"...Katie said Ma Think put on her best clothes and is already waiting outside, so happy!"
I smiled to myself and headed towards Mae Tao Clinic as quickly as I could.
Burma Children's Medical fund is an NGO working with Mae Tao Clinic to provide life saving surgeries for children who would otherwise have no hope for a healthy future. Patients receive treatment and care in Mae Sot, unless they require a special surgery, which is when they go to the hospital in Chiang Mai.
Ma Think Kahn is a beautiful 16 year old girl who's lived at the clinic for a year. She has undergone various surgeries in Chiang Mai. Her parents are faithful and have done everything to provide for her. She was first taken to a hospital in Burma, where even one visit costed more than her poor family could afford. Her father brought her to Mae Sot with hope that Mae Tao could help her. She will go to Chiang Mai on November 11 for her final surgery.
My friend Katie told us about her and asked if anyone could go hang out with her. She gets really lonely, and doesn't have many people to talk to or anything to do. My friend Tdaa and I went to see her for the first time yesterday.
I was a little bit hesitant, I'm semi-confident in my Burmese, but I was unsure that I could find things to talk to her about. I was so happy to find a happy, smiling young woman sitting in the outpatients area, waiting for us. She began chattering away to me, smiling and answering my questions. I told her I would come see her the next day.
I pulled up to the clinic and scanned the crowds of patients milling around. There she was, sitting and waiting patiently for me to come. I went to her and sat beside her.
"Hey little sister!" I said, "I brought some markers and paint, do you want to sit and color?"
She nodded, a big smile on her face. We walked over to a table and began to color and draw.
"That's beautiful." She said, complimenting my tree. "So is yours!" I replied.
We continued to draw together, enjoying the quite and company. A boy wandered past, looking longingly at the white paper and plethora of colors.
"Do you want to color?" I asked, offering them a sheet.
The little boy smiled shyly and came closer, he held his baby brother in his arms.
They were staying at the clinic until their mom gave birth to her baby. The seven year old chatted away as he colored the paper, his imagination filling the blank spaces.
Another older boy ambled over. He came to just talk. He's 16 years old, almost 17. He's from Rangoon and came to Mae Sot with his sister after her husband left her. She's due to have her baby any day now. He shared his childhood, what his life had been like up until that point.
"I'll go tomorrow to find work. I hear that they're hiring at the orange groves. 100 Bot a day."
I stared at him incredulously. "100 bot?" I repeated.
That is a lot of money for a days work, though it's only three American dollars.
I talked to Ma Think about her upcoming surgery.
"Are you scared?" I asked.
She shook her head no.
"I was the first time, but then I saw there were other kids there who were much younger than me, so I had to be brave."
I tried to wrap my mind around it. When I was a child I was scared to go into the dentist office by myself, how could a 16 year old, let alone a 5 year old climb into a van, stay in a house in a foreign city, and go into an intensive surgery alone???
In that moment, everything I thought was difficult about my life melted away. After her surgery she wants to stay in Mae Sot and go to school. She finished 6th grade in Burma but was unable to test because of her illness.
Ma Think's Father, the young lady herself, me, and Tdaa
As I rode my bicycle back to the office I blinked back the tears. Maybe on the outside I look like some kind of hero for giving her my time, but in reality, she's teaching me, she's giving me more than I could ever give her.