Read Part 3 HERE

If I walked up to you and asked you, “What does ‘dignity’ mean to you?” What would you say?  Much of Western culture would often equate it with the clothes you wear or the type of work you do.  If you’re caught naked or get your ass kicked, you have lost some dignity.  Many people in Middle-Eastern cultures would argue a harsher interpretation of the same.  Most Rangers I served with would tell me to shut up and get back to whatever it was that I was doing.

But I wasn’t in the West, I was in the jungles of Burma.  Four of us were sitting with our boots off on Saw Rai’s bamboo floor.  I spent the morning filming outpatient medics completing their rounds, checking eyes for splinters, compiling lists of symptoms, and determining whether or not their patients were sick enough to admit into the hospital.  I had stepped in on a class about appendicitis and took some footage of Saw Rai translating for the doctor.  The evening was spent building a small building for the generator and safely storing expensive medical  equipment, a project that would take several weeks.  It was a full day, and I was happy to relax for a few moments.

My home for a month

Saw Rai, the doctor and I sipped warm beer under the single light that hung in his main room.  The beer was stale and foamy, but it seemed flavorful and more refreshing than any beer in recent memory.  We were talking about dignity, and how if you were caught somewhere with your pants down (literally), your dignity was shot.  But Saw Rai wasn’t quite understanding.  He described dignity the way most Karen people would.