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Old 12-08-2010, 10:04 PM
Siam Sam is offline
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Burma Children Medical Fund


That should probably be "Children's," but that's the way they have it. Website is here. Based on the Thai side of the Burmese border in Mae Sot district of Tak province in our Lower North. This is the area where a lot of fighting has broken out recently between ethnic militias and the Burmese army. The organization is part of the well-known Mae Tao Clinic run by Dr. Cynthia Maung. The wife and I are peripherally involved with the BCMF and can vouch for its legitimacy.

Donation information is here. What's good is that in addition to their local bank-account info that you can also donate straight into, there are links to their offices in the US, Australia and the UK, and if you donate through one of those, it's tax deductible in that country. (The UK link seems not to be ready yet. Dunno what's up with that.)

There was a story in the Bangkok Post in October about one of the patients, an 18-year-old girl named Ma Wint. You can read that here. Her case was exceptional because she needed treatment for bleeding on the brain that could only be obtained here in Bangkok. I am acquainted with the Aussie writer of that story, who is the husband of BCMF founder and director Kanchana Thornton. A friend of mine last month ran in a marathon in Bangkok with the goal of raising money for her treatment cost of 300,000 baht (US$10,000). (Like me, he's in his 50s and just a couple of years behind me in age! ) I can tell you the money was raised, thanks mainly to foreign donations, for her radiation treatment, which was performed in Bangkok's Ramathibodi Hospital a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have gone well, and Ma Wint has returned to Mae Sot already and is maybe even back in Burma now. So her case is closed, but there are others.

Some posters on this Board have mentioned in the past that they or groups they belong to have donated to Burma in the wake of Cyclone Nargis or on other occasions. Unfortunately, I have to say that much of such aid never reaches the intended recipients. (I personally believe that almost none of it does.) Reports are rampant that it simply gets commandeered and sold in the markets, with the proceeds going straight into the junta's greedy pockets. If you are interested in helping the Burmese, the BCMF is a very legitimate outfit that does some good.
  #2  
Old 12-09-2010, 01:34 AM
not_alice is offline
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Thanks for this post Siam Sam.

I am peripherally related with a similar group in the US, so I will vouch that the direness of the situation can not be overstated.

The group I know of actually heads into Burma each year with basic medical supplies and training for the villagers, mostly Karen. My understanding is that this is done sans passports, it is extremely dangerous.

I don't know if it is appropriate to point to this other group given the new rules of this new forum, I can tell people by PM I guess, but I want to 1) second the urgent need and superb value of groups such as the one Siam Sam has posted and 2) encourage people to learn about others, they generally fly low under the radar because the work is primitive, and dangerous, and pursued without government sanction to provide the most basic medical care in Burma.

While pictures would be persuasive, and they do exist, I have seen them myself, and I have debriefed people who have gone many times, it is not possible to post them on the web as it would put individuals and even whole tribes and villages at risk. But this work DOES happen, and YOUR help IS needed!

Good on Siam Sam for raising the issue!
  #3  
Old 12-09-2010, 08:50 AM
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What bothers me about something like this going over there is twofold, one are we sure we don't need to help any people here in our country, where for the same money much more could be done because you do not have to pay transportation (and it is easier to find volunteers too) and the second that in such places as Burma you may have to pay bribes and such to bad guys just to exist, plus theft at borders happens a lot too. So donated money may end up right in some mobsters pot since control is largely by such people there.

If we do need to leave USA, what about Mexico? So much easier to reach and there is much the same kind of problems to help, but at lower costs and you can come and go so much easier. Also most of the people you will be helping are Christian, or at least in a Christian atmosphere, and not likely to ever be terrorists and bad guys like they can be in places like Indonesia say.

Burma being so far away and hard to get to, why do we forget those so much closer we could help more with the extra money it costs to go to Burma? Helping Mexico does help the USA too much more so than helping Burma would. Let's fix stuff near us before going so far off.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Leon497 View Post
What bothers me about something like this going over there is twofold, one are we sure we don't need to help any people here in our country, where for the same money much more could be done because you do not have to pay transportation (and it is easier to find volunteers too) and the second that in such places as Burma you may have to pay bribes and such to bad guys just to exist, plus theft at borders happens a lot too. So donated money may end up right in some mobsters pot since control is largely by such people there.

If we do need to leave USA, what about Mexico? So much easier to reach and there is much the same kind of problems to help, but at lower costs and you can come and go so much easier. Also most of the people you will be helping are Christian, or at least in a Christian atmosphere, and not likely to ever be terrorists and bad guys like they can be in places like Indonesia say.

Burma being so far away and hard to get to, why do we forget those so much closer we could help more with the extra money it costs to go to Burma? Helping Mexico does help the USA too much more so than helping Burma would. Let's fix stuff near us before going so far off.
What are you smoking exactly? It doesn't require bribes to get to Burma, in fact people avoid the junta at all costs. You simply walk across the border from Thailand at an opportune time with stuff in a backpack. Very primitive medical supplies like pills and bandages, and knowledge of basic first aid, medicine and public health that you are willing to share with people living under the most oppressive regime on earth.

I'd hardly say that a trip once a year to Bangkok and then to the border of Burma, coupled with the shipping of enough medical supplies to a rendezvous point in Thailand, enough that people on the trip can literally carry on their back is "expensive" or a waste of money.

Not sure why you ar bigoted against non- Christians, or what you think Indonesia has to do with operations that work between Thailand and Burma, can you explain please?
  #5  
Old 12-09-2010, 03:17 PM
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The point is that there are people in need much nearer and the same money will be able to help more people, plus the ones nearer to us are not as likely to later be involved in anti-USA activities either. There is also the real possibility of workers catching diseases there and if so, or just having any accident, there is not the support even Mexico would have, plus the fact you can get someone out of Mexico to a hospital here a lot easier. It boils down to you can help more people with the same money and they are more likely to stay our friends as well, a win-win. It would be easier to recruit people to help too if they only had to go a few hundred miles and their phones would work and such, should there be a problem. It is just a lot better to help ten people than 3 or 4 with same donation.
  #6  
Old 12-09-2010, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Leon497 View Post
The point is that there are people in need much nearer and the same money will be able to help more people, plus the ones nearer to us are not as likely to later be involved in anti-USA activities either. There is also the real possibility of workers catching diseases there and if so, or just having any accident, there is not the support even Mexico would have, plus the fact you can get someone out of Mexico to a hospital here a lot easier. It boils down to you can help more people with the same money and they are more likely to stay our friends as well, a win-win. It would be easier to recruit people to help too if they only had to go a few hundred miles and their phones would work and such, should there be a problem. It is just a lot better to help ten people than 3 or 4 with same donation.
This is interesting, but more suited for Great Debates, dontcha think?
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:26 PM
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Leon, you are being pitted for you conduct in this thread over here.
  #8  
Old 12-09-2010, 03:46 PM
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Ah, yes, the start of a new forum, where each moderating decision sets a precedent!

Leon, the Marketplace forum is here for people to buy and sell, and Ed has already stated that pleas for charitable causes are fine--assuming that the thread meets the other requirement of the forum. But just as you wouldn't want someone jumping into a thread where you are selling a widget and saying, "widgets suck," it isn't appropriate to criticize charities here.

Since this wasn't spelled out in the forum launch, I will issue no mod note, but henceforth take it to GD or the Pit.
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  #9  
Old 12-09-2010, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Leon497 View Post
The point is that there are people in need much nearer and the same money will be able to help more people,
Really? You are suggesting that basic medical care for a village of people who have none is cheaper in the US than in Burma, even including baisc travel?

What planet are you on? The salary of an intern, let alone any supplies, equipment and facilities would and does pay for the care of 5-10000 people.

Quote:
plus the ones nearer to us are not as likely to later be involved in anti-USA activities either.
yeah the Karen tribe is known for their aching to hate the US if only they had the chance

And it is well known that the further from the US you are, the more you are likely be involved in anti-US activities later. We should jsut do away with all people who are half way around the world form the US, because they are just going to do away with us first if we let them!

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There is also the real possibility of workers catching diseases there and if so,
Uh no. Just like any travellers, they get innoculated as needed. And maybe you missed the point where I said they are trained in training people to handle the medical needs of people in that area, and carrying supplies and medicine to do just that. You think the techniques or medicine doesn't work on Americans?

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or just having any accident, there is not the support even Mexico would have,
That's life. I can go hiking in the Sierra Mountains above me and be out of range of any medical facilities should something happen too. That's liberty son!

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plus the fact you can get someone out of Mexico to a hospital here a lot easier.
Yeah, the US population is all about pulling people in need out of Mexico to the US so they can have a better life! Everyone is soooo into that lately

But you may have noticed, the purpose of these organizations is to bring medical care to people in desperate need? You object to that on principle it seems?

Quote:
It boils down to you can help more people with the same money and they are more likely to stay our friends as well, a win-win.
Neither of which is true,or relevant. How people spend their time and money is their own business. There are plenty of good organizations helping Mexicans with all kinds of things, I am sure. to each his own.

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It would be easier to recruit people to help too if they only had to go a few hundred miles and their phones would work and such, should there be a problem.
Recruiting people is not a problem. Perhaps you are not aware, but you can't simply fly into Burma and do this task. You need to sneak in surreptitiously, there are no visas, any contact with the government is a death sentence. You know those folks who wander a step into North Korea or Iran and got caught? Those were likely accidental crossing, these are deliberate and meant to assist the underground. This is not a holiday tour. Armies of people are not needed to go, but money and supplies in more volume can do more good for people in desperate need.

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It is just a lot better to help ten people than 3 or 4 with same donation.
That';s not necessarily true, but if your idea of "better" is so, then so be it. Then you should very much look into how much good and how many people are helped for your dollar in Burma compared to anywhere else on Earth. You will be surprised how it stacks up. The Burmese, especially the non-ruling class, are among the poorest people on earth. A little goes a long way.
  #10  
Old 12-09-2010, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
Ah, yes, the start of a new forum, where each moderating decision sets a precedent!
Didn't see this before my post to Leon, I will edit it and drop it or move ti to the pit if I want to.

Anyway, on the topic of moderating a new thread, I don't want to step on Siam Sam, but I would raise the issue of whether it is appropriate to mention similar orgs by name in such a thread? I am not a member so I can't make my own thread, and the org I know is doing related, but different, in-country work so might meet the needs of those who might want to donate to something like that in Burma.

Sort of:

SS: I am selling widget A
N_A: there are complementary services available to, call them Widget B

much as I'd like to mention this group, out of courtesy to the board absent rules, I am holding off pending a ruling...
  #11  
Old 12-09-2010, 04:20 PM
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I think the original announcement said not to hijack a thread with your stuff, start your own.

Rules thread.
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2. Posts must be relevant to the OP. Don't promote your product or service in a thread started by someone else.

Last edited by running coach; 12-09-2010 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:31 PM
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I think the original announcement said not to hijack a thread with your stuff, start your own.

Rules thread.
Yes, but I can't start my own as I am not a member, and neither the service that Siam Sam listed, nor the one I am speaking of belong to us in any sense of the word, they are merely orgs we think are worthy of your consideration, and they are working towards the same goal.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:23 PM
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Alice, I told Leon to take the debates to GD or the Pit, and that goes for you, too.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:26 PM
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Alice, I told Leon to take the debates to GD or the Pit, and that goes for you, too.
Totally agree, hence post #10 where I noted I wrote that post before I saw your request. I guess you wrote this one before you saw that one

Missed the edit window on the post in question, so if you want to delete it, or change it to "nm", be my guest.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:57 PM
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Sam, there's an "under construction" symbol on the UK donations page. Are you close enough to the organisation to ask if/when that's going to be sorted? Thanks!
  #16  
Old 12-09-2010, 08:57 PM
Siam Sam is offline
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Sam, there's an "under construction" symbol on the UK donations page. Are you close enough to the organisation to ask if/when that's going to be sorted? Thanks!
I'll see what I can find out.

Also, just so everyone is clear after some of the posts above, this organization, the Burma Children Medical Fund, is in Thailand, not Burma. It helps Burmese refugees or other Burmese who come across the border for assistance (it's not like, say, the North Korean border; Burmese come over to Thailand a lot, which can be another problem in that the Thais often exploit them for cheap manual labor). No bribes are paid to anyone.

I also don't mean to take away from the urgency of charities closer to your home. Just offering another option.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Sam, there's an "under construction" symbol on the UK donations page. Are you close enough to the organisation to ask if/when that's going to be sorted? Thanks!
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I'll see what I can find out.
Well, that was fast. I contacted them and received an immediate reply from Katie Camarena, who is with the fund. She says:

"I will make sure the information is up there within the coming days (by the end of this weekend though I will try for today).

"I will contact you again as soon as it is up. Please ask anyone who donates through our partner organisation in the UK to send us an email confirming they have donated so that we can track the donation."


So keep checking, and I'll post when I hear from her again too. E-mail addresses are in the Contact Us link in the dropdown box under About Us.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:27 PM
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One more thing. I don't do Facebook or Twitter and so was unaware until just this moment that the BCMF is on both. On Facebook as Burma Children Medical Fund and on Twitter as BurmaChildren.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:53 AM
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Well, that was fast. I contacted them and received an immediate reply from Katie Camarena, who is with the fund. She says:

"I will make sure the information is up there within the coming days (by the end of this weekend though I will try for today).
Fantastic news. I'll keep checking back.

One of the big problems we had after the cyclone was how to get funds to Thailand. We had an account in the US with one of our key people on the ground in Thailand with an ATM card - simple as that. We set up a PayPal account that raised several thousand, but PayPal shut it down after a few days and refunded all the donors because the recipient bank account wasn't tax registered as a charity in the US, and nobody stateside knew how to set one up quick enough. It was heartbreaking. I tried to find a charity in the UK that would help out, but didn't have enough contacts. In the end we were able to funnel money into a Christian missionary organisation based in northern Thailand, which then transferred it to our people.

And thanks for clarifying that your organisation doesn't operate in-country. I had overlooked that.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:05 PM
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jjimm, the UK link is up and running now. You can see it here. Katie was true to her word.

Their UK partner is that notorious terrorist organization, the Karen Refugee Camps Women’s Development Group. If we cross our fingers and hope real hard, they might not use the money to shoot American soldiers.

Be sure to e-mail them after you make a donation. I guess that's so they can be sure to keep it straight specifically how much of the money is earmarked for them.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:13 PM
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Their UK partner is that notorious terrorist organization, the Karen Refugee Camps Women’s Development Group. If we cross our fingers and hope real hard, they might not use the money to shoot American soldiers.
Ah yes, that wretched hive of scum and villainy.

I'm trying to see if they have a Norwegian partner or equivalent, but if not I'll drop them my Christmas donation to the Thailand account directly. As good a cause as I've seen in a long time. Thanks for bringing it into the spotlight, Siam Sam!
  #22  
Old 12-26-2010, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
There was a story in the Bangkok Post in October about one of the patients, an 18-year-old girl named Ma Wint. You can read that here. Her case was exceptional because she needed treatment for bleeding on the brain that could only be obtained here in Bangkok. I am acquainted with the Aussie writer of that story, who is the husband of BCMF founder and director Kanchana Thornton. A friend of mine last month ran in a marathon in Bangkok with the goal of raising money for her treatment cost of 300,000 baht (US$10,000). (Like me, he's in his 50s and just a couple of years behind me in age! ) I can tell you the money was raised, thanks mainly to foreign donations, for her radiation treatment, which was performed in Bangkok's Ramathibodi Hospital a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have gone well, and Ma Wint has returned to Mae Sot already and is maybe even back in Burma now. So her case is closed, but there are others.
I hope it's okay to bring this up again, but there was a nice follow-up to Ma Wint's case in Sunday's Bangkok Post, and I thought it would be good to link to that. You can read that here. The "Bangkok-based journalist" mentioned who ran 10K is my friend I mentioned in the post above, an Aussie.
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