan to think all of the years it has taken me to survive and advance the work.  The advent of ATM machines, the internet, computers and email did much for getting the word out about the project, but attracting or gathering money was never my strong point.  I kept on with the work just the same, could easily point to stages of progress, as frustratingly slow as they were.  Many times work that I started fell apart when the money ran out and I had to set it up again, when I got more money, calling the people back to go to work again.  Many did not come back in disgust, which they made very clear, and this was some of the most discouraging parts of the work.  On the absolutely worst days, the children were the only excuse I could come up with for keeping on, trying to help them and make their lives somehow more sure and healthy.

I became increasingly invested in wanting to make sure that the children were told truthfully about their culture, that being Akha was good, that it was beautiful, that it had incredible history and poetry, and most of all it was who they were and that they didn't need to feel ashamed no matter how anyone spoke of them.  They were unique people, they had a story all their own, and it was a story different from what other people had, an uncommon story, carefully remembered and lived, high in the mountains, but always under attack by less than kind people.

Once I decided to quit.  I wanted something different and to go to Africa.  I left and went.  But while there for a few weeks only, I kept pulling a photo from my pocket of Akhas in a village filled with fog, surrounded by jungle, mud, pigs, children, their black and colorful outfits, and I forlornly thought of all I had invested and that now it would come to nothing, that all I had learned had left with me and no one would do anything good with any of my memories unless I went back and took it up again myself.  So I did.  I did not often look back after that, and only laughed in scorn at those who could not bother to see what carried me on, the dreams I saw so slowly unfolding like a very large butterfly hanging from a great tree.

The Akha came to find that I didn't go away, or least I seemed to always hang on and come back.  Some of them openly hated me for disappointing them by being so broke.  Some spoke very nastily and mocking of me, never asking themselves why I didn't just reach into my pocket and pull out my passport and go home where I could knock down a couple thousand dollars per month working in construction and eating all the best foods, watching movies, going on trips here and there, and not sweating anyone's load.

But with time, even they fell silent.

Others came to realize that I could not work miracles, when I had money I helped, when I didn't I was also frustrated at not being able to do much.

I built a store in one village for Ah Zeh to see what he could get going for his family and since the village needed one.  He is good hearted and is building it up slowly but I don't think it will make it as I look now because the family is too poor, he is the younger brother and I think the older brothers will not allow that it succeed.  But he has a lot of ambition of his own.  The store did close and later he went to Malaysia for a  year.

His younger brother Ah Gah has been learning to read from Mooh Dzurh and then taught night classes to the children in the village.  He makes the children sing a song to the group when they come to the chalk board and this is a lot of fun to watch and very hilarious.  Especially the young boys and they are so outgoing and like actors when compared to how sober we had to be in school.  Three strikes and you are in the hall.  Discipline is fine but you don't do well when you are only afraid.







Have a comment or question? Like to know more? Send me an email at akha@akha.org
Copyright 2004, by Matthew McDaniel