Update #1: Thai/Burma Border

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Mike Lee

Mike Lee, a native of Chicago, graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Creative Writing. At LMU, Mike developed international and domestic volunteer trips and served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Student Veterans Organization. Mike’s professional background is in advertising and marketing, and has experience in executing large print and digital campaigns for non-profit and tourism clients. He lives in Los Angeles where he thinks a lot about dogs, bourbon, and the Chicago Bears.

In October of 2012 Team Rubicon sent a team of doctors, medics and engineers to the border of Thailand and Burma on its third annual humanitarian mission to aid ethnic Karen refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).  This year’s team included:  Jason Jarvis, former Army Special Forces medic and Thai linguist;  emergency physician Jennifer Eisner, on leave from her remote Alaskan clinical practice;  nurse practitioner midwife Laura MacPherson from Seattle;  journalist Ross Fenter, a former Army tanker from the 3rd Infantry Division, now executive producer at Lustre Communications;  water pump expert John Long, a former Navy SEAL from upstate New York; the Region One Director of Field Operations, a former Army infantryman, construction and communications specialist;  and Rob Swain a local fixer and philanthropist who specializes in aid missions for the Karen people throughout the region.

From left to right:  Ross Fenter, Jason Jarvis, Rob Swain, Region One Director of Field Ops, Jennifer Eisner, John Long & Laura MacPherson
From left to right: Ross Fenter, Jason Jarvis, Rob Swain, Region One Director of Field Ops, Jennifer Eisner, John Long & Laura MacPherson

After 2 days of travel from Los Angeles through Taiwan and Bangkok, the team finally arrived in Mae Sot, Thailand along the Thai / Burma border.  Mae Sot is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees.  The town is part of the larger Tak Province and is the main land gateway between Thailand and Burma.  The first objective in Mae Sot was the negotiation and purchase of additional medications, adding to the several hundred pounds of medications and medical supplies that the team carried with them from the home base in Los Angeles.

Approximately 70 Burmese refugee families survive on materials that they find and recycle in the Mae Sot dump.
Approximately 70 Burmese refugee families survive on materials that they find and recycle in the Mae Sot dump.

During our layover in Mae Sot we ran into a local philanthropist named Fred Stockwell, a well known local who has taken it upon himself to deliver aid to a local group of Burmese refugees living and surviving in the local dump on the outskirts of town.  Fred requested our help for a day to treat a number of patients that he lacked either the supplies or medical capabilities on his own.  Dr. Eisner and our medic (and team leader) Jason Jarvis worked throughout the day with the help of mid-wife Laura MacPherson on a number of refugees, adult and children, suffering from ailments ranging from open wounds to those suffering from dengue fever and stroke.

Dr. Eisner treats a young girl who complained of stomach pains.
Dr. Eisner treats a young girl who complained of stomach pains.
Medic Jason Jarvis tends to one of the many open wounds that we saw that day.
Medic Jason Jarvis tends to one of the many open wounds that we saw that day.

Our team leader Jason spent a great deal of time not only treating wounds, but training our host Fred on a number of minor procedures that who could do on his own.  Our team would check in on  the same group of refugees days later as we left the jungle and began the long trip home.

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