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Capturing the spirit of Myanmar’s Dala people in pictures

San Lin Tun The Myanmar Times January 1, 2020

There are not many books on Dala Township, Yangon and its inhabitants. To fill this gap and to highlight the beauty of the city, Scottish photographer Don Wright has published a photography book called ‘‘Dala Days’’. The book focuses more on the people of Dala, especially, the children and families he met on his regular visits to Dala.

Originally from Scotland, and having lived in Southeast Asia for over 10 years and in Yangon since 2012, Wright has always been interested in photography and used to take a lot of photos when he and his wife travelled every year. When they started living in Asia he had more time to pursue what was initially a hobby and started to take it more seriously.

As soon as he set foot in Dala, the township attracted him with its vibrant scenes and authenticity. Dala doesn’t yet possess highrise buildings like Yangon but its future prospects are visible after the completion of a bridge over the Yangon River to connect Yangon and Dala.

His visits to Dala were not just only about sightseeing but also doing good. Every time Wright went there, he took photos of the locals in their villages and markets. He then printed the pictures and gave them to the people th next time he went. By doing this he built a great relationship with them.

Every time he went, the kids would come running to collect their photos and pose for new ones and the parents would thank him for the photos of their kids growing up and photos of their newborns. He felt quite happy to be part of in their daily lives by documenting and photographing children and families.

Building on this, he had an idea to help the community with his photographic skills. He held a meeting with the local people to find out their most pressing needs and he learned that the best way to help them was to buy large water containers for them to store their drinking water.

To help the cause, a few years ago Wright held an exhibition of some photos that he had taken in Dala to help the villagers. With the money made from the sale of his photos he managed to get a water container and mosquito nets for every house in the village.

During his numerous visits, he also noticed there were always children around, no matter what time of day and wondered why they didn’t go to school. He soon found out that one of the reasons some children didn’t go to school was that their parents couldn’t afford a school uniform, which is compulsory. So, then he decided to use the sale of photos to buy uniforms for any families that needed them.

And so years later he decided to publish a book to help the community that he now knew very well. He wanted to provided a little bit of information about some of the people he photographed for the book.

‘‘I will continue going to Dala and photographing the people there and if possible raise some awareness about their lives help a little bit if I can. I run photography tours to the villages and markets in Dala for anyone interested in getting some photos of Dala or for anyone who just wants to visit this beautiful part of the Yangon area,” Wright says.

‘‘I hope people enjoy the book and that the photographs manage to show the people of Dala as they are. I hope that people are willing to buy the book to make a small contribution to making the lives of some of these people a little bit better.’’

The book contains about 100 mostly portrait photos, showing the people of Dala and their daily lives, and a foreword with a bit of Dala’s interesting history.

The book is available at ‘‘Chu Chu’’, a shop working with various communities using recycled materials to make usable objects in Dala, Rangoon Tea House, Hla Day, and Bagan Book House for K25,000.

Wright can be reached at or

San Lin Tun is a freelance writer of essays, poetry, short stories and novels in Myanmar and English.

From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (MYANMAR)  January 1, 2020

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