Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Beneath the Baobab: stories from Southern Africa

Elephants at South Luangwa national park, Zambia
© Andrew Brown/2017/Zambia
As promised almost a year ago, my new African blog is now live. Called ‘Beneath the Baobab’, it starts with a travel story about South Luangwa national park in Zambia. This is possibly the best safari park in Southern Africa and one of the few where you can do both walking and night safaris. In Malawi and Zambia, villages are often built around a baobab tree, with the space under the tree providing a communal space for village meetings and storytelling: www.andymjbrown.wordpress.com

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Fantastic voyage: top 10 adventures in Asia-Pacific

Otgontsetseg with her family outside their home in Arbulag soum, Mongolia
© Andy Brown/2013/Mongolia
After six years of living and working in the Asia-Pacific region, it’s time to wind up this blog and start a new one about Southern Africa, tentatively called 'Beneath the Baobab'. But before I go, here are my top ten adventures from across the region, starting with Mongolia:

Friday, 21 October 2016

Broken sanctuary: attacks on schools are assaults of children’s rights

Zau Seng, 11, and teacher Mya, both of whom were injured in an attack on their school
© UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Khine Zar Mon
Zau Seng, 11, is a student at Nam Ya Middle School, in Moe Nyin District, Kachin State, Myanmar. Kachin has been affected by conflict since 2011, following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire. The recent violence has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of around 100,000 civilians, half of them children. Despite ongoing peace talks, a final deal has proved elusive and the fighting continues.

Nam Ya School is in a government controlled area, but close to territory where two rival armed groups are fighting. It was during fighting between these two armed groups, local residents say, that the school came under fire.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Field of dreams: children in a Kachin camp hope for peace

Baum with her family at a camp for displaced people near Myitkyina
UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Khine Zar Mon
Baum Myaw, 12, lives with her family at a camp for displaced people near Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, Myanmar. Kachin has been affected by conflict since 2011, following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire. The recent violence has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of around 100,000 civilians, including children. Despite ongoing peace talks, a final deal has proved elusive and the fighting continues.

Soon after the conflict reignited in 2011, Myaw’s family was forced to flee their home in Sadaung Township, near the border with China, due to fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar national army).

Friday, 29 July 2016

Children, not tourist attractions: keeping families together in Myanmar

Children walk through a rice field in Dala, one of the locations for orphanage tourism
© UNICEF Myanmar/2016/Andy Brown
Every twenty minutes, a busy ferry crosses the river from downtown Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, to the rural village of Dala on the opposite bank. On a recent morning, the ferry was packed with local commuters wearing Burmese ‘longyi’ skirts, vendors selling speckled eggs and cigarettes, and a handful of adventurous tourists.

As soon as I disembarked at Dala pier, I was approached by a thick-set young man with a pony tail and baseball cap. He introduced himself as Meh Meh, 28, and offered me a tour of the area by rickshaw. “What’s your name, where you from, you want trishaw tour?” he asked. “I take you to pagoda, fishing village, Cyclone village,orphanage. 15,000 Kyats.”