Our Home in Myanmar by Jessica Mudditt
Australian journalist Jessica Mudditt and her Bangladeshi husband Sherpa lived in Yangon, Myanmar for four years from 2012, just as the military was beginning to relax its grip on power. Once known as Burma, Myanmar has been isolated for half a century, a country shrouded in mystery, often misunderstood by the Western world.
When she arrived, Jessica joined The Myanmar Times, run by a small team of expats, with their Burmese editor stuck in prison. Later, Jessica was the first expatriate journalist to work for the country’s state-run newspaper, The Global New Light of Myanmar. She also worked at the British Embassy and the United Nations while in Yangon. Her experiences are fascinating and capture a time in Myanmar of great hope and progress for the country, despite the many challenges and contradictions of living in this isolated country.
From covering visits by US President Obama to getting close to a zookeeper and his cobras, or covering a speech by Aung San Suu Kyi, Jessica’s life in Yangon is a rollercoaster ride of different experiences. She visits thousand-year-old temples, sees Kayan women in Bagan with their metallic neck rings, and meets people who trade in human hair. Jessica encounters corruption and innocent people languishing in prison, but she also encounters kindness and gentle people looking after one another.
But as the historic elections of 2015 draw near, the road to democracy is filled with many obstacles. Jessica and Sherpa are blindsided by the rise in militant Buddhism, making it impossible for them to continue to stay in the country that has won their hearts.
Our Home in Myanmar is a page-turning, edge-of-your-seat read as you follow Jessica’s many adventures in Myanmar. It’s an insightful glimpse into a period of time filled with so much hope and potential for a better future, before the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, a month after Jessica and Sherpa left the country, and the recent military coup. It’s a fascinating insight into this mysterious country, as well as being a well-written and personal memoir of a young journalist and her extraordinary experiences – both the good and the bad. I would highly recommend Our Home in Myanmar and a dollar from every book sold will be donated to fundraisers platformed on https://www.isupportmyanmar.com/
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Hembury Press, RRP $34.95