“My personal Covid-19 story starts in February 2020, just before the pandemic exploded. I could never have imagined at that time that I would be writing this from Bangkok so many months later. It is now day 2 of our family’s 15-day mandatory quarantine on returning to Thailand after 8 months away.
In early February, my parents were visiting from the US. They had traveled by air wearing masks, and all of us thought it was a little bit silly that they bothered to make such an effort for a virus that surely would be mostly forgotten in a few months. My father, Stanley Brown, died suddenly and unexpectedly in an accident. I am devastated. His death has brought my world, our world, to a crashing halt.
We left Thailand shortly after my father’s death, to go to America to be with my mother and to attend his memorial service. Of course, the service was cancelled- delayed- until July. We didn’t know when we left Thailand that we wouldn’t be able to get back in for 8 months. We didn’t know how hard grieving, being on the move, and displaced during covid-19 would be.
I have had lots of time for reflection in this season. Time to grieve, time to think, time to be frustrated and angry and grateful. But this blog post is not about me, or about my Dad- though he is worthy of many words. This post is about EMA, and why the work- the investment is truly worthwhile. Why, after reflection and time away, it is so important that we have returned.
My own personal struggle during these months has helped me to appreciate more fully, the critical work that is being done by Earth Mission Asia.
In our stress and the pain that we experienced in the long wait for an ambulance while my dad lay dying; in the language and cultural barriers we faced when trying to explain what happened; and in the impossibility to get the exact care for my Dad we thought we needed at the time. I relive these experiences and feelings every time I replay my Dad’s accident and death. I am compelled to remember the communities of Karen people that live with the reality of poor access to health care for both emergencies and common, preventable diseases. I think of people that witness or experience a disease or accident of a family member and have no option to call an ambulance. It is highly unlikely that they will be greeted by care given in their own language or with any cultural understanding.
This is why the work that EMA does has always struck me with such force, and how it continues to do so now on a more personal level. We work to train Physician Assistant Students from rural Karen state with the hope that their communities will not have to live with the fear that when something medically happens, whether large or small, they have to stand by and let death win. It is with the hope that culturally competent care given by educated PA’s in the language of the patient becomes not a distant dream but a present reality.
It is worth spending money, lonely quarantine hours, and time to get back to this work. Knowing that God has equipped his people, his church and a community of diverse individuals with the tools, education, skills and knowledge needed to pursue this work, is the picture of hope for me in this season.” – Lauren, EMA Year 1 Program Director
Lauren lives in Chiang Mai with her husband, daughter and son. She is a nurse working with EMA as Year 1 Director and Chiang Mai Site Manager to help provide quality healthcare to the Karen people in Myanmar and Thailand.