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Welcome

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First Blog Post

Dear Friends, I look forward to sharing with you the stories and faces of the precious people whom we’ve have had the privilege of serving for the past twenty years in a very beautiful part of the world.

Lorilee Lippincott from SharingDots.org recently wrote an amazing piece on the woman who appears alongside me in the image above.  I invite you to read her story at Lorilee’s site. Click here.

What is Mekong Hope?

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A Brief History

My family and I have been living and working in Southeast Asia since 1997. During that time we’ve had some amazing adventures and met some amazing people.

Some of these people have needed a little extra care and support to receive medical treatment, especially surgeries. Friends, family and local community have all chipped in to help make these surgeries possible.

Friends Helping Friends

Mekong Hope Surgical Fund is not a registered organization or a formal fund. It is a personal fund for friends to help friends. This website is my little effort to share stories of good people doing good things.

From Near and Far

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From Near and Far

A growing network of friends who care

A four day journey from the Thai-Myanmar border to come for surgery on her hand, which was burnt in a fire when she was three. They are a Christian family who we’re referred to me by the Church in NE Burma. Our reach is getting stronger and further, making it even easier to connect patients into local support networks.

The power of social media

This little girl is one of seven kids in her family, who are part of the church on the Thai-Myanmar border. I’m getting lots of calls from people in Burma thanking me for helping her – power of social media! I’m just happy they’re not accusing me of selling children or organs or something else ridiculous like that for a change! Unfortunately, such suspicions show the sad reality of many people in our region.

Am Dai

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Am Dai Update

Part kitchen, part clininc

Little Am Dai came back for wound debriding, suture removal and check up at my kitchen table clinic! Initially Am Dai was crying at the thought of me touching her wound (her dad said other doctors ripped off the dressing despite her screams 😩). I told her we’d go super slow….and prayed – lots! In the end, she was smiling and laughing through most of it!! Thank You Jesus!! Not often you see a happy child whilst getting their burn skin graft debrided!!

Debriding background

I’m use to de-briding leprous wounds that are mostly numb, but I had in the forefront of my mind, “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” I would want someone being kind, careful, skilful if I had a wound this size!! Super thankful for my friend Nina keeping her entertained and happy too!!

Graft Update

So the graft looks good and the dark, dry bits of skin will continue to come off – another successful and happy patient! Combo effort thanks to Mekong Hope Surgical Fund, Hani Coffee Co and the expat doctors at the Kunming Boya Hospital.

Noma Surgery

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Beautiful Amy

Amy was born in a poor, rebel controlled area of NE Myanmar. When she was about two years old, she developed a small sore on her lip. Unfortunately, this developed into a flesh-eating bacterial disease resulting in a Noma. This gangrene-like bacteria destroyed much of her top lip, gum and most of her nose.

Noma is a disease of poverty with a 90 % fatality rate. Thankfully, Amy survived but she was left with a large portion of her face affected which resulted in her not being able to attend school. In 2015, I was introduced to Amy as a potential Mekong Hope Surgical Fund (MHSF) patient. She was referred to me because they thought she had an extensive cleft lip.

The type of surgery required for Amy is a rare, difficult and a long process. After three rejections by surgeons from Kunming to Shanghai, I was worried she may suicide. I invited Amy to live with our family as her mother had died and she was only 17 years old. Amy was illiterate and with very few job prospects – she hadn’t even been taught how to farm.

Amy’s ability to assimilate into our busy, noisy family was amazing. She eats western food and now cooks banana cake and tortillas! We have also employed her in our home and hired a tutor to teach her to read and write Chinese. She now can read, ride a bicycle, understand some English and is learning piano!

First and Second Noma Surguries

Last April, a surgical team from Canada was finally able to do step one of her needed Noma surgeries. Amy had a successful skin graft to close part of her mouth. She was well looked after by the surgical team and two Canadian ICU nurses. I was allowed in to look after her in the ICU as well, and I know it helped having a familiar face at such a scary, vulnerable time for her.

We now look forward to the second Noma surgery in November. One significant event that stands out to me in Amy’s journey was her crying with me asking why she kept getting rejected for surgery. I remember saying to her that I didn’t know, but perhaps God wanted her to know that He loved her, and we loved her, just the way she was. We told Amy that didn’t have to have surgery in order for us to think she was beautiful as we saw such beauty in her just the way she was. The team also assured her we would continue to do our utmost to help get her the best surgery possible!

All of Who we Are

Amy is another example of our desire to bring holistic, integrated care to every patient God brings our way. MHSF is not just about facilitating great surgeries, it is concerned with addressing the wounds in the hearts and souls of every person we serve, it is about providing sustainable interventions that increase the future opportunities – educationally, economically, socially for each patient.

We love having Amy in the family and seeing her grow into a beautiful young woman, inside and out. We appreciate your prayers for her as she approaches her second major surgery in November 2017.

Super San

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Speech Therapy

A natural extension of cleft lip and palate repair.

Mekong Hope Surgical Fund does more than just find solutions to surgical challenges. For young San, holistic care means repairing both his cleft lip (exterior) and palate (interior) and also following up with communication training.

San a few months after his cleft lip and palate surgery.

Cleft palates can cause minor speech impediments. So we (legally) brought San across the border with his mum to have some speech therapy lessons.

We designed simple reproducible activities that San’s mum can do with him at home.  We worked on blowing all the air out his mouth and not letting any escape out his nose!

During the session, we naturally discussed San’s future education. We love to advocate for children to get into school! To this end, we partner with other projects to provide economic growth opportunities for local family as well as school scholarships.

It is such a privilege to share life with these families and walk with them for holistic growth and transformation.

Remembering our Dai Friends

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Early Days in Xishuangbanna

So many of you will know these dear people with whom I have been friends for almost 18 years now.

Yi Ying and Ai Pat are both from Dai villages in Banna. What a privilege to walk with them all these years. It’s so special to to see Yi Ying’s children receive an education, excel in life and now become an influence for good in their society.

Ai Pat had a double amputation and prosthetics and can now walk around his village encouraging the community there.

Thanks to each of you who have made the long trips out there – crossing rivers, trekking muddy tracks and pushing vans – to help with wound care and to bring love, acceptance, healing and hope! There is lasting fruit from these years of serving – to God be the Glory!

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