Think Burma is a democracy now? Think again.

 

When I found out that I had the opportunity to travel to Burma in December 2011 along with several fellow student photojournalists under the mentorship of Gary Knight, I struggled to connect the name "Burma" to images in my head. At the time, Burma was just beginning to fill the headlines with the possibility of elections for democracy. When my flight was booked, I purchased a Lonely Planet Myanmar guidebook characterized by images taken by travel writers who'd been able to gain a visa to travel there.

It wasn't so much the meditating monks and sunset pagodas over Bagan that inspired me, but the faces of the Burmese, golden painted circles on their cheeks, often smiling. I wanted to find out who these people really were, living under a corrupt and dysfunctional dictatorship while the world seemingly carried on just over the border, smiling for visitors' photographs. Descriptions that life in Burma was almost frozen in time were rampant - it was a cliché deeply reminded me of similar descriptions to my mother's birthplace: Cuba. 

Life in a Changing Burma is a collection of photographs profiling the typical working-class family in the outskirts of Yangon, Burma in contrast with images of life and living from around the city.

This project was completed over a two-week trip in May and June of 2012. I spent the majority of my time there with one family, who lived in the farthest outskirts of the capital and lived off the railway tracks. Despite the continuous political shifts in government and the movement towards more democratic policies, life goes on in Burma. The photographs are an attempt to share the the hope, anxiety, and life in a changing Burma.