I am spending my 7 weeks in the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. Mae Sot is on the border with Burma which has one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Subsequently the Thai-Burmesse border is swamped with refugees. The closest refugee camp to Mae Sot is said to have around 200,000 inhabitants. And these are the lucky ones. Here they can get education, health care and there is always a chance they may get re-settled in a new country. Back in Burma there is no healthcare and very little in the way of useful education. On top of that, a number of the ethnic groups are actively resisting the governement creating a civil war which has been ongoing (under the western worlds radar) for around 60 years.
The Mae Tao clinic sees two types of patients and the split is about 50/50.
- Migrant workers living in and around Mae Sot who have no other access to health care (the Thai system does not cover them)
- Those living in Burma who cross (usually illegally) into Thailand as there is absolutely no health care in Burma. They often travel for days after hearing about the Mae Tao clinic through word of mouth. Because of the efforts and the risks involved, these people often have very advanced diseases.
Burma's ray of hope, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the "National League for Democracy" has spent the best part of the last 20 years under house arrest which may soon turn into a prison sentance.
Enough about this for now. If you want to find out more Im sure you can follow some of those links. If not, then you've probably already stopped reading...