The tea shop named “Freedom,” along the border with Thailand, is a haven for exiles from the generals who seized power in Myanmar early last year. More than 176,000 Myanmar nationals have crossed into Thailand since the military takeover, and many rely on informal networks of support. “We’re trying to stand together,” said Thet Swe Win, 36, who leads the crew behind the tea shop. “It’s the only thing we can do.” Arriving in Thailand six months after the coup, he quickly became involved in supporting new arrivals. With $6,700 in savings, he rented the two-story building to run a restaurant and offer a free venue for people to hold activities for the diaspora. Half of the profits sustain the people who work there; half is sent back into Myanmar to help displaced people. Such self-help is vital because Thailand hasn't officially recognized the influx and so it is difficult for international agencies to provide aid.

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