Since his arrival at Saviour, Matthew has served faithfully as thurifer at Mass, assuming this responsibility after waiting 10 years to finally come to America.
Mathew was born in Taw Goon, also Bah Tway’s home town. Like Bah Tway – his second cousin – Matthew left Burma because of the continued fighting between Karen and Burmese.
He, his wife, and children fled to a camp called Mae Ramoe, where they lived for 10 years in very crowded conditions under the complete control of the Thai authorities. In fact, if a refugee left the camp in an effort to escape, they were apprehended by the police and put in jail.
Always committed to working to support his family, Matthew was a teacher in Mae Ramoe, and when he arrived in America, he was employed at Atlas Laundry. Because he was required to work on Sundays – and miss Church attendance – he sought employment at Stickley.
While in the camp, Matthew attended and served in two Anglican Churches: St. Paul and St. Francis. It was his experience there which led him to Church of the Saviour.
Like Bah Tway, Matthew was finally given permission to leave the camp, and after paper work and interviews, he undertook the long journey with his wife and 6 children.
Matthew is grateful to his sponsor “Pamela” and Bah Tway’s son-in-law, Stone Saw, for the assistance they provided upon his arrival in Syracuse.
Proud of his heritage, Matthew wants the church community to know that Karen are good people who believe in God and attend church faithfully, a fact that is easily observable each Sunday at Church of the Saviour.
A JOURNEY of FAITH TOWARD FREEDOM & A NEW HOME
This is the story of our own BahTway, the hardships he endured to come to America, and the freedom he has found here for himself and his family.
Bah Tway was born in a village called Taw Goon, Burma, on the border with Thailand. This was an area that had been the site of constant warfare between the Burmese and the Karen, Bah Tway’s people. There was great poverty there, and Bah Tway felt that he had no country to call his own.
Finally, he had the opportunity to flee with his wife and two children. They walked for a full day into Thailand, where they were interned in a refugee camp called Mae La. They remained there for 23 years, waiting for the opportunity to come to America.
While in the camp, several of his children were born. They attended the school there, studying 7 subjects, including English. They were taught by volunteers from other countries who were, themselves, Karen.
Within the camp there were several churches, among them, St. John’s Anglican, and it was here that Bah Tway and his family worshiped.
Life in the camp was extremely difficult, as the Thai administration was completely in charge. They provided the food for all of the Karen, and there was no opportunity for growing or raising animals because the area was so crowded. Again, Bah Tway felt that he had no opportunity to experience independence and no country to call his own.
Finally, word came that he and his family could leave. After filling out the requisite paperwork and obtaining passports, they left on a trip which began with a bus ride and continued on by plane to Japan, Chicago, and, finally to Syracuse, New York.
At first Bah Tway and his family had nothing, but they were helped by Interfaith Works, and eventually, they found homes and soon developed a strong Karen community.
Bah Tway found Church of the Saviour one day when he was walking and exploring the city. Since that time he has been a faithful member of the Church, attending weekly services, reading the Gospel in Karen, and serving on the Vestry.
At last he has found the freedom he sought so many years ago and can now live in peace as a valuable member of this welcoming community of believers.