Miss Universe Finland finalist sheds light on Burmese refugee children

Sa Myer Oo
Sa Myer Oo as an adult and as a refugee child. Photo: The Irrawaddy

Miss Universe Finland finalist, Sa Myer Oo, turned the spot light from herself to a greater issue that is close to her heart – helping refugee children in Myanmar. Children just like herself.

Sa Myer Oo was born and raised in a refugee camp for Karenni people on the Thai side of the Myanmar-Thai border. She spent the 11 first years of her life there, before she came to Finland, where she just became a top 10 finalist at the Miss Universe Finland 2023 pageant, she explained in an interview done by The Irrawaddy.

Participating in a beauty contest has had her interest from her young age. But she had another motive for engaging in the competition. She wanted to share her story, and stress her aim to help other children displaced because of civil war.

A home without safety

In the interview she explained how she was born during her parents escape from the  Kayah State  across the border to Thailand, weighing only two kilograms and having no access to a doctor. There she spent the first decade of her life inside what she said felt like a prison. The refugee camp. Going out of the refugee area was a risk not worth taking. But inside the camp, human rights were non-existent and they depended on food from others.

“We had no dreams,” she told Irrawaddy.

Today the situation in Myanmar is even worse. And living in Finland, where human rights and childcare is a natural given, has put pressure on her willingness to work for the children of Myanmar. Coming to the Scandinavian country, she felt her rights and human value return – a value that every child should experience.

The goals keep growing

Today her big ambition is to work for the UN, so she can engage with embassies in Myanmar in order to help the children in need.

Until she reaches that dream, she urges the displaced people in the South East Asian country to stay strong, and know that ‘us expats are speaking out for you.’

“We are together. They are in our minds. We don’t forget them,” she stressed to the Burmese Magazine.

The full interview with Sa Myer Oo can be read here.

About Sofie Rønnelund

Sofie Roennelund is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Sofie Rønnelund

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