Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 12: Visiting the Clinic

Journal July 12

Thra Simon took me and Ebenezer (a Swedish pastor originally a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka. A good portion of his congregation is now Karen refugees, so he came to see what was going on) to Dr. Cynthia's clinic. The clinic has been around for about 20 years and provides medical care for Burmese illegals, the ones without refugee status. I don't know what the figures are on them; I've heard there are about 300 living at the dump in Mae Sot but I haven't located the dump yet. Many are migrant farm workers. I remember when I worked at the Cambodian refugee camp on the other side of Thailand in 1981, many of the people coming in from Cambodia hadn't gone into camps. They were "sheltered" by Thai families, many of them being used for slave labor. That seems to be somewhat true here. Employment is tenuous. Dr. Simon told me that 17 or 18 bodies were found in the rivers – a work detail the employer decided was cheaper to shot than pay. Because they're illegal, they have no recourse if the person who offers them work doesn't pay them.

I'd heard about the clinic since coming to Mae La. To get to it, you turn into an unprepossessing side road between shops. The whole compound of buildings seems to be the clinic with places to sleep, people everywhere, a room filled with mothers and children. I have a few pictures, but it wasn't a place I felt comfortable photographing. Too personal. Ebenezer wanted to see Dr. Cynthia whom he had met when she came to Sweden to accept the "alternate" Nobel peace prize given by the King. I'm not sure the person taking the message understood him (I have problems) and returned with the message that she was too busy to see anyone. I didn't meet her, but I checked her out on-line. Try this link:


No comments: