About a year ago, Thiha Ba Kyi was talking with friends Myo Myint and Thin Ko Ko, a Burmese videographer who has worked for the BBC and Voice of America. With an influx of Burmese refugees coming to Fort Wayne, many of whom can't read or write, the Burmese community needed a way to help new arrivals adjust to living in Fort Wayne. Video seemed like the easiest solution, and so the idea of a television program was born.
“We have a lot of challenges and obstacles here,” said Thiha Ba Kyi.
The problems the Burmese face in Fort Wayne are similar to those refugees face across the country as they attempt to understand American culture.
“Especially the culture shock,” said Thiha Ba Kyi adding, “New arrivals have lived in the refugee camps for many years with no education; it's a very tough life.”
“It is very challenging for them to even fill out an application, because they cannot write Burmese,” said Thiha Ba Kyi. The show should help smooth the way for the newcomers.
“The main purpose is to open communication and share knowledge with our people,” said Thiha Ba Kyi.
Starting in April, the three, plus Thiha Ba Kyi's fiancée and Thin Ko Ko's wife, began taping segments for the show. They have taped enough for five shows, although they will need to update the news segments. Thin Ko Ko edits and produces the shows, which are then burned onto DVDs.
The first episode of the show is tentatively scheduled to air July 14. Because many Burmese do not have cable access, the DVDs will be distributed to local temples and other Burmese social services so they can reach their target audience.
It takes about $400 to buy and produce the DVDs, which will contain two 30-minute programs. Sponsors are welcomed; the group cannot advertise on public- access television.
English subtitles will be added to the show in the future, according to the group.