“I want to resume my schooling,” shares Bwe Paw. “My dream is to become a medic or a schoolteacher.” Bwe Paw is an 18-year-old girl from Burma. When she isn’t dreaming about her future career, Bwe Paw enjoys watching movies with her friends and playing volleyball. Lately, though, health concerns have made it hard for Bwe Paw to relax. In 2013, she started feeling pain in her stomach. Although Bwe Paw took medications from a local pharmacy, the pain only worsened, and she was soon experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue as well. After making several long journeys to multiple clinics, Bwe Paw was eventually diagnosed with a benign tumor in her abdomen. Bwe Paw’s doctors say that she needs to have her tumor surgically removed in order to relieve these symptoms. Meanwhile, her condition’s impact on her life continues to worsen: she is losing weight due to eating and sleeping disturbances, and has had to drop out of school despite her high academic aspirations. Bwe Paw’s family cannot afford to pay for her surgery. The money they make as farmers is barely enough to sustain the daily needs of Bwe Paw and her three siblings. But with our help, she can receive the tumor removal surgery she needs. $1,500 will pay for her operation, as well as her lab tests and recovery time at Mae Sot General Hospital. Without the setbacks of pain and fatigue, Bwe Paw will be back on track to pursue her high hopes of working in medicine or education.
17-year-old Than Kyi lives in Mae Sot, Thailand. His parents moved from Karen State, Burma, five years ago to look for better job opportunities. Than Kyi was studying but he wanted to move to be with his parents, so he quit school and moved to Mae Sot. When Than Kyi was about 5 years old, he noticed a small growth on his upper right calf but did not worry about it because it was not painful. As he got older, the mass grew bigger. When he was about 10 years old, the mass was about the size of an egg and it started to get painful. His parents took him to a clinic in Mae Sot. After having an x-ray done, the doctor explained to the family that Than Kyi had an abnormal growth in his tibia which would need to be surgically removed. However, the doctor reconsidered and told them that since Than Kyi was still young it was better to wait before having the surgery. The doctor gave him an injection and some oral medications which made Than Kyi feel a lot better. Than Kyi did not have pain again until he was 14 years old. At this time the pain was so severe that it sometimes prevented him from sleeping. His parents again took him to the clinic in Mae Sot where he received the same injection and medicines as before. The pain abated but resumed a year later. He again visited the clinic and this time the doctor told his family that it was time for him to have surgery. Than Kyi’s parents could not afford to take him there. They decided to take Than Kyi to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), a Watsi partner. Since then Than Kyi has been visiting MTC whenever he experiences pain. An x-ray that showed he has osteochondroma, a benign tumor that is an outgrowth on the surface of bones. He needs surgery to remove the tumor and relieve his current symptoms. Than Kyi's father shared that he has lost some customers because he frequently has to bring his son to the clinic. However, he said that his son’s health is more important than his customers. “I want to get well soon so that I can help my father," Than Kyi shared. His father added: “I’m very worried about my son, especially for his future. He will someday have to be on his own to support himself and he might not be able to if his condition would not be fixed."
Saung is a 23-year-old woman, originally from Burma, who moved with her husband to Thailand in search of better job opportunities. Initially, Saung was a domestic worker in Tak Province, while her husband worked as a day laborer. After a while, Saung moved to Bangkok, where she could find higher paying jobs. Saung's husband followed her to Bangkok, but fell ill and was hospitalized, shortly after his arrival. When his health didn't improve, a friend suggested that Saung's husband should go to a clinic in Mae Sot for care. Saung went with her husband to look after him, and neither of them has worked for some time, as Saung's husband continues to receive treatment. In October 2022, Saung began to experience pain in her lower abdomen and pelvic area. While pain killers have helped, tests revealed that Saung has a tumor outside of her uterus. Because of the recurring pain - which keeps her from eating or sleeping appropriately - Saung sought help from our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, to secure the care that she needs. Now, she is scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on November 30th, at Mae Sot General Hospital. She is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care, which will relieve her of pain and do away with the stress of her condition, while enabling her to return to work. Saung said: “If there are no donors for me, I will not be able to receive treatment. The doctor also told me that if I don’t receive treatment, the pain will still come back, and I will not be able to work happily. I felt hopeless at first, and I don’t know where to look for more money to borrow to pay for my surgery. Now, when I heard that there will be a donor for me, I feel less worried."
Hla is a 43-year-old woman from Thailand. She lives with her husband, daughter and son in a village in Thailand. They fled from across the border in Burma seven months ago because of fighting in their area. She used to be an agriculture day labourer but stopped working a month ago since her condition is worsened. Her husband is also an agriculture day labourer and her son is a student. Two years ago, Hla felt a small mass in her breast. The mass was not painful so she need not seek treatment. A few months ago, the mass started to increase in size and became painful. Currently, Hla still feels pain and feels stressed about her condition and also worries if her condition can be treatable or not. Fortunately, Hla sought treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. She is now scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on September 11th. She needs $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Hla said, "I am very happy that I will be able to receive surgery soon. I hope that I will be able to work again after my surgery."
Mi is a 58-year-old mother from Thailand. She lives with her husband and her three daughters. She supports her family by working as a homemaker. Her husband does not work because he is ill. Her eldest daughter is an accountant, her second eldest daughter is a homemaker, and her youngest daughter does not work because she is attending school. Some of Mi's favorite activities include cleaning her house and growing vegetables in her garden. In February, Mi started experiencing pain in her left breast. After examining the area, she noticed a small mass. Over time, the mass increased in size and the pain worsened. She currently still experiences pain in her left breast. Although she takes medication, it only alleviates her pain temporarily. Because of this, she cannot cook or clean, and her daughter has had to take over the household chores. Fortunately, Mi sought treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. She is now scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on July 12th. She is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Mi shares, “I want to get better soon. Then my second eldest daughter can find work so that we can pay back our debt. I want to live happily with my family for the rest of my life.”
Phyo Ko is a 33-year-old man, living in Thailand with his wife and two young children. Originally from Burma, Phyo Ko and his family moved to Thailand in 2009, in search of better job opportunities. Phy Ko's wife stays home with the children, who are too young to go to school, while Phyo Ko works as a construction day laborer, earning under $12 a day. In early 2021, Phyo Ko and his friend were at work at a construction site, when scaffolding fell onto Phyo Ko's left hand and thigh. Initially, he used oil made from traditional medicine to ease the pain. However, a month after the accident, Phyo Ko noticed that there was a mass on his left leg, so he sought medical attention. The first doctor he visited could find nothing wrong, and sent Phyo Ko back home. His mass continued to grow in size, and the pain increased, making it impossible for Phyo Ko to continue working, so once again, he went to the hospital. This time, there were no doctors available to see him because of the pandemic. Finally, in April, Phyo Ko was able to receive a CT scan, thanks to our medical partner Burma Children Medical Fund and the Watis community. The CT scan revealed a hematoma, which requires surgical intervention. On June 16th, Phyo Ko will undergo surgery at Mae Sot General Hospital, to have the mass removed from his thigh. After the procedure, Phyo Ko should be able to walk, stand and work without pain, something he is unable to do now. Burma Children Medical Fund is seeking $1,500 to cover the costs of Phyo Ko's surgery. Phyo Ko said: "I would like to receive surgery soon so that the pain will go away. Before I received the CT scan, I was told that my leg could be be amputated because the mass on my leg is very big. However, after the CT scan, the doctor told me that they could remove the mass without amputation. I was so happy to hear this. I want to work and earn an income for my family after surgery."
Thu Zar is a 21-year-old woman who lives with her parents, three sisters, and three nieces in Mae Sot near the Thailand-Burma border. Her family moved from Shan State in Burma to Thailand in 2008 in search of better opportunities. She used to work at a logistics company until two weeks ago when she quit due to her condition. Her parents run a small shop from their home, and her oldest sister is a cleaner at a restaurant. One of her other sister’s is unemployed and her third sister as well as her three nieces all go to school. In 2015, Thu Zar felt a small mobile mass in her chest. She did not feel any pain at the time and forgot about the mass. In 2019, she attended a workshop about reproductive health at her school, run by Mae Tao Clinic (MTC). During the workshop she remembered the mass and later when she was alone, she checked to see if it was still there. She felt the mass and thought that it had increased in size, but she did not experience any pain. The next day, she told the workshop trainer about the mass. The trainer told her to go to MTC for treatment. However, Thu Zar decided she did not want to take time off from school to go to the clinic, since she thought the mass was not causing her any pain or discomfort. Now, Thu Zar's condition has worsened and causes her great pain. She can only sleep on her back, because if she sleeps in any other position she experiences immense pain. Thu Zar sought treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. She is now scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on June 9th to heal her condition. She is raising $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Thu Zar is very worried about her health and told us, "I feel very sad and depressed with this condition."
Thaung is a 31-year-old man who is married with one daughter. His wife and him work together as agricultural day laborers. Thaung's monthly income is just enough to meet their daily needs. He shared that he had to borrow money for food from his neighbor when he was out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup in Burma, and he is working to pay them back. In October 2021, Thaung noticed a small ulcer and went to see a retired army doctor who lives in his village. He received some medication, and his ulcer healed. However, a few months later, the growth returned. Thuang and his family were able to fundraise through their church to visit a local hospital. Upon review, he was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor informed him that he would need to undergo surgery. Currently, Thaung is in pain and has difficulty working and sleeping. Fortunately, our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), can help Thaung receive treatment. On April 11th, he is scheduled to undergo surgery. BCMF is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of his procedure and care. Thaung shared, “When I recover from surgery, I will work hard to pay back my debt to the neighbors we borrowed money from. I want to live with my family for a long time, and I want to support my family as much as I can.”
Htoo is a 12-year-old girl who lives with her parents, two older sisters, an older brother and a younger brother in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. Htoo’s father works as a construction worker while Htoo's mother is a homemaker and looks after Htoo's younger brother who is too young to go to school. Htoo and her older siblings study in the camp. Every month, the family receives oil, rice and charcoal rations, but they shared that the rations are unfortunately not enough to cover their daily needs. They also receive free basic health care and education in the refugee camp. In her free time, Htoo likes to play with her friends and help her mother clean. Htoo was born with a small mass in a sensitive area. At the time, Htoo's mother was told not to worry about the mass. However, beginning in 2016, Htoo noticed the mass increasing in size and she could no longer pass urine comfortably. A medic at the camp's hospital examined the mass and determined that it is benign and recommends it is surgically treated for Htoo's comfort and peace of mind. Htoo is receiving treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) and she is scheduled to undergo mass removal surgery on June 6th. Now, their family is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Htoo shared, “in the future, I want to finish my schooling and become a teacher in the camp. I want to teach Karen [language].”
Htoo is a 29-year-old woman from Burma, and the headmistress for a middle school. She lives with her seven friends in a dormitory, and they are all teachers at the same middle school in the village. She raises chickens and also grows vegetables in a small garden beside the dormitory. She and her friends often go to the forest on weekends. Due to impacts of COVID-19 on her school, her income has been irregular since June 2020, but she and her friends share meals to make sure they have enough. In late March 2021, after a friend had mentioned how to do a self-exam for breast cancer, Htoo found a mass in her right breast later that night. Currently, Htoo does not experience any pain but she is very worried that the mass will turn cancerous. Htoo felt very scared to undergo surgery, as she feels stressed about her condition and she also thinks about the work she has to do at school which stresses her out even more. However, the doctors have recommended surgery to remove the tumor before it causes more risk or has a chance to spread. Htoo is seeking treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. She is now scheduled to undergo tumor removal surgery on May 25th and is requesting $1,500 to cover the cost of her procedure and care. Htoo said, “When I think about my condition and my work, I become so stressed, and I cannot sleep well at night. I cry very often when I think about my condition. I feel like the stress has made me lose my appetite.”