Saturday, 21 July 2012
Meeting Dr Cynthia
We cycled from Thein Naing's house up through the back streets to the Mao Tao Clinic to meet Dr Cynthia, who is also known as ' Our Mother'. Dr Cynthia pretty much looks after the entire Burmese community here.
She fled Burma in-1988 and set up a small clinic to give medical aid to people who had also crossed the border to escape the Tatmadaw (Burmese army). Over the years the clinic has grown and grown, along with demand. The clinic sees between 300 and 400 patients a day, from Thailand and Burma, or 150,000 displaced people every year. Last year they helped deliver 3,000 babies, and they deal with cases of malnutrition and lost limbs through land mine injuries, alongside providing dentistry, an eye clinic, carrying out operations and providing mental health care for many people damaged through the horrific civil war. [in the Thai border province of Tak, there are around 800,000 people - 300,000 of them are Burmese and 120,000 of that 300,000 are aged 15-19]
On top of this Dr Cynthia has set up CDC school, provides medical care, food and humanitarian care for people throughout the border region. She is a totally amazing woman and has received many, many international awards in recognition of her work. Dr Cynthia and the clinic continue to grow and meet the needs of this community in crisis. If anyone would like to find out more about this incredible place visit http://maetaoclinic.org/
As we cycled up to the clinic, we met Sheila, Geoff and a poorly Maya just gettin out of the DK tuk tuk. We all went to meet Dr Cynthia in the library, where she told us about the funding crisis. She explained that the school and clinic (along with most Burmese organistions) are dependent on foreign aid, but this is drying up as most donors are starting to pump money into Burma and leaving the border. This could be the start of a massive crisis. We were told earlier that it wasn't going to be safe for the Burmese to go back to Burma for another few years, so what are these people going to do for all that time. How are the kids going to be fed or the clinic going to continue to provide free health care? It is all very depressing.
We were pleased to give the cash we had brought from Campie, Judith's Hits From the Musicals, Maya's cash and the money Sheila had collected from everyone. I think we all wished we could do more.
It was wonderful to meet Dr Cynthia, but Maya hit the wall and it was time to go. Dr Cynthia said her, Sheila and Geoff could be taken back in the clinic van. We were due to have a tour round the clinic, but decided to leave it to another day.