Hello again from Thailand!
We had an early morning leave from our comfy hotel in Mae Sot headed back to Chiang Mai, about a 6-hour ride. On the way, we stopped at the Rim Moei Border Market for Burmese-Thai trading. We explored, found coffee, and admired the hunks of pig flesh, hairs included.
Then it was back on the bus for the rest of our ride. Once in Chiang Mai city, we went to the McKean Rehabilitation Center. It was a wonderful experience. We were shown a video about the history and founding of the organization by an American, Dr. McKean, as a refuge and treatment center for those afflicted by leprosy. Dr. McKean not only provided a safe haven to receive treatment and find shelter, but also taught its residents skills, regardless of disability due to their illness.
We got to watch some current residents make BEAUTIFUL and intricate cards, paintings, and carvings, even when their hands were tightly curled from contracture. It was amazing to see the amount of skill and ability, better than I could ever do with full use of my hands, but also to go against the stigma that someone who has leprosy, or any debilitating illness, no longer has "skills" and cannot contribute to society or earn an income from their work.
Over the years, the McKean center has expanded to care for not just leprosy patients, but also those disabled by other illness, land mines, accidents, or birth defects, and with the more modern change in family structure, the elderly. They provide treatment, rehabilitation, skills for self care, and crafts and other work. They also educate the community against stigma related to these ailments.
We were very fortunate to see the amount of work that this organization puts in to caring for its patients and residents, as well as the impact that it has made on the lives of many throughout the years, and to people from many countries who came seeking respite, care, and acceptance.