Project Karen Storybook

Preserving Indigenous Mythology


The Mission

Mythology, like language, is at the heart of every culture. Myths give us our origin stories, our life lessons, our jokes, and most importantly, help form our collective sense of identity. Karen mythology weaves fantastic stories of wise elephants, brave young explorers, feuding gods and rice paddies that hold unusual secrets. However, these stories are at great risk of being lost forever. Passed only by word of mouth, the eldest generation of Karen is tasked at preserving this legacy, but as younger generations continually turn to electronic media for entertainment, these magical stories are at risk of dying along with the elders that hold them. Daughters Rising hopes to prevent this from happening. Project Karen Storybook aims to collaborate across Karen generations to record and preserve these incredible stories in the form of children’s storybooks.


The Process

The books will be made by employing 6 Karen students to create all stages of production. The students will transcribe the stories from their elders then create an accompanying visual narrative through photography. The photographs will be staged, acted and photographed by the students in collaboration with children in the village. Written in both Karen and English, the books will then be printed professionally and distributed to the local community free of cost. Additional copies will be available for purchase in the The Chai Lai Shop, as well as online, with all proceeds going back to the Karen community.


The Goal

Cultural Preservation + Skill Building + Income Generation

This project supports and gives back to the Karen community in a myriad of ways. Importantly, it preserves traditional Karen myths for future generations and shares these amazing stories with a global audience. At every stage of production, Karen youth are learning valuable skill sets of leadership, project management and book production (including writing, editing, storyboarding, photography, compositional layout, digital design and how to work with professional printers). Furthermore, the books will be available to the community to not only share with each other, but also to serve as educational tools for learning English. Lastly, the sales of the book will bring critical income into the community to be used as they see fit.