Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

During my time in Burma, I stayed in the home of Saw Rai, a quiet, genuinely nice guy.  He had a kind face and a witty, playful spirit.  He was happy to have me string up my hammock in his bamboo home, run interviews on his porch, and let me tag along as he treated his many patients.

Not exactly state of the art equipment

After years of medical training in the jungle, Saw Rai was as medically competent as a physician, when it came to jungle type care anyway.  At least, that’s what the American doctor I was with told me.  The Karen medic had extensive experience with malaria, tropical diseases, delivering babies in the middle of the jungle, and other things you would never see in the US.  What the doctor didn’t tell me about was Saw Rai’s combat experience as a foot soldier in the civil war, long before his medical pursuits.

We were walking from one village to the next, as we often did out in the jungle.  After some short conversation, we began swapping war stories.  He mostly liked to talk about the things that made him laugh, but soon enough we were exchanging the heavier sides of our experiences in our respective wars.