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Helping Mae Sot’s Burmese refugees

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There are currently five camps for refugees from Burma along the border to the north and south of Mae Sot, and Mae Sot itself is the headquarters for many related international aid projects; most of these organizations welcome donations and some are happy to receive visitors and even short-term volunteers; ask at Ban Thai guesthouse, Borderline shop and at Krua Canadian and Bai Fern restaurants. One of the most famous organizations in Mae Sot is the Mae Tao clinic, which provides free medical care for around 150,000 Burmese migrants and refugees a year, focusing on those who fall outside the remit of the camps and cannot use the Thai health system. The clinic was founded in 1989 by a Karen refugee, Dr Cynthia, who has won several prestigious international awards for her work; her clinic also trains and equips “backpack teams” of mobile medics who spend months travelling through the Burmese jungle providing healthcare to internally displaced peoples. To help the clinic by giving blood or financial aid, visit the office inside the clinic compound on Thanon Indharakiri. The clinic also runs a primary and secondary school and welcomes volunteer health-workers and teachers who can commit for several months.

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