GlobeMed at UC: GROW 2013

The Interns: Codee Boyce|Adam Voegele|Ceejay boyce|Shanelle Davner

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Project implementation, learning, and friendship.

The past few days have been a lot to take in. Thursday through Saturday we saw our project implemented! To say that it was rewarding and gratifying is putting it lightly. Our project is the Community Health Outreach Project (CHOP), and throughout the past year we have been fundraising and advocating for the second phase of this project. Phase 2 consists of Dr. Htin Zaw and project coordinator, Yi Yi Win, teaching health education workshops to willing community members. These community members apply to be peer educators through SAW. These applicants then attend a number of health education workshops, and after these projects are completed, Yi Yi Win and the rest of the SAW staff will collaborate to decide on ~20 peer educators that will branch out into different migrant worker communities to serve as references for basic healthcare.
This is inexplicably important because Dr. Htin Zaw is the only free physician/healthcare provider in this entire region. This is a problem due to not only the large amount of migrant workers in the region, but also the displacement of them. The communities that these migrant workers live in are so widespread and far apart, that providing all of them with adequate healthcare is near impossible for just one person. When we travel with the Mobile Medical Team as GROW interns, we drive 45 minutes just to get to one community in Phop Phra. There are 58 communities that SAW’s Mobile Medical Team serves. Thus arises the need for health peer educators in these regions. Yi Yi Win also said that these peer educators would not only be invaluable to their communities, but that the training and title itself would bring these educators self-confidence and importance, which would further empower them to be influential members in their communities.
During our GROW internship, we were able to attend one of these trainings. During the past three days, Dr. Htin Zaw discussed a vast amount of topics, which included the following:
-headaches due to anxiety, stress and depression
-the use of Ibuprofen and Propanolol 
-the use of contraceptives and birth control
-UTI infections
-the use and different types of antibiotics (septrin, co-trimoxazole, and norfloxacine)
-breast and cervical cancer (detection, treatments, and knowledge of the disease)
-mental health (drug abuse and PTSD)
-HIV and SDTs
-dental hygiene
-sanitation and person hygiene
These topics were planned and also brought up by peer educator applicants. I personally enjoyed the atmosphere of the health education workshops. Instead of a lecture-type workshop, it was more of an open discussion where Dr. Htin Zaw planned certain discussion and also allowed questions and concerns to lead other conversations. We noticed that Dr. Htin Zaw thoroughly went over medicine use and dosing. Haung said that the big problems that these communities face are misdiagnosing and the lack of understanding medicines. Migrant workers just taking medicine when they are sick, not knowing what the medicine is and not knowing what their sickness is. This is usually not only a waste of medicine, but a health hazard to the patient.
I think I can speak for all of us by saying that these work shops were rather humbling. The applicants were asking questions like, “can I use birth control to treat a fever or headache?” and, “what can Ibuprofen cure?” These questions were surprisingly simplistic. These questions are easily know in the US, and the fact that grown adults were uneducated in very basic healthcare was disheartening, but it gave us pride in our project and a pride that we may be a part of something that would really educate and help these communities.
We were only part of one of these workshops, and We can’t wait to see the final effect of the entire project once it is finished. For the communities’ sake, and for Dr. Htin Zaw’s sake. He puts his entire life into these people. Today he explained,
“I went to bed at 3:45am. There was a knock at my door at 4:00am. A patient that needed my help. I got up and saw to him, and then I had trouble falling back asleep. I was asleep probably 45 minutes after I laid back down. Then, there a a knock at my door at 6:00am. Another patient! I saw to him and then I had to start my day. I got 45 minutes of sleep total. I’m going to need a lot of coffee!”
It’s things like this that make us proud of what GlobeMed does, and it pushes us even harder to work towards helping these communities. Throughout these past few weeks, I think all of us now think of SAW less as a partner, and more as a family. These communities are starting to become our own communities, and I think that is a great unforeseen aspect of GROW. I knew that the strengthening of our partnership was one of the main purposes of this trip, but I could have never foreseen this type of relationship. This is something invaluable that we are going to be able to bring back to our chapter, far better than any souvenir we come across.

Much GlobeMed love,

Adam, Shanelle, Codee, Ceejay

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The Places We’ve Been, The Things We’ve Seen…

It has been quite awhile since we have had an update on the main blog. This has mostly been due to our lack of wi-fi at the guesthouse. In order to get internet we either have to go to a restaurant or coffee shop and even then we only get a couple of hours (including eating/drinking time) so we’ve mostly been just keeping up with our personal pages that are linked to this main one. So to give everyone a brief update on all we’ve been up to, I’m going to list the things we have done each day. In order to get more personal insight on each days’ events, check out the team members’ pages.

Sunday, August 4th: The Day Market

The day market was definitely an experience for all of us. It was a sensory overload with so many unique sights and smells coming from each stand along the road in combination with the heat of the intense mid-day sun. I think we were all pretty glad to seek out air conditioning in the Hong Long Minimart and the micromarket we visited on our way back to the guesthouse. We each picked up a few items, souvenirs and personal items, while we were out and then came back to the guesthouse—happy to cool off.

Monday, August 5th: SAW Presentation & The Mae Tao Clinic

We started the morning off with a presentation at SAW, given by the director Aye Aye Mar, which reviewed the origin of SAW, its mission, and all of the programs currently running. The presentation itself was very informative, and I look forward to brining it back to the chapter so all the staff can get a better understanding of our partner. Aye Aye Mar also took questions at the end and clarified a few points we were a bit unclear on. It was really humbling to see how much our partner does and how lucky we are to work with such an ambitious and successful organization.

After the presentation, we were introduced to Dr. Htin Zaw for the first time. Shanelle and I recognized him immediately from the pictures from the last GROW trip, and we were all excited that he would be our guide for the afternoon visit at the Mae Tao Clinic. As one of the few traveling medical doctors here in Mae Sot, Dr. Htin Zaw was familiar with the Mae Tao Clinic and got us a tour of the clinic’s facilities. We were surprised by the amount of services the clinic provides to the people who come there. Their departments range from basic testing for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, STDs/STIs, and malaria to a surgical unit and maternity ward. We finished up our tour by each purchasing a tshirt to support their organization and headed home for the day.

Tuesday, August 6th: Visiting Phop Phra

Today was the first day we were able to see the communities we have been helping in Phop Phra. We visited four different locations—44 km, 42 km, 38 km, and 36 km—and toured each one with Dr. Htin Zaw, Yi Yi Win, Sue, and May. We were able to see the Best Friends School I and II, the replacement latrines we helped fund after the fire, and all the adorable children both at school or back home in their communities.

Wednesday, August 7th: YCOWA & The Rubbish Place

We started the day off at the office of the Yuang Chi Oo Worker’s Association (YCOWA) and met the staff members we would be hanging out with for the day. The main speaker—she spoke wonderful English—Chan Myae was an adorable young woman (with a chemical engineering degree) who acts as a coordinator of both the safe house and the daycare center. We were able to visit both of these facilities and learned a lot about this labor assistance organization. YCOWA focuses on providing Burmese migrant workers with as many of their resources as they can. If a migrant worker wishes to sue their employer based on their rights, YCOWA provides them with legal counsel. If a migrant worker is between jobs, or struggling in any way, YCOWA provides them with food, shelter, and even vocational training (if they want to) at their safe house. YCOWA also provides a daycare center near the fields where some migrants work in agriculture so that there is someone to care for the children who might otherwise prevent their parent from working due to their needs. Finally, YCOWA works with Dr. Htin Zaw to have a clinic twice a week—Wednesdays and Saturdays, 3-5 PM—at a school near “The Rubbish Place” also known as the city dump.

The Rubbish Place was our final location of the day, and we learned that nearly 100 families live amongst the trash and make their living sorting through it to find any types of materials they can sell back to select factories. This is the only way they are able to make money—typically no more than $2 a day—because if they try to sell to other people or factories, they will be reported to the government and are at risk of deportation since all of them are undocumented. Technically, they aren’t even supposed to be living in the dump—or working there for that matter—because they are undocumented migrants and sometimes have to up and leave their houses built from trash in order to escape being caught. This visit really drove home just how corrupt the government here along the border is, and how easily they take advantage of these migrants out of personal greed.

Thursday, August 8th: New Day Learning Center & Border Market

We started the morning at the New Day Learning Center, a migrant school near the Friendship Bridge, and learned about how the school was run. Aung somehow managed to convince us to teach some of the different grade levels. We mainly focused on English since it is rare for the students to have practice with natural English speakers. The whole team was very nervous and I think some of us were cut out for it a little better than others—having more natural practice with kids and good questions to ask them. Overall, the experience was great and we were all happy that the kids seemed so happy.

We headed to the market right by the Friendship Bridge that we had planned on visiting on one of the first days that we had arrived. At that time it was closed due to the damage done by the severe flooding right before we arrived in Mae Sot. We looked around the shops—Yi Yi, Lana, Aung, Sue, May, and the team—and all of us found some things at different places within the market.

It’s been decided that Lana—who was mostly along for the ride because she knew how to drive the truck—is one of the sweetest and funniest people we’ve met. She is convinced that she really doesn’t speak English that well, but I found her to be quite fluent and understood her while listening intently. She told us about her son whom she adopted—a five year old whose mother was trafficked out of Burma to China, was bought and wed to a Chinese man with eleven other wives, proceeded to find out that she was HIV+ when she was four months pregnant, fled to Burma to save her baby, and gave birth at the Mae Tao Clinic where she gave the boy up. Lana lit up when talking about him and how happy she was that he was miraculously HIV negative and was always on the go like typical hyper five year olds are. We were able to meet her son on the following Saturday, and he lived up to her words—being so cute and lively.

Friday, August 9th: Our First Free Day

We used our free day, for the most part, to relax and get some personal things done. We went back to the Hong Long Minimart to get some breakfast foods for our rooms, looked at the various shops along the street for souvenirs, ate at a KFC and headed home for the day. I found it refreshing to have the day to just relax, reflect on the things we’ve experienced, and just read the day away.

Saturday, August 10th: The Safe House & The Children Crisis Center

The Safe House is home to roughly 60 children, ranging in age from seven months to 12 years, and about a third of them spent the morning playing with us. The children flocked to the adults of their same gender and I was pretty pleased with this. Aung and Adam seemed to be getting all the hyper, aggressive boys while Shanelle, Codee, Sue, May, and I were playing with the little girls and babies. These kids sure loved their hand clap games and running around screaming, but it was great to see them in their natural atmosphere unafraid to be themselves around us. We left the Safe House during the kids’ lunchtime.

Our next stop, after our own meal, was the Children Crisis Center. There were only 17 kids living and attending school here, so it was a much quieter atmosphere than in the morning. Aung, once again, twisted our arms and we ended up practicing speech and grammar skills in English with the students. We closed our lesson by creating a story about a blue cat named MoMo—each student adding his or her own sentence to the story on the board. We’ll post the story soon so you can see how interesting it got.

Sunday, August 11th: The Mobile Medical Team

The Mobile Medical Team consisted of Dr. Htin Zaw, Yi Yi, Aung, Sue and the GROW team. Saia Thi and Thin Thin were there too but they were more observational and spent a lot of the time documenting the day with their cameras. We first stopped at the community where Best Friends School I is, had our coffee, and learned about how to decide the dosages of both the Vitamin A drops and deworming pills based on the children’s ages. We headed out to a large community—roughly 80 members—and set up shop in what seemed like the community’s pantry or soup kitchen. Dr. Htin Zaw and Sue set up inside with all medical supplies and chairs for the patients waiting to see him, while Yi Yi, Aung and the GROW team set up right outside the door. We provided a little over 70 kids with Vitamin A drops and deworming pills that day, and we still had to wait almost two hours for Dr. Htin Zaw’s line to diminish. It was sad to think about how long these people have to wait to receive the medical attention they need because of legal, geographical, and economic reasons. Overall, the experience really showed how important health education—especially on how to prevent illnesses or diseases—is to the community’s health as a whole.

On the way back, Dr. Htin Zaw stopped us at a fruit stand where they sell his favorite fruit—called a custard apple. We bought enough for each of us and all of us, except for Adam, found it to be quite delicious. The taste and texture was similar to a mango but a little different. Being hungry from the long morning, we ate them on the way back into Mae Sot to tide us over until lunch.

We had expected to head back to the final two communities the MMT planned on visiting after lunch, but we were dropped off at our guesthouse instead. My guess is they thought they had worn us out. In a way, I felt like they had—being up so early, the heat, and the sheer number of patients that needed seen—but I wouldn’t have minded visiting the smaller communities too. In any case, we were all very glad for the experience and found it memorable each in our own ways.

Monday, August 12th: Mother’s Day Celebration

Today, we attended a ceremony held at the SAW elementary and high school grounds. They were celebrating Mother’s Day by praying to their mothers and pinning pretty white flowers on their mothers’ jackets. For the students without mothers, the ceremony was still conducted only with their teacher instead. When we ran into Yi Yi, towards the end of the ceremony, her entire jacket was covered in flowers—showing how many children wanted to pin their flowers and show appreciation to her. After seeing her interact with the scared children yesterday—apparently vitamin drops and chewable tablets are more intimidating than you might think—I was not surprised by how much children love her. We finished watching the ceremony and piled into the truck with about 20 children in the back and dropped them off at their respective communities. It was a short and sweet day, and I was honored that SAW wanted us to observe their traditions on this holiday.

I hope that this gives you a better idea of what has been going on over here, and we plan to be updating more regularly now that there is wi-fi at the guesthouse again.

GlobeMed Love,

Ceejay, Shanelle, Codee & Adam

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The Friendship Bridge

Today we were with TLA, TP, May, and a young man who lives at the SAW boarding house. We drove about five minutes to the Friendship Bridge—a bridge connecting Burma and Thailand. Due to the recent flood, which greatly affected this area, many of the sites we had initially planned to visit were destroyed or abandoned. The flood affected the Burmese side of the river more so than the Thai side because of how the river flows. There is a bend in the river such that when it floods, the water chooses the path of least resistance and flows through Burma instead of around the bend. The flood did plenty of damage to both sides of the river though. It was evident by how high the mud lines were on the trees that most buildings on either side of the river had been completely submerged in water—to the ground floor at least. We walked on the path along the Thai side of the river for about half an hour listening to TLA talk about the relationship between Burma and Thailand, how Thai people feel about Burmese migrants, and his personal background from Burma. We learned that the Thai government has become more accepting of Burmese migrants as peace progress is being made in Burma. TLA said that about two years ago, if a Burmese body was found on the side of the road the most that would be done about the situation would be having the body moved to a graveyard. He said this was because the Thai government mostly just wanted to protect its people, not necessarily work on these foreign relations. We also learned that Thai people who are not living in the towns or cities made up of many Burmese people are much more polite and respectful of the Burmese. However, people who are members of a society made up of 90% Burmese, are much more rude to the Burmese people who have fled Burma because they feel overpowered by the number of illegal immigrants inhabiting their area. While telling us this, TLA mentioned how he had fled from Burma as a political prisoner in 2008 and has just recently been able to go back to visit two or three times because of negotiations he made with the Burmese Embassy.

After we asked a few more questions about the relationship between the two countries and the area in general, we headed to the Tesco Lotus Extra Supermarket a few minutes down the road. It was laid out similarly to a Walmart Supercenter on the second floor; your typical grocery aisles, clothing section, electronics, household supplies, and some specialty service shops. However, on the first floor, there was a cafeteria, several chain restaurants (Dunkin Donuts, Dairy Queen, etc), and what TLA called “brand name” stores (we obviously hadn’t heard of most of the brands). We toured the first floor briefly, noting a movie theater (which TLA explained we can’t go to since all the movies are Thai dubbed with Thai subtitles), and then went to the second floor to grab some groceries for our rooms at the guesthouse. Since Baan Tung doesn’t provide breakfast, we grabbed some muffins and other baked goods as well as some chocolate milk and mango juice. We took advantage of the free wi-fi while we waiting for TLA, TP, and May to finish their shopping. We then went to the cafeteria and had lunch. We had an interesting time trying to decide what we should eat since most of the identification cards and menus were only written in Thai and Burmese. Playing it safe, we all settled on a chicken and rice dish with different sauce options.

After lunch we talked about our plans for tomorrow. We will either be going downtown and visiting the markets or volunteering at one of SAW’s shelters. Either way, we are bound to have a great time bonding with the SAW staff more and immersing ourselves further into this wonderful city. Stay tuned for pictures from today!

Ceejay, Shanelle, Adam & Codee

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The SAW Team

After dinner with SAW on the first night, we met the SAW staff members whom we will be interacting with on this trip. Below is a list of their names and nicknames (which is probably how we will be referencing them from now on). We hope to have bios on each one later on.

Su Myat Win – Sue

May Myat Noe Thin – May

Thwin Linn Aung – TLA

Yi Yi Win – Yi

Aung Tun Lin – Aung

Tlar Pu – TP

Also, on a side note, we are each taking turns writing on the main blog. If you know us each personally, you will probably be able to tell who is writing which post. For those of you who may not know us all, we will be signing the author’s name first in our signature line!

Ceejay, Shanelle, Adam & Codee

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Finally where we’re supposed to be. (Kind of)

Good (insert time of day appropriate for you here)!

It’s 1am here in Bangkok. We actually got here without anything bad happening. Flights were kinda awesome, security was quick, and we got all of our luggage!

We had an interesting cab ride to the hotel, but I splurged on some of my global data plan to GPS out the hotel to get us here.
Everyone is really nice, and they all bow to us, which is still going to take some getting used to.

Really what’s next for us is an early wake-up call at 6:00am, getting to the airport for our 8:00am flight to Mae Sot, and checking into the guest house where we’ll be staying for three weeks!


We’re all about to crash after literally an entire day’s worth of travel, so good night everyone!

Stay tuned for the awesome stuff that’s about to happen!

GlobeMed love,
Adam, Ceejay, Codee, Shanelle

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From Tokyo, Japan

Good evening/morning!

It’s about 5:20PM here in Tokyo. We’re all feeling quite exhausted from our first three flights, but only two more plane rides to go!

The planes.. they’ve been fun. Two of our members learned about altitude and pressure change by having their drinks spill on their shirts after opening. We’ve also enjoyed the luxury of free movies on our personal screens!

We’ll soon be arriving in Bangkok, Thailand, where we will stay for the night before boarding our last plane to Mae Sot! It’s incredibly exciting that we’re so close to meeting SAW and beginning our internship! So stay tuned!

With GlobeMed Love,
Codee, Shanelle, Adam, & Ceejay

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An Overview

We’re all a bit anxious as Tuesday morning is quickly approaching! Little last minute details here and there are being taken care of, so essentially, all we have left to do is wait.

That being said, we decided to give you all a brief overview of the purpose behind this trip and what you can expect to read about in future blog posts!

Within the first couple of days, the team will be getting to know the SAW staff, learning more about the organization’s current activities, and visiting SAW’s shelters. We are all looking forward to strengthening our relationship with our partner and really seeing, first-hand, everything they’ve been contributing to the community.

Throughout the next week, we will travel to the Mae Tao Clinic, local Mae Sot organizations and migrant schools, and participate in a trip to Phop Phra with the Mobile Medical Team! The MMT is headed by Dr. Htin Zaw and, after hearing about the last team’s experience, we are all very eager to meet him! 

Between some of our visits we have the occasional day off, which we will be utilizing to immerse ourselves in the Thai culture and explore our new surroundings. You can look forward to some pretty cool pictures and funny stories! Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the team is most excited for our second visit to Phop Phra, where we will be observing the implementation of the project we funded on campus this past school year.

We hope that this gives you better insight on our trip and that you’ll follow along starting July 30th! Until then!

With GlobeMed Love,

Codee, Shanelle, Ceejay, & Adam

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

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27 Days. 648 Hours. 38880 Minutes. Who’s Counting?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

The team bios have been posted below, you’ve gotten to know a little more about us as individuals, but wait..


Go ahead and click on the names along the top of this main page to access our personal blogs! In addition to the general GROW team updates, you’ll be able to follow and read about our individual, more personal, journeys.

With GlobeMed Love,

Ceejay, Shanelle, Adam, & Codee

Photo created by Codee Boyce

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Our GROW Interns:
Name: Adam Voegele
Age: 21
Major Area of Study: Nursing
Career Goals: I will be attending grad school in the fall at the University of Cincinnati, with the hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner.
Position in GlobeMed/Years of Involvement: I’m finishing my second year in GlobeMed as the chapter’s GROW Coordinator!
On the trip, I am excited to: strengthen our partnership, observe our programs taking place, immerse myself in a completely different culture, try new foods, and see an elephant!
On the trip, I am nervous for: communication and being photographed with imminent pit stains.
Fun Fact: I watch Spongebob almost every day.

Our GROW Interns:

Name: Adam Voegele

Age: 21

Major Area of Study: Nursing

Career Goals: I will be attending grad school in the fall at the University of Cincinnati, with the hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Position in GlobeMed/Years of Involvement: I’m finishing my second year in GlobeMed as the chapter’s GROW Coordinator!

On the trip, I am excited to: strengthen our partnership, observe our programs taking place, immerse myself in a completely different culture, try new foods, and see an elephant!

On the trip, I am nervous for: communication and being photographed with imminent pit stains.

Fun Fact: I watch Spongebob almost every day.