Medical assistance is inaccessible to many people living in Burma because of the high cost of treatment and lack of free healthcare. There are also an estimated 2 million Burmese people living in Thailand unable to access the Thai healthcare system.
BCMF is one of the few organizations that has a strong enough relationship with the relevant Thai authorities to facilitate the transportation to and treatment of Burmese people at Thai hospitals.
Naw Ree is a 49-year-old woman from Thailand. Naw Ree has lived by herself in a refugee camp in northern Thailand since 2009. As a camp resident, Naw Ree receives 243 baht (approx. $8 USD) each month from an organization that supports refugee camp residents. She also works as a maternal and child health worker, receiving 900 baht (approx. $30 USD) per month. Naw Ree raises chickens and grows vegetables. Despite receiving free health care services in the camp, Naw Ree is struggling to make ends meet. On December 16th, 2020, Naw Ree went to see a woman who had recently given birth, to remind her about vaccinating her baby on time. After sitting and talking to the woman in her home, Naw Ree stood up to leave but felt light headed and fell. She put out her left hand to stop her fall, and hurt her left arm. She went to the hospital in the camp, run by Malteser International [MI] Thailand, and received pain medication and her arm was put into a sling. The next day, she was referred to Mae Seriang General Hospital for further treatment. At the hospital she received x-rays and the doctor told her that she had fractured one of the bones in her left forearm. She was then referred to Chiang Mai Hospital for further treatment, but her transfer was delayed for over two weeks due to an outbreak in COVID-19 cases in northern Thailand. Since Naw Ree lives by herself, she has to cook, wash her clothes, and feed her chickens without anyone's help, a difficult feat with her broken arm. Currently, she is in pain but has no fever. She can only fall asleep if she takes pain medication. With the help of our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, Naw Ree will undergo surgery to reset her fractured bones and ensure proper healing. The procedure is scheduled for January 6th and will cost $1,500. After surgery, Naw Ree will no longer be in pain. She will be able to go back to work as a health worker and she will be able to complete her household chores without pain or discomfort. Naw Ree shared, "My greatest wish is that I recover and that I may be able to use my left arm again."
Di is a 40-year-old woman from Thailand. She lives with her parents, her husband, her brother, and her two children in Mae La Refugee Camp in Tak Province. Di and her family work hard to make ends meet. Her family runs a small shop selling kitchen utensils. Di's husband is a religious teacher, and he does not earn regular income. Her brother is unemployed, and her parents are retired. Di helps with the family shop while her daughter goes to the community school that is led by volunteers. Her youngest son is too young to go to school. She shared that their family income is enough for family expenses, but they are not able to save any money. Around two years ago, Di was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia. Currently, she experiences pain under her chest and her abdominal around umbilical is swollen and pain. Di is not able to do any household chores because of her condition. The pain worsens after she has meals or constipation, and her stomach will feel as hard as a stone. Fortunately, on January 19th, Di will undergo hernia repair surgery at Mae Sot General Hospital, our medical partner's care center. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund Di's hernia repair surgery. Once completed, the procedure will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably and be well enough to care for her family. Di shared, “Once I am better, I will try my best to take care of my family and my children's education. I want them to study in Thai school. They need to be educated, so I need to be healthy."
Gyi is an agricultural day labourer from Thailand. He lives with his wife, who also works as a day labourer. However, both Gyi and his wife struggle to find work and often have to borrow money to make ends meet. On January 12, 2021, Gyi started to experience difficulty urinating. His abdomen became distended, and he felt uncomfortable as if he had severe gas. For the next two days, Gyi was able to pass urine without difficulty, but he started developing pain on the right side of his abdomen. Four days later, he was unable to pass neither urine nor stool. Gyi and his wife went to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), where a medic assessed him and thought he might be suffering from partial obstruction of his bowel. Doctors want Gyi to undergo a CT scan, a procedure in which x-ray images taken from several angles are combined to produce cross-sectional images of the body. This scan will hopefully help doctors diagnose his condition and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $414 to cover the cost of Gyi's CT scan and care, scheduled for January 20th. In the future, Gyi shared, "I want to continue working in the fields. Also, I would like to move back to Burma one day."
Myo is a 38-year-old from Thailand. He lives with his mother, sister, and a nephew in Mae Ku Village in the northern Tak Province. He moved from Burma to Mae Sot in 2008 search of better job opportunities. He and his sister work as agriculture day laborers while his mother looks after his nephew at home. In his free time, Myo loves to listen to music. Around two weeks ago, Myo developed a stomachache after he had dinner. He thought that it was because he had skipped lunch and ate too much during dinner. His mother bought him oral medication from the pharmacy and after he took it, he felt better. The next day, his stomachache returned in the evening. He took more of the same medication which helped to decrease the pain. Myo decided to rest two days at home and not go to work, in the hopes that he would feel better. Nevertheless, three days later he felt worse. He developed a sharp pain in his lower abdomen which made it hard for him to sit down or eat. When he tried to eat, the pain increased and his stomach became bloated. When Myo arrived at Mae Tao Clinic, the medic completed an ultrasound of his abdomen as well as a blood and a urine test. The medic told him that he has fluid build-up in his stomach. The medic inserted a tube through his nose and into his stomach to drain the build-up of fluid. He also received an intravenous (IV) line because he cannot eat anything since he arrived at MTC. If he tries to eat, the pain in his stomach increases. A few days after the tube was inserted through his nose, his stomach became less bloated. When the medic did another ultrasound of his abdomen a few days later he was admitted to the hospital, the medic found a small mass or cyst close to his navel. The medic told him he would have to go to Mae Sot Hospital (MSH) for further investigation and on the 18th of January 2021, Myo went to MSH with an MTC staff. At MSH, the nurse looked at his ultrasound result before scheduling him for a computerized tomography (CT) scan to confirm his diagnosis on 21st of January 2021. Doctors want Myo to undergo a CT scan, a procedure in which x-ray images taken from several angles are combined to produce cross-sectional images of the body. This scan will hopefully help doctors diagnose his condition and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $414 to cover the cost of Myo's CT scan and care, scheduled for January 21st. Myo's sister said, “Since my brother got sick, he cannot work, and I also cannot work because I have to accompany him. We do not have an income when we do not work and now, we are in debt.” Myo added, “I want to recover and work so that I can pay back our debt.”
Jue is a 25-year-old woman who lives with her family in a village in Hmawbi Township, Yangon Division, Burma. Her parents are housekeepers, and her youngest brother is a first-year university student who has been seeking work. Jue used to run a beauty salon, but had to stop working four months ago when her health deteriorated. In her free time, Jue likes to watch the news and videos relating to her work at the beauty salon. She also likes to read books and wants to write a book of her own someday. In August 2020, Jue felt pains in her stomach and chest. She would also experience difficulty breathing sometimes, and she would feel tired when she walked for a longer period of time. Jue went to the clinic in her village, where she received oral medication, but she did not feel better after taking it. She returned to the clinic several times over the course of two months, but her condition continued to worsen – the chest pain, difficulty breathing and feeling of fatigue happened more often. Jue decided to go to another clinic in North Okkala Township in Yangon in November 2020. At the clinic, the doctor listened to her heart with a stethoscope, and informed her that she has a congenital heart condition. The doctor recommended she receive a blood test, an echocardiogram (echo) and an electrocardiogram (ecg) at a hospital. After visiting a hospital to receive those tests, the doctor there told her that she was born with a hole in her heart and that she might need to receive surgery at the general hospital. However, the cost of surgery was too high. Luckily, Jue crossed paths with another former patient and was referred to Watsi's Medical Partner Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) to seek assistance with accessing treatment. Fortunately, surgeons at our medical partner can help. On January 24th, U Win will undergo an atrial septal defect closure procedure. Once recovered, her quality of life will significantly improve and she will be able to return to working at her beauty salon. Now, our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund this procedure. Jue shared, “I want to get better as quickly as possible and go back to work. I’m worried about my younger brother. He doesn’t have a job, and he needs to graduate from university. I’m also worried about Covid-19 because nobody has a job right now.”
Than is a 42-year-old woman from Thailand. She lives with her husband, three daughters, three sons, son-in-law and granddaughter. Than and her family moved from Burma to Thailand ten years ago in search of better job opportunities. Her husband, her oldest daughter, one son, and her son-in-law work as day labourers on their employer’s farm, growing and harvesting tapioca, corn, and cabbage. Her two other sons go to school, while her youngest daughter and her granddaughter are too young to go to school. Than and her second oldest daughter are homemakers. On November 7th, 2020, Than discovered that she had an incisional hernia. Currently, Than experiences abdominal pain throughout the week and has to take pain medication to decrease her pain. She feels uncomfortable when she sits, and when she is in pain, she has to walk or lie down for the pain to ease. Fortunately, on January 28th, she will undergo hernia repair surgery at Mae Sot General Hospital, our medical partner's care center. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund Than's hernia repair surgery. The procedure is scheduled to take place on January 28th and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably and go about her daily activities normally. Than shared, “I was so happy when I learned that I was to go to Mae Tao Clinic [and later Mae Sot Hospital] for treatment. My children are also happy that I will receive treatment with help from donors.”
Saw Ki is a 10-year-old boy living with his parents, sister and a brother in Mae Ra Ma Luang Refugee Camp in Thailand. Saw Ki is in grade two and his siblings also attend school in the camp. At school, Saw Ki’s favorite subject is Koraen literature. In the future, he would like to become an agricultural day laborer and work hard like his father. On the morning of January 30, 2021, Saw Ki was playing with his friends when he slipped on some rocks and fell onto his left arm. Right away, his left arm became extremely painful and his left arm looked deformed. Saw Ki was brought to the refugee camp’s hospital run by Malteser International (MI) Thailand. After a medic completed a physical examination, the medic told him that they thought his left forearm was broken. Saw Ki was referred to Mae Sariang Hospital to receive an x-ray. There, the doctor confirmed that his left forearm was broken and referred him to Chiang Mai Hospital for surgery right away. Currently, Saw Ki cannot move his left hand and he is in a lot of pain. He has been receiving pain medication while waiting for surgery. This surgery is costly for Saw Ki and his family. Saw Ki's father used to work as an agricultural day laborer in nearby villages, but he can no longer work since the refugee camp went into lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19. His mother is a homemaker. Although their household receives a cash card with 2,200 baht (approx. 74 USD) every month to purchase rations, this amount is not enough. Their family struggles to make ends meet without Saw Ki’s father’s income, and they appeal for financial support. With the help of our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, Saw Ki will undergo surgery to reset his fractured bones and ensure proper healing. The procedure is scheduled for February 2nd and will cost $1,500. After surgery, Saw Ki will no longer be in pain and he will be able to return home, play with his friends and also continue his studies. Saw Ki shared, "I want to play a lot of games with both of my hands, like before. I am not scared of receiving surgery."
Myo is a 16-year-old boy from Burma. He lives with his parents and four brothers in northern Rakhine State. Myo is a student in grade nine and his four brothers also go to school. However, they have been unable to study since the Covid-19 pandemic shut all schools. Myo’s parents are day laborers, and their family's combined income is just enough to cover their daily expenses since Myo and his brothers’ schooling is free. To survive with limited income, they forage for vegetables and fish. If they fall ill, they use traditional medicine, which is more affordable then going to a clinic or a hospital. Myo was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, which is the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Myo cannot walk long distances or climb stairs because of his tiredness. Sometimes, he cannot breathe very well. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Myo. The treatment is scheduled to take place on February 7th and, once completed, will hopefully allow him to live more comfortably. Myo shared, “I am worried about my health and I feel sorry for my parents. Because of my health problems, my father had to work more days to earn more money. Also, my mother cannot work because she accompanies me and has to take care of me. I hope my school will reopen soon so that I can go back to school. One day I hope that I can become a teacher. I want to teach because there are not enough teachers in my village.”
Su is a 16-year-old girl from Burma. She has three siblings. Su’s mother is a home maker, and her older brother works as a day labourer. Su and her youngest sister are students and this year Su is in grade seven. Her family's combined monthly income is around 200,000 kyat (approx. 200 USD) per month, which is just enough for their daily expenses, but not enough to pay for basic healthcare. When she has free time, Su loves to play football with her friends at school and she likes to be the goalkeeper. She also loves to read books and watch movies. Su plans to continue her studies as soon as she finishes her treatment. Su was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Currently, Su still feels tired, but not as much as before she started taking her medication. When she feels more tired, her breath quickens. Su has stopped attending school since she got sick. Although she wants to go back to school, her mother worries for her as her school is a little far and she normally walks there. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Su. The treatment is scheduled to take place on February 12nd and, once completed, will hopefully allow her to live more comfortably. Su's mother shared, “Su really wants to go to school but I worry that the long walking distance from our house to her school will make her tired and worsen her condition. So, I asked her to stay home for a while until she can get treated.”
Naw Kwee Moo is a 54-year-old woman from the Karen region in Burma, who lives with her husband and their family in a refugee camp. Of her children, three daughters and three sons still live in the refugee camp along with them near the Thai-Burma border. Naw Kwee is a homemaker and her husband is currently too ill to work. Five of their children go to school in the camp, four other children have moved away, and her second oldest son graduated from a post-secondary program in May 2020. He worked as an agricultural day laborer at a nearby Thai village until mid-December 2020. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, he was no longer allowed to leave the camp. Naw Kwe’s household receives a monthly cash card to purchase basic rations. Although they receive free education and basic health care in the camp, they shared how hard it is to make ends meet. Starting four years ago, Naw Kwee often went to the camp’s hospital run by Malteser International (MI) Thailand to receive treatment for urinary tract infections (UTI). Most of the time, she would feel better after taking medication, but she was no longer able to work as an agricultural day laborer because of her pain. Over the next few years, she was diagnosed with chronic UTI. “I think my condition was caused from consuming dirty water,” she said. “When I worked as a day laborer, we had no access to clean water.” Naw Kwee received antibiotics through an intravenous (IV) line at the camp’s hospital. When her condition did not improve, a doctor at the camp’s hospital referred her again to Mae Sariang Hospital in March 2020. There she received a urine test and an x-ray of her kidneys, ureters and bladder. She was finally diagnosed with a right kidney stone. After multiple visits, the doctor at Mae Sariang Hospital referred her to Chiang Mai Hospital (CMH) for further treatment. However, Naw Kwee could not travel to CMH for a while due to travel restrictions after the outbreak of Covid-19. Finally, last June medical staff from her camp were able to bring Naw Kwee to Chiang Mai. During her appointment, the doctor scheduled her to undergo an intravenous pyelogram on July 16th, 2020. After she received a diagnostic test, she returned to CMH for her follow-up appointment on November 19th, 2020. During her appointment, she received more tests and it was at her next appointment Naw Kwee was told she needed to undergo multiple rounds of laser treatment to break up the stone in her kidney. She received her first round of laser treatment on February 11th, 2021. Two days later, she developed a fever and could only pass a bit of urine. She also started to experience severe back pain and other troubling symptoms. MI staff took her back to the hospital where she received an ultrasound. The nurse shared with her that after her laser treatment, the stones had broken up and many of them where now stuck in her ureter, creating a blockage. She now needs emergency surgery to remove the stones. Our Medical Partner Burma Children Medical Fund is seeking $1,500 to support her surgery and finally relieve her of her painful condition.
Tun is a 73-year-old man who lives with his three daughters in Umpiem Mai Refugee Camp in Thailand. Each month, Tun's household receives a small cash card to purchase rations in the camp, and their monthly household income is just enough to cover daily expenses. In his free time, Tun loves to read books and loves telling stories to his neighbours’ children. He is always welcoming, giving the children snacks and telling them stories from his home. Tun also loves to grow different types of vegetables around his house, sharing the harvest with his neighbours who cannot afford to buy vegetables. Before he felt unwell, Tun used to volunteer, organising cleaning groups in the camp and helping with road repairs. Currently, Tun experiences on and off pain in his upper abdomen. He also has a slight fever and often feels nauseous. Over time, his appetite has gradually decreased, and he has lost weight. Tun has been advised to undergo a cholecystectomy, the surgical removal of the gallbladder. If his condition is left untreated, Tun's symptoms will continue to worsen and he will be at risk for further health complications in the future. After seeking treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), Tun is scheduled to undergo his cholecystectomy on February 16th. BCMF is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of Tun's procedure and care. Once recovered, he will able to resume gardening, volunteering, and socializing with others in the camp. Tun shared, “I love volunteering and I am happy to help the community with whatever I can. But since I got sick, I cannot participate, and I cannot go to the monastery to help clean nor can I meditate. If I ever feel better again, I will continue to help my community with whatever I can do and I will also continue to grow vegetables around my house for my family and for my neighbours.”
Saw Wah is a 16-month-old boy who lives with his parents, two sisters, and three aunts in a refugee camp in Thailand. His mother looks after the household chores while his father works as a security guard in the camp. Despite having free basic health care and education in the camp, their family is working hard each month to make end meets. When Saw Wah was three months old, his mother noticed a bulge on the left side of his groin, which was more pronounced whenever he cried. Two to three days after she noticed the bulge, it disappeared. Earlier this month, Saw Wah's abdomen became distended and his left groin grew swollen. He developed a fever, started to vomit, and was constipated. At first, the swelling started to come down but three days later, the swelling stopped decreasing in size. Doctors want to perform a CT scan, a procedure in which x-ray images taken from several angles are combined to produce cross-sectional images of the body. This scan will hopefully help doctors diagnose Saw Wah's condition and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. Saw Wah's mother shared, "I just want him to be freed from this pain."