Pah Dah was born in Karen state, Burma and fled to Thailand with his parents and siblings when he was 17. They walked for one week to get to Nu Po refugee camp. Pah Dah lived in the camp for 14 years where he met and married his wife, Sue Wah, and they had three daughters. While in the camp, he farmed the small amount of land available. In 2009 they arrived in Oakland, California as refugees. Pah Dah knew no English yet and worked as a stocker and equipment cleaner before becoming an assistant at a Burmese restaurant. After two years he moved into the role of a cook. In 2017 he and his family moved to Lincoln and he partnered with Moe Min Win to open High Peak Asian Restaurant in April 2018.
Moe Min Win was born in Karen state, Burma and left Burma to live with his uncle in Nu Po refugee camp when he was just 13. He finished high school there in 2009 and worked as a teacher for one year and a midwife with the American Refugee Committee for two years. He met and married his wife, Paw Eh Say, in Thailand and had a son there. They resettled as refugees in Oakland, California in 2014 and his first daughter was born. His first job in the U.S. was packing car parts at a factory then he began working at a restaurant where he learned to cook. In 2017 Moe Min Win and his family moved to Omaha and he partnered with Pah Dah to open High Peak Asian Restaurant.
Pah Dah and Family
Moe Min and Family
Who Are The Karen?
The Karen, pronounced Kur-Ren (emphasis on the second syllable), are indigenous to the Thailand-Burma border region in Southeast Asia and are one of the many ethnic groups in Burma (also known as Myanmar). After Burma achieved independence from British rule in 1948, the Karen felt abandoned and betrayed by their former allies, the British. They soon revolted against Burmese rule in a push for self-determination that continues today. Over the last 40 years, the Karen have been persecuted by the Burmese government and suffered some of the worst human rights abuses in the world, including burning of villages and rice fields, forced labor, imprisonment, and other atrocities.
Over 100,000 Karen and other ethnic minorities still live in ten refugee camps in neighboring Thailand where they are forced to rely on aid and rations. Refugees are not allowed to leave the camps and risk exploitation and abuse by Thai authorities if they do. Opportunities to work in the camp are very limited.
In 2007 the United States began resettling refugees from Burma on a wider scale and have now welcomed more than 120,000 individuals, including the owners of High Peak. Nebraska is currently home to about 10,000 former refugees from Burma.
For more information about Karen culture or refugees in Omaha: