Medical Team Volunteers at Agape
Three doctors, two volunteers and a Singaporean researcher and journalist made a trip to Mae Sot in December. They spent three days performing health screening and check ups on over 200 children at the school, providing health and hygiene training, and purchasing supplies to improve hygiene and nutrition at Agape.
The team leader first came to Mae Sot in January 2010. She visited Agape, along with projects in Umphium camp, writing an article for Asian Geographic magazine which has yet to be published. She left Mae Sot with a plan to return home and fundraise – something many people have good intentions of doing.
Back in Singapore, Catherine got down to business and got to work. She organized several Party Against Poverty events – inviting people to local bars to eat, drink and donate merrily to the cause of healthy children on the Thai Burma border.
She convinced her friends to join her and got together a team of doctors finding that one of the greatest challenges of the trip would be coordinating the schedules of three busy medical professionals – no mean feat in itself.
With the money raised, and her team together, Catherine flew into Bangkok with a load of medical supplies donated by hospitals in Singapore – only to have the boxes seized and confiscated by customs. No letter we could write, no appeals from the local medical clinic would prevail. The medicines were unfortunately lost in great maw of beurocracy.
The team arrived in Mae Sot and got straight to work, meeting the teachers at Agape and making their plan. They photocopied health screening forms, picked up supplies to replace those lost and dug in. Over the next three days, they weighed, measured and assessed the health of over 200 children in the Agape Boarding House and school. With the help of some interpreters, they trained all the children and staff on basic hygiene practices like proper brushing of teeth, preventing lice, and taking care of common cuts and scrapes.
Several children required medical attention beyond their abilities so they coordinated with Mae Tao Clinic to perform some simple surgery for a few children. Ten children were identified as suffering malnutrition, and the doctors left funds for the purchase of milk powder for a three month period to treat those children.
In addition to the long days on the ground seeing child after child, the team kept busy in the markets, buying up a year’s worth of cleaning supplies for the school and dormitory as well as soap, shampoo and washing powder for the children. They even managed to pick up a couple of new bicycles, much to everyone’s delight.
When they left, the team left behind them a school full of healthy children, fortified by daily multivitamin supplements, a room full of boxes of hygiene supplies designed to keep them clean for a year, funds for monthly food supplementation all year, and a lot of extremely happy children who were sad to see them go.