Under The Spotlight
By Jerry Nelson
Interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung
of the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot
Dr. Cynthia Maung, founder
of the Mae Tao Clinic for Burmese refugees in Tak has seen the site grow
to include education and more.
By Jerry Nelson
This is the second part of an interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung, the
founder of the Mae Sot Clinic that provides medical care as well as
community services for Burmese refugees in Mae Sot, Tak province.
JN: How many children are at the Child Development Center (CDC)?
CM: This year 850. Middle school and high school children need to
come to CDC. Primary students can go to surrounding migrant schools.
Last year we started a pilot program. Usually there is no formal
education after 15 years old. In our pilot program we take children over
15 years old; currently there are about 35 children. They take 10 to 12
periods per week for accreditation. The rest they can study Burmese and
English. This year we will try to increase the number so we will recruit
more Thai teachers. The Suwaminnit foundation will also support us. In
the learning centers we employ Burmese teachers at perhaps 3,500 to
5,000 baht, but the Thai teachers require standard pay like 10,000 or
12,000, two programs one for above 15 and one for below 15. Pilot
program above 15. Recruiting more Thai teachers. The children need to
learn Thai but it’s difficult to get teachers. Note: After the Interview
I met with CDC staff; more details will be provided in an upcoming
JN: Are there many people talking about wanting to go back to
CM: It depends on the situation here and in Burma, and it depends
on the job and the man and the family situation. The children should
have options so it’s important they can get accreditation from Thailand
and/or Burma. Asean standards will apply in the future.
JN: When will Asean standards be applied? I’ve heard it’s
possible in 2 years.
CM: Depends on Education Departments in both Thailand and Burma,
Government leadership and civil society groups. Needs to be at country
level but also at the local level. It may be 5 years.
JN: What local NGO’S support you?
CM: Suwannimit is the registered organization. They work with
several other organizations.
JN: Tell me about the Mae Tao Clinic Intern program
CM: The ethnic Karen organization, the conduct training that
lasts 6 months in the community. After they need some critical skills so
we offer apprenticeship. This year we accept about 98. They come from
the camp, they come from Burma. They are here for 4 months to learn how
to be a mid-wife. They can learn basic clinical procedures for infant
care, under 5 care and normal delivery, case study and updated protocol.
Another program is program management; we have people working on child
protection, education, project management, public relations. Currently
we have 20 interns and some of them are in CDC office and some of them
are working in child protection. After they finish they will go back and
work in their community.
CM: The clinic is a teaching place; it needs to supply the
community [with medical talent].
JN: You were talking with people from the health ministry about
CM: They are from the hospital [BKK Ministry of health}. They are
very interested because of 3,000 cases; about 50% are under age of 20.
They are very interested to learn about the border issue. For Mae Tao
clinic we don’t have specific programs. So we refer to Mae Sot hospital
or to one CBO called Dare.
CM: Another issue is that sometimes they need other recreation
activities. Without this it is very difficult. Our young people in Mae
Sot are more and more turning to drugs. It is difficult to get the young
people involved in sports activity or recreation. This needs to be done
in a more comprehensive way. We need a lot of cooperation.
JN: Maybe the Rotary could help? What else can we do?
CM: I think Rotary has many members who are willing to build the
society. Asean will be another 5 years. Our priorities where you may be
able to help include Education, Child Protection & Health. Support for
Burmese Migrant Teachers Association (BMTA) and Suwannimit Foundation.
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