2015 Barefoot Doctors Report:
The Barefoot Doctors School has two main purposes: one, to help those who are physically sick, and two, to bring spiritual healing. This is indeed a vibrant work.
In 2015, nineteen of the Barefoot Doctors from 2014 returned (7 women and 12 men) from Myanmar. Two students were not able to return. The students represent eight language groups from Myanmar (Lahu, Akha, Wa, Myu, Ngo-Chang, Karen, Pa Oo and Rawang). This group of students will return for one more year of training and graduate in 2016.
Some might wonder why we need medicine to preach the Gospel. Although Myanmar (Burma) recently opened up to Western eyes, it still suffers from civil unrest, political turmoil, decades-long war between rebels and the government, and offers few or no medical facilities in remote regions of the country. With such conditions, the Barefoot Doctor’s medical and spiritual training greatly helps people in desperate need. The Barefoot Doctors become the only source of medical assistance for entire communities.
When individuals receive physical care and healing, the whole community respects the Barefoot Doctors and listens to what they have to say. This opens tremendous doors for them to share the Gospel message.
In a war torn country like Myanmar, rebel armies control the outlying regions, and the government controls the central areas. Outsiders are forbidden to go into the rebel-controlled restricted areas. However, through the local leaders’ requests, Barefoot Doctors are allowed into restricted and sensitive areas and are able to treat the sick, which gives them the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. At the same time, they are able to encourage and spiritually revive the Christians who live in these difficult and remote areas. The ability to penetrate areas where others cannot go makes the Barefoot Doctors essential for spreading the Gospel throughout Myanmar.
This year, the students trained for seven weeks from mid-January to early March: one week of Bible, one week of Community Health Education (CHE) and five weeks of targeted medical training. The students have completed another 180 hours of course work again this year.
In their home regions, these students provide primary village health care, preventative medicine, community development, and Bible teaching. Based on the students’ log books from 2014, combined they treated more than 1500 patients. As they administer essential medical care they also preach and evangelize wherever they go. Most of them are serving the Lord in the areas of Myanmar least touched by the Gospel
Our volunteer teaching staff consists of sixteen professionals: twelve medical instructors (five from Samaritan’s Purse- Canada, and seven from the United States), two CHE facilitators and two pastors (one from the US and another from the UK). Under the leadership of Rick Astone MPT, Dean of the Barefoot Doctors Training Program, and Dr. Bjorn Nilson MD, Medical Director, the seven weeks of the Barefoot Doctors training went extremely well.
This year, Bjorn and Rick decided to use a book called, The Burmese Border Guidelines, as primary textbook to teach the students. This book specifically assists community health workers practicing in remote regions of Myanmar. The book is adapted from the international treatment guidelines and medical literature of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that focus on common diseases present in Myanmar’s remote regions. In addition to the textbook mentioned, teaching lessons and topics were planned based on medical problems the students encounter day-to-day in the field.
FLC’s Myanmar leaders, Abraham and Timothy translated for all the classes, and did an outstanding job. Sarep Pung continued teaching basic computer to the students in the evenings. Pungsar and his kitchen staff prepared 150 delicious and nutritious meals for the students and instructors. In fact, many students gained weight during the training.
Our Thailand-based staff was greatly encouraged by the Barefoot Doctors. Their eagerness to learn was exhibited in their concentration and attentiveness. Every day they helped wash dishes, clean the kitchen and dining areas, and took care of the grounds after study hours.
The Barefoot Doctors School this year was a great success, and included a double blessing and uniquely special event. FLC partnered with Project Cure to ship 21 C.U.R.E. Kits weighing over one thousand pounds from the US to Thailand. The C.U.R.E. Kits consisted of professional medical supplies and equipment valued at $42,000. In October 2014, the Boeing airplane manufacturer delivered a new 787 Dream Liner aircraft to Thai Airways International. Project Cure helped secure space on the new airplane to deliver the life-saving medical supplies to FLC without additional shipping costs. We celebrated the collaboration with a formal event and presentation of the medical supplies to the Barefoot Doctors.
Frontier Labourers for Christ expresses special appreciation and thanks to the instructors, churches and varying individuals for their time, financial and prayer support, and donations of medical equipment and gifts for the students. Please continue to pray with us for each of the Barefoot Doctors as they treat the villagers with love and healing in Jesus’ name.