Friday, 19 June 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi's Birthday

Yesterday was Aung San Suu Kyi's Birthday. Across the world protests were held calling for her to be set free. It even made the front page of BBC News! Last night at the clinic, a party was held in her name. Volunteers, patients, medics and whoever else fancied turning up came to watch an American band (They were a little cringey...) and a local musician play in the clinics training room. Candles were lit, kids danced around in circles and free food was handed out.

Scattered across the the clinics grounds were a number of Thai army guards with shotguns and rifles. I found this pretty unsettleing with so many kids about but they seemed pretty relaxed as the atmosphere was happy and celebratory rather than argry and violent.

This week at the clinic I saw a lot of coughs and colds - the kind of thing a GP gets bored of, but trying to exclude serious illness in these patients is considerably more difficult with the language barrier. The medics don't like to ask too many questions and its much better to work in their style as much as possible. Some evenings I've headed back over to the Trauma department to see my friends there. Its pretty shocking to watch the medics there removing tumours on a non sterile table which they themselves are squatted on while operating, their bare feet inches away from the open surgery...but these guys have been working like this for years and challenging them only makes them less keen to work with foreigners. After starting there last week, it was days before the head medic in that department would even make eye contact with me. You get the impression that they've had a lot of foreign doctors come in and try to force change on them in a rather insensitive way.

I was asked if I'd start teaching an English to a class of the medics. Rather foolishly I accepted and so from next week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings I will doing exactly that. As far as I can tell there will be no syllabus and no text book...yikes!

Playing the Burmese version of Pool with my friend Juriaan

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