Today we feature an international edition of Doctor’s Orders, as the good Dr Bendel is currently abroad, but let’s let him tell it.
“I have been in Southeast Asia for the past few weeks, working at a medical clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand, roughly 3 kilometers from the Burmese border, in a town inhabited by UN & NGO workers, drug & human traffickers, guerilla warlords, mercenaries, missionaries, monks, medics, amputees, and, of course, the people that have drawn them all here - Burmese civil war refugees, thousands of them (and hundreds of thousands in the 2 nearby refugee camps). Mostly belonging to the Karen ethnic group, they have been bravely and fiercely fighting the Burmese for over 60 years. The Karen in Thailand (and in Burma) have no rights, little education, and almost no access to health care, so the Mae Tao clinic at which I’ve been working is a true godsend for the Karen people. Most of their staff - including its Nobel Prize nominated director - are Karen refugees themselves, as is one of my close friends here in town, having spent a good portion of his twenties as a guerilla resistance fighter in the Burmese jungle.
“He's keen on video editing, and has made a variety of music video home movies of his family, complete with Karen pop music. The song featured is a reggae-ish Karen song called “Poe Tha Dah” (Little Child) and will give you a glimpse of my friend's family (he's even instructed his 2 children to call me Didi Kalawa, literally, Uncle White Guy), his single room tenement in which I've shared so many meals, seated on the floor and often eaten with our hands, and a little bit of the outskirts of town and its fields and rice paddies, where the refugees all must live. You will also see the flag of Kawthoolei, literally, "land without evil", the name of the Karen state.”