Meeting Dr. Cynthia Maung is something you just never forget. Many years ago, when Inter Pares staff member Rebecca Wolsak was volunteering in her clinic in a small Thai town on the border with Burma, her dad came to visit. He still talks about the moment he met Dr. Cynthia – how she held his hand in warm greeting, listened to his thoughts, and spoke in a voice that was gentle yet fiercely passionate about her work.
We would now like to introduce you to Dr. Cynthia, the third activist profiled in our Women Who Inspire campaign, and to some of the amazing things she is accomplishing. Dr. Cynthia, as she’s known, opened the Mae Tao Clinic when she first arrived in Thailand as a refugee, in 1988. The Burma Army was cracking down on the democracy movement, and thousands fled its scorched-earth campaign. Dr. Cynthia and fourteen other doctors walked through the jungle for days before they joined others in safety, only to discover that their fellow refugees were injured with gunshot wounds and landmine injuries. Many more suffered from preventable illnesses.
Nearly thirty years later, the Mae Tao Clinic sees over 75,000 patients and safely delivers over 2,500 babies each year – but Dr. Cynthia’s impact is felt far beyond the clinic’s walls. The clinic acts as a teaching hospital, training health workers and birth attendants so that they can offer care not only to undocumented refugees, but also to villagers back in Burma.
Dr. Cynthia has been internationally recognized for her leadership – but so much work still lies ahead. Will you join in these efforts?
Dr. Cynthia and her colleagues are working towards the long-term goal of integrating their grassroots community health systems into a national healthcare system for all. Mae Tao Clinic’s services are life-saving, but they can’t reach everyone. Dr. Cynthia knows that only by having a robust nation-wide healthcare system will all of Burma’s people be able to lead healthy lives.
Burma continues to take small steps towards real democracy. While Aung San Suu Kyi now leads decision-making processes in government, Burma’s military still holds much of the power. Armed conflict, racial and religious persecution, and sexual violence by the military remain prevalent. But despite the complex context and backsliding of progress, Dr. Cynthia is determinedly pressing forward.
Now is a key moment for Dr. Cynthia and her colleagues as they stand up for community-led healthcare in Burma. Will you join her? Your gift today to Inter Pares’ Women Who Inspire campaign will help ensure that Dr. Cynthia’s life-saving work continues to provide primary healthcare services in Burma and to help build a national healthcare system for all.