Mingala-ba, or Hello–from Thailand!
We finally arrived at the BWU office in Mae Sot, Thailand on Saturday at 5:30am after 48 hours of travel in planes, taxis, and buses. We were exhausted to say the least, but pleased to have made it safely with no major mishaps.
After catching a few winks, we had our first meeting with six of the BWU staff in Mae Sot. We discussed expectations of the internship, our timeline on-site, and got an introduction to the inner-workings of the organization (more details on this later). The meeting was so open and natural, and the six Burmese women so genuine and passionate that we felt immediately embraced into their lives and work towards the empowerment of Burmese women. Our hosts took us to an open air curry shop down the street for a 20Baht (under a dollar) bowl of Thai noodle soup. The flavors were complex and (mostly) delicious!
On Sunday we were given a day to rest and adjust to the 14 hour time difference, and we took the opportunity to adventure out of our neighborhood/compound. We rode bicycles on the road toward the central town of Mae Sot winding between road side market stalls, jungle, and rice paddies avoiding motorbikes, trucks, goats, and water buffalo. As if to fully induct us into the quintessential Thai experience, we were also caught in a refreshing rainstorm on our way back.
We are still struggling to overcome the extreme time difference, but before retiring for the day we had a motorbike lesson from Mu Sell, one of our BWU hosts who lives in the BWU house with us. Don’t worry–we wore helmets!
Today we observed our first Reproductive Health Training! GlobeMed at Whitman funds two projects– one including 8 reproductive health trainings in the Burmese migrant community. We were so excited to see the structure of the program, and this particular training was sponsored by a local NGO called the Foundation for Education and Development (FED). There were 25 young women in attendance who worked in the local factories and farms. From breakfast to just before dinner, we covered everything from menstruation, to anatomy, contraception, and consequences of unexpected teen pregnancy.
We took copious notes during the training, and can’t wait to share the content with our GlobeMedders!
Abbey, Katie, and Colleen