The rain poured as we pedaled more intensely across the pavement that weaved through rice fields and cement homes. I smiled as I felt the warm rain pour down creating a feeling of being free and alive. The local people would chuckle as we passed by. Most people stop and wait out the rain, but we decided to keep going. However, no adventure is not without its hiccups. One of the guy’s bike tire got a hole in it and went flat. So the entertainment began as ideas were thrown out about how to get everyone and the bike back to Doi Saket. The boys mapped out the route when we got back, and it seems we went for about a seventeen mile bike ride! Along the journey we also encountered a seemingly abandoned hotel. There definitely were people there, which is when we decided to quickly peddle outside of the area. We made it back with ten minutes to spare before dinner, sopping wet but with smiles.

On Wednesday we visited McKean Hospital. McKean originally started a Leprosy Colony in Thailand. The Prince granted him the land because there was a wild white elephant that stormed around the area and died. The people believed there were bad spirits, so no one wanted to live on the land. McKean was a Christian and a doctor who had a heart for helping the outcast. Doctors looked for cures for leprosy and eventually found a way to help people get better. The colony provided a safe place for outcasts of society. People who were diseased or disable were welcome to come. The compound has many cottages where people would stay to get better. The facility now houses elderly, disabled, people in rehabilitation. Their goal is to get people back into their villages and help change the stigma around people who have disabilities or are sick. They hope to assimilate people back home so they are accepted and taken care of. We got a tour of the facility and got to meet some of the people who are in care there. I was moved as I watched the physical therapist help the patient do strengthening exercises. I only know a fraction of their pain and frustration. I know what it feels like to be limited. My wrists have been a struggle since high school and going through physical therapy only helped calm the tendons down, it did not solve issue. They face every day with the struggle of not being able to control their muscles, or unable to walk, or do not have all of their fingers, or their fingers are curled. I watched a painter as he intently made tiny brush strokes. His fingers were deformed, but it did not keep him from making beautiful paintings. Often with limitations, it is frustrating and you start to feel what is the point in trying. The hospital helps give people skills so they can help give back. They make 70% of their profits themselves through their handy crafts. Which is incredibly amazing. It warmed my heart that people are empowering despite what limitations they were born with. We may have limitations to some extent, but there is always something that will shine brighter. And there is always something that you can do to help empower yourself. I appreciated the two people who guided us around and explained their goal is to give people dignity. The people in this area need more people who help empower them to dignity. So each person knows that their physical limitations are not limiting them as a person. I left the hospital with a sobered heart and peace of mind.


Bethany Jane

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