Imagine being so close to Nature that you dont want or need anything else. Some of the Moken are still living in their traditional way on and with the ocean.
The word Moken means “people of the water” and refers to an ethnic group of semi-nomadic Austronesian people, who live in the Mergui Archipelago, a group of approximately 800 islands in the Andaman (claimed by Myanmar and Thailand).
Migrated to Thailand, Burma and Malaysia from Southern China approximately 4,000 years ago, the Moken have traditionally lived on hand-built wooden boats called kabang for most of the year. They have historically shunned material possessions and rejected outside technology.
In rainy season, when the south-western monsoon hits the shore, they have traditionally built temporary wooden shelter houses on the eastern side of the island to protect themselves from the strong winds and rainfalls.
The Moken call the ocean their universe! They have not only their own cultural tradition and beliefs, also their own language and within time they established extraordinary abilities to dive and see clearly under water.
Yet today they are endangered and only very few of them live as semi-nomadic families.
Most have been forced to live on the mainland and be integrated in Thai society, from which they are not respected and acknowledged because of their undocumented identity and different cultural habits. That leads many of them into depression and hopelessness, since they don’t find any work and especially they can’t handle this new way of living.
Some of them are selling handicrafts as souvenirs, working as boatmen, gardeners and garbage collectors for the tourist industry.
The semi-nomadic numbers have diminished due to political and post-tsunami regulations, companies drilling for oil off-shore, governments seizing their lands for tourism development and industrial fishing.
The Thai Buddhist Monk Phrakhru Suwattithammarat dedicated his work since the Tsunami 2004 to support the Moken and maintain their cultural tradition and ethnic language. Until today the Moken children are invited in the kindergarden on the temple area in Kuraburi, Southern Thailand, for free, provided with nutritious meals and valuable education.
Julia had been living on this temple area for several times, doing fieldwork about the meaning about the Buddha sculpture, participating in the everyday life and supporting the Moken projects. In the most precious moments she found herself on the Moken Boat somewhere out on the ocean, suddenly feeling the deep connection to Mother Nature this people have and motivated to support and maintain their way of living anyhow possible.
- The Moken project starts in November 2022 and focus on:
- Support Education for children from 2 years to 14 years
- Nutrition for Babies
- Maintaining cultural tradition habiti and the Moken language