Here are a press release and an Al Jazeera interview with ex-political prisoners from Burma talking about their situation regarding the elections in Burma on November 7.
Al Jazeera Interview:
MTC’s 2009 Annual Report is now available!
Visit maetaoclinic.org for the annual report and more information about MTC
..definitely not the Ilala. This steamer, which was built in the 1940s and runs a single route on Lake Malawi has changed little since it first hit the water I think. In fact, we are the ones who have changed. We seem to no longer have tolerance for 21 hour ship rides with only a small place to sit and the constant smell of dried fish. What has happened to us over the past 10 years? Our time on Likoma Island itself was amazing though! We stayed at Mango Drift where Nori and I had stayed with peace corps friends 9 years ago, and one evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Kaya Mawa to celebrate Nori’s graduation from medical school. We enjoyed having some down time after our days of moving around Malaw to visit friends and colleagues. After some more days in Nkhotakota visiting with nori’s friends, we arrived back in Lilongwe today.
We made it to the top! At 9am last Thursday, Nori and I were the highest people in Malawi! We had an amazing 5 day trip around Mulanje and decided to summit the highest peak about half way through the trip. Even though at several points in the trek I had the thought, “man this is so dangerous,” I am very happy that we continued to jump the large boulders, shimmy up the smooth rock surfaces, and brave the tight tunnels we had to pass through in order to reach the very windy top of Mt. Mulanje. After this trip we visited my old colleagues from my peace corps days and then make a quick visit to Phalula, my village. It does now have electricity, but Phalula has not really changed much in the past 10 years. It was great to walk around and see my old house, the CDSS and the market where I spent so much time. We also visited Zomba and Balaka and spent a few days with our friend Jen in Blantyre. After a couple days in LLW, today we will head to Nkhotakota to visit Nori’s friends. Then we head on to Likoma for some relaxing beach time.
I arrived safely in Malawi. I have already gone to shopright, Malawi’s 7-11, and Ali Baba’s for peri-peri chicken pizza. Not sure what to do now.
The vendors still surround the post office and the minibuses still nearly drive over you as we all bully for our space on the road. it is great to be back. Down to Blantyre tomorrow (passing by my village on the way) and perhaps Mulanje a few days later. I’m home.
A perk of one of the cheapest airlines in Thailand is that its departure lounges are open to all passengers - not only the passengers whose sections we economy class folks have to walk through in order to get to our cramped sections. Bangkok Airways welcomes everyone. The tired, the messy, the financially disadvantaged. They open their doors to us. And I thank you. I’m enjoying the comfy couches, free internet, small sandwhiches and Bangkok post while I wait for my flight to Bangkok. Farewell Chiang Mai; your cafes, veggie restaurants, airconditioned movie theaters and jazz club have treated me well and provided much needed respite over the months. I hope to walk along your small steets again soon.
I have said goodbye to Mae Sot and my dear friends and colleagues. I decided to come to Chiang Mai to avoid the growing chaos of Bangkok city, so this evening I fly to Bangkok and directly on to Lilongwe. With a very heavy heart and flowing tears, I said goodbye to the community that has cared for me over the past 1.5 years. I went to Mae Sot to share my knowledge of stress, trauma and healing, and in the end received my own training from the Burmese community about resiliency, coping, community, hope, and survival. I have been touched so deeply by the determination of individuals and groups to continue to survive and thrive and look forward to better days. I thank the communities and organizations along the Thai-Burma border for the amazing opportunity to learn from them and to support them in their efforts to heal suffering and prevent future suffering.
I have noticed an incredible difference between my experience of commuting to work here and commuting to work in NY. Here I smile. Everytime. Every day. At least one ear-to-ear grin every ride to work and home from work - and this over a 6 day work week compared to my 4 day work week in Brooklyn where a smile on the crowded train was a rare and special event. Not in Mae Sot though. Seriously, every day. What evokes it? A small baby in a bicylce basket, a 100 pound golden retreiver wedged between the motorcycle driver’s legs with its paws on the steering panel, an elephant blocking the road, a Thai man in short shorts and a large wig, a truck full of school kids all practicing their English with me as I ride behind, a child sitting backwards on the bike that his dad is peddling, a family of 5 on one motorcycle, a large dalmation with a collar that matches the color of his owner’s coffee shop, a man carrying a goat over his shoulder, Karen sisters with matching thanaka patterns, and on and on. So, am I different here - more observant, less stressed, more aware of my environment, less rushed, more able to appreciate these gems? Will I experience these same spontaneous smiles on my subway commute in NY when I get back? I hope so.