Monthly Archives: June 2014

Service Learning Project

Earlier this summer we helped lead the Service Learning Project hosted by Suan Dusit School of Nursing in collaboration with the Foundation of Thai Saints (the NGO that our church is registered under). The project included nursing students and professors from 5 countries; Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and our ACU interns from the States. We had about 40 people in our group in all. We spent most of our time surveying and giving medical aid to a Thai Hill Tribe village in the mountains of northern Thailand called Borseelium. Participants were also able to visit 3 very different Thai medical facilities.

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Click here to see more pictures from the Service Learning Project Orientation. 

We kicked things off in Bangkok with orientation where Gary and the ministers from Soi 4 lead the group in ice-breaker activities to help everyone get to know each other. We went on a quick tour of the SDU’s School of Nursing, and went over the schedule for the rest of the program. On our first day in Borseelium we met with the village chief. It is customary in Thailand for the highest ranking person to always open an event as a way of giving their blessing. After meeting with the chief we conducted a community health survey where we spent time visiting members of the community in their homes to learn more about their family’s medical history and to learn about their current medical condition. This information was then taken into account for when we would set up our medical clinic later that week.  

This family was so sweet they gave a us some lynche from their own orchard after visiting with them.

This family was so sweet they gave a us some lychee from their own orchard after visiting with them.

The nursing students were able to do a home health survey. where they looked over the homes of the villagers to see if their living conditions were suitable for healthy living. Some of the things they checked for were; the number of animals living in and near their home, the condition of food storage, access to clean drinking water and the amounts of stagnant water where mosquitoes can spawn. The people of the homes that our group visited were so sweet. Our group spent a lot of time with one little old lady. We often needed to double translate from the local hill tribe language, into Thai and then into English. I’m sure many things got lost in translation but it was touching to see how excited they were to have us in their homes. We were treated like family. Our little hilltribe lady just loved having us and was so thankful to Gary and another one of the SDU teachers that translated. She refused to let them leave without accepting some of her own handiwork for their love and help!

Wan and Shelley checking her blood pressure.

Wan and Shelley checking her blood pressure.

During these home surveys we learned about how difficult it is for people of the village to get proper medical help. The closest hospital is a bumpy hour and half drive down the mountain that is really difficult for the elderly to do. Many of the people we talked to had only made it to town once a year. The second family that we visited with explained about herbal remedies that they would use to to treat themselves that had been passed down from their ancestors who first migrated from China. Some would even get medical advice from the local shaman who would prescribe the worship of spirits and nature to help treat their ailments. It was interesting to learn about and to see how important it was to them to carry on the simplistic lifestyle of their ancestors.   

Learning about the local medicinal herbs that the villagers use.

Learning about the local medicinal herbs that the villagers use.

Click here to see more pictures from our time in Borseelium. 

While in Borseelium we set up two health screening clinics. The first one was at the school for all of the children of the village. Using their little cafeteria we saw groups a few grades at a time. We started by doing a couple of fun songs and dances. Then Professor Piar from SDU showed the kids a fun 10 step game to let the kids know what to expect during the examinations. We spent a few hours going through the wave of kids and helping them go through all 10 stations. Some of the stations were basic health assessment and if minor wounds were found they would be cleaned and dressed. Lice was treated as well.

All ready for their health check!

All ready for their health check!

The community health screening was on a much larger scale with more hands on medical services offered. Including testing blood sugar levels for diabetes, giving health advice to visitors and offering basic medications. The issue of needing to have everything translated (at times twice) proved to be quite challenging during the screening. But with good teamwork and patience  the group pulled through and we were able to swiftly aid over 200 visitors.

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The group also took part in a few activities to better understand the local culture and their customs. This included learning to cook a few Thai dishes, picking lychee fruit along the mountain side, and making the long hike up the mountain to visit the natural well that the village is named after. On our last night there the village put on a huge cultural dinner for the whole community showing their traditional food. And the kids performed dances from the 3 Hill Tribes represented at the school.

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The men in the village that we collaborated with in the planning and organization of the Service Learning Project, are all not only leaders in their community but leaders in the church in Borseelium as well. It was awesome working alongside them while we were there and seeing the positive impact that this church is making in the lives of their neighbors. This project took a lot of time and energy but we feel like our efforts we’re well worth it. 

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With the local church leaders. We really enjoyed working together with this awesome group!