GlobeMed at Dartmouth

GlobeMed at Dartmouth is a student-led nonprofit organization based at Dartmouth College which aims to improve the health of people living in poverty. Through our partnership with the Kachin Women's Association Thailand (KWAT), an NGO based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we seek to support Burmese women and children displaced by ethnic conflict in the Kachin State of Burma.
Jul 28, 2014

A Day in the Life at KWAT

KWAT staff practices English with GlobeMed
KWAT staff practices English with GlobeMed

Dear Donors, 

I hope this update finds you all well and enjoying your summer. I’m fortunate enough to be spending mine in Thailand, working as an intern for the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT). For a month now, we have been helping the phenomenal women at KWAT update their website, edit their activity reports, and work on their conversational English.

The project you have helped us to fund is nearly complete. KWAT now has a laboratory where they can test patients on the Burma-China border, without referring them to a hospital that may be far away and dangerous to reach. Even though the laboratory is just about ready for patients, there will always be financial need to keep it stocked and pay its staff, so recurrent donations are appreciated!

This project falls under KWAT’s Health Program, but with this report, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about what I have seen at KWAT, which has more to do with some of their other programs. 

The office, at first glance, is pretty boring. Each staff member is parked in front of her own computer, the monotony occasionally broken by conversations in rapid Kachin that I have no hope of following. 

It gets more interesting when you realize that on every computer screen are stories of rape and murder, spelled out without emotion and without bias. 

“She was shot and wounded when the Burmese soldiers attacked at a temporary jungle IDP camp. There were 34 villagers taking refuge in the jungle…Her granddaughter …was captured along with her four-year-old daughter and another woman…who has 23-day-old baby. [That woman] was killed within a night and [her granddaughter] was taken with the Burmese military offensive mission troop along the way. Her body was found by her family later.” 

KWAT collects these stories because the world does not listen to Kachin people—it listens to the Burmese government.

Even in everyday tasks, there are jolting reminders of the fact that everyone here has lost something. We are practicing conversational English with four KWAT staff members. The prompt was simple: write a letter to a friend back home, describing what is going on in your life. We were expecting the typical; “I’m very busy at work, I just got a new cat, the mangoes are in season.”

What we got:

“Have you seen my family members, are they okay?”

“I wish I can go home someday and see you.”

“How is the situation there? I think it is still bad.”

The war in Burma is not ending. Many more families will be separated, more women and children forced to flee their homes. There will be a need for KWAT and its programs for a very long time. 

Thank you for being a part of our team as we do what we can to combat some of the disparities that Kachin people face. 

With gratitude,

Lisa Carson

May 5, 2014

Thank you!

Dear Donors, 

I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the spring! I want to thank you for your continued support of GlobeMed at Dartmouth and our partner, the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT).

Since our project focuses on health and health education, I’d love to share with you a little more about KWAT’s work in the field. One of the two IDP camps that KWAT works in has over 1,500 people. In that camp, there would be no health services at all without KWAT. One woman died during childbirth because there were no nurses. So then, KWAT provided two nurses, along with medical supplies, and the camp built a small room for a clinic. Two people at a time can stay there for treatment. According to our contact Mai, people in this camp are now very happy because at least they have the clinic, the medicine, and the nurses.

In addition, in the same camp, there are two families for which the whole family has HIV/AIDS. And on top of that, nine people have tuberculosis (TB). These people were only able to find out about their condition because KWAT was there to refer them for diagnosis. Now, they are taking ARVs and TB medication. This successful treatment is a great victory for KWAT.

Still, there’s more to be done. TB can transmit very easily, especially in crowded camp conditions. However, people there don’t always know that the TB is quickly transmitting, and so, for example, infected people will still stay close to their children (which puts the children at high risk). That’s why KWAT needs to be able to spread more health awareness in the camps, and that’s why we are supporting a school health education program to be implemented by KWAT. Again, thank you for your help with this effort!

Back at Dartmouth, a team of four students is excitedly preparing to work at KWAT for eight weeks this summer. GlobeMed always learns so much more about our wonderful partner on this trip, and we can’t wait to share any new information with you. Stay tuned! 

Sincerely,

Julie Ivy

Links:

Feb 3, 2014

Our Partner KWAT

Participants in KWAT
Participants in KWAT's Anti-Trafficking Program

Dear Donors,

Thank you so much for your kind support of GlobeMed at Dartmouth!  Your generosity will make possible the implementation of a school health education program and a community health outreach campaign for Kachin victims of ethnic conflict in Burma.  

Over here at Dartmouth, we’re excitedly preparing for our yearly Benefit for Burma dinner. Guest speaker Dr. Lisa Adams will present on her global health work in Rwanda and Dr. Margo Krasnoff will explore cultural competency in the Americas. This dinner will be a great opportunity for GlobeMed to spread awareness about the conflict in Burma, about our partnership with the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), and about global partnerships in general. 

During our regular communications with KWAT, we’ve asked our contact, Mai, a few questions that GlobeMed members came up with. I’m sure some of you have had the same questions, so I’ve included two of her responses here, and you can find the full exchange at a link below.

What are the origins / what is the history behind the formation of KWAT?

In Burma the military regime has been in power for several decades, resulting in armed conflict with the various minority ethnic people including the Kachin, who occupy the northernmost state on the China border. The Kachin Independence Army was the first to negotiate a ceasefire with the junta in 1994 but promises of investment in the infrastructure in Kachin State have not been realized. Instead, the military regime has authorized and benefitted from large-scale extraction of Kachin’s natural resources – timber, gold, jade and HEP – and these benefits are not shared with the Kachin people. Mismanagement of the economy, the prioritizing of military expenditure over public services, spiraling costs of basic commodities as well as schooling and medical care, are making it increasingly difficult for people to survive so many Kachin people, mainly young men and women, have left their homeland and scattered to foreign countries.

The number of Kachin people coming to Thailand is growing year on year and the social and economic problems in the Kachin community have also increased accordingly. Recognizing the urgent need for women to organize themselves to help solve these problems both in Kachin State and in Thailand, five far-sighted women formed the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) in Chiang Mai on the 9th September 1999.

Have you ever become particularly emotionally invested in one of the survivor’s stories?

We have many true stories but here is one. A 23 days old baby was in the jungle for 2 days crying all days and nights because his mother was shot and dead by Burmese soldiers while they were fleeing. So this baby was picked by his father after two days and the baby was still alive but need extra medical care. His body was all sun burned and turned dark. Our clinic had taken care of this baby for three months. His father cried a lot whenever he saw the baby. So our clinic nurses keeps and take care of the baby in the clinic. At nights, the baby slept with one nurse after another. The baby never slept when he was not hug. Now this baby is in good health and staying with his adopted parents.

I hope this gives you a better idea of the wonderful organization that you have been supporting. Thank you again so much!!

Sincerely,

Julie Ivy and the GlobeMed at Dartmouth Members

GlobeMed at Dartmouth Members
GlobeMed at Dartmouth Members

Links:

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