Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mae Tao Clinic

Gentle Reader,

Some time ago I posted my initial impression article which was written while I was still in Mae Sot.  I’ve been back three days and have had time to decompress, at least a little.  My initial impression was stick on accurate – Wow would be an understatement.  Today I’ll try to take a look at the scope of the need and Mae Tao Clinic’s contribution to that need. I’ll close with a bit of information on how you can help, if you are so moved.  Please note that the scope of this article is limited to Burmese migrants in Tak province. There are perhaps 65,000 registered and 150,000 unregistered Burmese migrants in Tak province (1).  This group, over 200,000 human beings, are all in Tak province.  They are just part of the bigger picture which would include the migrants and refugees all along the Thai / Burma border.  The bigger picture must also include all those in Burma who suffer at the hands of that junta. The scope of suffering and need is beyond comprehension.

Mae Tao Clinic serves Tak province and supports clinics in Burma.  The contribution made is immense.  I would invite you to spend some time at www.maetaoclinic.org  The site is very well organized and well written.  You will see that the clinic is involved in three main areas:

First they provide health services.  “The Mae Tao Clinic, founded and directed by Dr. Cynthia Maung, provides free health care for refugees, migrant workers, and other individuals who make the dangerous journey across the border from Burma to Thailand” (2).   The daily patient load is around 300 per day and rising.  It’s worth repeating that approximately half of the patients they see each day make a day trip from Burma while the other half are migrants who reside in Tak province.  All medical services at Mae Tao Clinic are free to the patient.
The green uniforms tell me these children reside in Burma
Second they provide medical training.  “Mae Tao Clinic is viewed as an excellent training facility as it offers skilled trainers, including Burmese doctors, senior medics, and international professionals. Due to the Clinic’s high patient load, it also offers extensive practical training. Although travel from inside Burma to the Clinic is expensive and difficult, involving passage through areas of conflict and the passing of security checkpoints both in Burma and Thailand, participants come from all over Burma to attend trainings at MTC”.  (3) Their participation makes a difference in an untold number of lives in Burma.

Third they provide Child Protection: “While Mae Tao Clinic began as a humble health service delivery organisation, it has evolved into an umbrella social services network for refugees, migrant workers, and other displaced Burmese. As a focal point of these activities, child protection is the most rapidly growing area of need. The continued deterioration of services in eastern Burma, coupled with the steadily growing population of migrant families, accounts for the increased demand for our work” (4).  The Child Development Center (CDC) is Mae Tao’s own school with 1,000 students and several boarding houses.  By its self the CDC is a huge project!
"We do not tolerate gambling, illegal drug-taking
 or human trafficking"
Many organizations are suffering from financial shortages.  Mae Tao Clinic is, sadly, included in this group. Anyone with an eye for numbers and a computer can clearly see that Mae Tao Clinic spends their funds wisely and always have the people they serve first in their minds.  Mae Tao Clinic also has a 4 year grant / contract with USAID.  Stringent audits are required as a pre-approval process for any money given out by USAID.  NGO’s who have questionable accounting practices need not apply.  Actually the audits are so stringent that only three accounting firms in Thailand are acceptable to USAID.  This says a whole lot about the quality and sincerity of the Mae Tao Clinic.

One of their recent / current challenges is funding for medicine at the clinic.  Mae Tao has enjoyed a restricted grant from a foreign government which provided some 10 million baht a year for the purchase of medicine. The contract ran out in June and has not been restored.  The agency representatives say it's bureaucratic delays and there nothing to worry about.  However it's been 3 months and Mae Tao is worried.

USAID has already warned Mae Tao Clinic that they may be forced to reduce their funding in the 2nd and 3rd year of the contract.

Mother & Baby at Mae Tao Clinic
Future and present fund raising plans feature diversity.  Past reliance on big government grants make them vulnerable.  Currently 60% come from big Government grants and the governments may be changing their helping strategies.  Mae Tao Clinic wants and needs more unrestricted money.  Given the stringent auditing and reporting requirements they must meet to satisfy their big government donors, it's easy to be certain the money goes to the right place. Audits are clearly posted on their website, they are hiding nothing! Interested donors have several options, based on their country of origin.  You can see those at http://maetaoclinic.org/how-to-help/donate/  In addition to requiring funds to continue operations, Mae Tao clinic is always looking for medical volunteers.  Medical students, doctors, medics and nurses are all invited to volunteer.

Since I’ve been in Thailand, pushing three years now, I’ve seen a lot of organizations that provide opportunities to donate and to volunteer.  Mae Tao Clinic is, in my opinion, the most deserving.  They need and they deserve our help!

Abundant Blessings,

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