The Karen students at St Mary’s gathered to record the powerful song A Desire for Freedom, a contemporary song by the Karen artist Chally. The song is sung in the S’gaw Karen dialect and the translation below was done by the students.

This is a reflection on the song’s purpose, meaning and significance. Written in their own words, the summary it is a compelling reflection on what is important to them.

Ms Dianne Hill


“We chose this song to remind us about the war that is happening in our country and how long it has been going for. The song tells us of why we fled our home country. Our parents brought us here to live a better life but, in our hearts, we yearn for our birthplace. Despite our longing, we have no opportunity and freedom in our country. The Burmese regime has been discriminating against the Karen people by not allowing us to learn our own language, speak our own language and display our flag. We the Karen have to hide our own identity fearing their retaliation. This is why we moved to make villages in the mountains, go to refugee camps or go to another country. Our freedom is compromised there. This song encourages us to feel, think and act so that we can have that freedom back. Thank you.”

Desire for Freedom

Living in another country. Growing up in poverty.

The meaning of freedom, we do not know.

Mum and dad brought us here in their country.

Living here has been long but temporary


Sometimes we’ve been looked down.

Sometimes we’ve been bullied.

Because we don’t have freedom like others


We have our own country but fear living there

Our people are not connected

This is a major problem for our future generation


We starve for freedom, we hope to go back to our country

We hope for freedom and get our country back

For all our Karen people we must unite as one to fight against the Burmese


  • Reflection and translation: Karen students at Catherine McAuley College
  • Recording: Mrs Catherine Moore
  • Photos: Karen Students