You are on page 1of 105


Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

Year 4, 2010

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

April 2010

Cover Photo: "Somewhere A Hill Blossoms in Green & Gold"

About the cover: Spring is a time when hope is born anew. Just as the world turns
from grey to green and gold, so also do our hearts hope for better things for the
country, with the dawning of every New Year

Photo by Oliver Tan [a] Maung Nyein Chan, elder son of Drs Thein Aung/Brian Tan-77 batch & Khin Lay
Myint/Christine Tan-84 batch

Message from the Team 1

With an icon: Prof. Hnin Yee 3 Thein Tun Ohn and Hla Yee Yee
With a senior Alumnus: Dr. Tin Hla 7 Christine Tan

The AMIM e-magazine A Better Man than Me 10 Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint
Stories retold: A Page from History 12 Huat Za Mang
A tale of Two Cities: Bogale and Carmathen 19 Soe Aung Htay
The Team
Health Update Briefs
Dr Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint (Australia) E-Ziwaka
Consulting Editor
A few Healthcare related updates 26
from the past month
Dr Hla Yee Yee (Malaysia)
Editor Medical Education and other Issues
Stereotyped gender roles in HIV: a viewpoint 29 Soe Naung
Dr Winston Chu (USA)
Learning pathology: Making it Easy 32 Than Than Htwe

Dr Nyunt Wai (Malaysia) Responses to Nargis

Editor Update of the AMIM and AMIMA projects 33
Dr Khin Maung Gyi (Brunei)
Editor Short Stories
The Guardian 34 Thet Tun (Say-Thatepan)
Dr Thein Tun Ohn (UK) Certain stories need to be told: Contrast 36 Christine Tan
Managing Director A little Daughter 38 Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint
Dr Tun Aung Shwe (Australia)
Twilight to Dawn 40 Win Htin
Formatting Editor A year in the Life of Daw Htwe 43 TT Ohn
Maung Aung Thar 47 Hla Yee Yee
Dr Maung Maung Kyi (UK) A X-mas story 50 Lavender
Support Editor An Embezzlement 52 Khin Maung Gyi
Dr Christine Tan (Australia)
General Support Poems
Now that Im a Grandmother 54 Zeyarthu
Dr Than Naing Oo (USA) Reflection of a Cancer Survivor 55 Wynn Aung
General Support I Cannot Change the World! 56 Zeyarthu
Dr Moh Moh (USA) Deja Vu, Dad and Daffodils 57 Danubyu-thar
General Support A Poetic Blog from AMIM: Mother Moon 58 Wynn Aung

Humour 59
Oh tell me why? 61 Jennifer Chu

How to
How to live a successful life and play golf 63 Richard Huang

Down Memory Lane

Remembering our reunion 66 Tint Way
Coming Home 70 Khin Aye Aye
An Asian Travelogue: 2009 72 Danubyu-thar

Letter from
Letter from Europe 77 Sanshar (Khitta Spain)

83 /

84 ()

86 ()


Message from the team

Happy Myanmar New Year 1372!

With Thingyan and Padauk, comes the AMIM magazine.

April is auspicious in that it is a month in which AMIM Yahoo group was born.

The magazine in your hands...oops, sorry on the screen, after two consecutive years of hard-
copy publication, has to turn electronic again. The reason is to give a well-deserved break to
both the production team, particularly the voluntary distributors cum- donation-solicitors, and
of course the donors. Oh, yes. We sell those magazines to raise funds. What did we do with the
We have donated funds raised by the AMIM
magazine (from the UK) to the North Okkalapa
General Hospital (NOGH), Paediatrics Unit, and
Institute of Medicine 2 in 2009. This is for an
oxygen concentrator for use at the childrens
ward. The picture shows the machine in use at
the hospital. The life of the suffering child
hangs on the tubing emerging from the
Wrought by Nargis, destroying homes, schools
and villages made the magazine team and
AMIM leaders realise that we would need to
help in whatever way we can with the
childrens education. HEAL took on a
different perspective i.e. Health & Education
Aid through Love. Thus it was decided that
75% of the funds should be channelled towards rebuilding a school, leaving 25% for
contingencies and other community health- related efforts.
As a result, the Don Yann State Primary School" in the Kyone Darr Ywa Ma Village group bears
the inscription, in Burmese,

This School is built and contributed by AMIM Magazine & HEAL project, under
the close supervision of 79 IM-1 Old Students Group",.

We greatly appreciate the generosity of our alumni, both in and outside of the country in
helping us realise this noble endeavour. .
AMIM 2009 was published with funds from AMIMA and invited readers to donate to AMIMA.
Please see the updates for the funds raised and mode of utilisation in this magazine. Included in
this update are the kind deeds organised by the global team, made possible by the donations
from AMIMA.

1 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


The purpose
The AMIM magazine was published electronically in 2007 to celebrate the first anniversary of
the founding of AMIM, to showcase the literary talents of AMIMers and to serve as a forum for
members to air their views (please see the files section in AMIM-Annals of AMIM part 1:
In 2008, another objective was identified; to raise funds to help with health related efforts in
the country. Towards this end, the theme Project HEAL [Healthcare Enhancement Aid
through Love] was adopted. The AMIM magazine- being an offshoot of AMIM- has embraced the
3P policy of AMIM: No Profanity, No Pornography, and No Proselytization on the Group Site.

Our conviction
Many AMIMers enjoyed the education that the country has provided, virtually free of charge,
and are benefiting from the fruits of that (quality) education, attested to by their successful
careers. It is only right and fitting that we pay back in whatever small way we can, to ensure that
the next generation gets a proper education. George Peabody defined Education as a debt due
from present to future generations. To pay back to the country with love: this is what the
AMIM Magazine is about.
So we would like to repeat our appreciation to all those who made this possible.

Best wishes,
The AMIM Team
(Note - all pictures are attributed to the appropriate authors and the rest are from google and

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 2


An interview with an icon:

Prof. Daw Hnin Yee

Interviewed by
Thein Tun Ohn (Class of 79) and
Hla Yee Yee (Class of 68)

T his is an interview with Sayamagyi Dr Daw Hnin Yee,

who was the Professor of Medicine, Institute of
Medicine 1. She was, and still is a role model for many
young doctors from the classes of sixties, seventies to the
eighties. We still remember her with her white coat,
doing the rounds, never raising her voice to her trainees,
showing her gentle nature and kindness to the patients.
Wards 19 & 20 were the wards where she worked for
over twenty years. We met up with Sayamagyi last year
near London, and was pleasantly surprised to know that
she still remembers her old students. Her husband was
Dr PR Mohan, and after her husband passed away, she
came to live with her daughter. Currently, she resides in
the USA with her daughter. We started with a question
that we had always wanted to ask her

TTO: Was medicine always your first choice of profession? Is that the dream that you had ever
since you were a child or something push you towards this profession?
DHY: My father was a doctor and my mother
a nurse, so I had been exposed to matters
relating to health and disease in my early
years. However, it was not until I was told not
to take up the medical profession that I
decided I wanted to become a doctor. My
father was concerned that I might not be able
to withstand the seven years of strenuous
study and the stressful vocation. Looking
back, I have no regrets for rebelling against
my fathers wishes and I know that he has
forgiven me.

HYY: So we need to thank your father for

giving us our role model! Do you still remember
your first-ever patient, the high points of your
medical career and the low points if you have

3 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


DHY: I do not remember my first patient, but one case that I can vividly recall occurred during
my internship. I was asked by my friend to help as she could not get the vein for an IV injection. I
readily consented and without asking what the medication was, I gave the injection. The patient
developed pulmonary oedema. There was no Lasix at that time, so we gave Mersalyl IM. The
patient died later. The patients relatives came to thank me and even brought me a gift, which
made me feel more guilty. It was an emotionally traumatic experience. I even considered
quitting the profession, but the support of my family helped me assuage the distress. I still have

TTO: When we were medical

students did you know that if you
raised an eyebrow, wed wish the
earth would open up and swallow
DHY: Throughout my
undergraduate and post-graduate
years, I had always been fortunate
in having kind and caring teachers
like Colonel Min Sein, Major Shwe
Zan, Professor U E, Dr. PR
Mohan, among many others. I
tried to emulate my mentors, so I
was astounded when a doctor
told me that as a student she was
mortally scared of me. I never
realized that I was such an ogress. I do apologize to anyone I may have offended

HYY: You were never an ogress to us. Rather more like an angel. Anyway, who are the students you
DHY: I am better at remembering faces than names. The ones that stand out are the bright
ones, the naughty ones and the attractive ones. The bright ones gave me an incentive to try and
keep up with them, the naughty ones reminded me of my own mischievous children, and the
attractive ones because they distracted the others when I was on my teaching rounds.

TTO: We had wonderful memories as you can see in this photo when we came to see you during
your UK visit, together with your daughter Dr May Htwe Han. May we ask what are your best
memories of Wards 19 & 20?
DHY: The memories I have of Wards 19 & 20, where I worked for over twenty years, are of the
relationships and bonds forged with colleagues, students and patients. The house surgeons
farewells when the staff and my family would celebrate at home or go for a picnic are special
moments that I treasure. I often look at the pictures of the students paying homage to their
teachers after they had completed their posting. It makes me feel so humble.

HYY: There is a chance that medical education may turn private soon in our Amimyay. To what
extent do you think medical ethics should play a part in the education of the new doctors?
DHY: Medical ethics has always been a part of the medical curriculum of medical schools.
However, it cannot be taught in the classroom. The qualities of integrity, humility, compassion
and truth have to be nurtured by the educators who have to set the example.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 4


TTO: We think the students love you and respect you because you set that example. We know that
you have devoted your entire life of your clinical years to your patients in Burma. What do you
think are the weakest links in our health services if we want to provide the best available health

DHY: Health services in every country in the world face many complex challenges, and reforms
are being initiated. The government alone cannot provide effective health care for all. However,
in Myanmar, the percentage of the budget allotted for health services needs to be increased. The
role of preventive medicine through health education must be emphasized.

HYY: What advice would you give to those new graduates in these days of evidence- based
DHY: Doctors are called upon every day to make decisions about the care of individual patients.
It may sometimes be a matter of life and death. To make the decision the doctor needs
proficiency and judgment which clinicians acquire through experience and clinical practice.
Evidence- based medicine integrates clinical expertise with evidence from research. It may not
be appropriate to rely solely on the results of research for the individual patient, just as
experience alone would not be sufficient to keep up with the advances made in diagnosis and
treatment. Good doctors should use both clinical expertise and best available external evidence.
Medicine should be an art as well as a science; it deals with the very processes of life, which
must be understood before they may be guided (Paracelsus).

TTO: What are your views on the diaspora of Myanmar doctors we are witnessing today?
DHY: Doctors as well as other professionals are migrating to other more developed countries.
With globalization, this is happening not only in Myanmar but all over the world. It is human
nature to seek greener pastures. No doubt it has a detrimental effect on the country which
invested in their training and need their services. It may be remedied in part by addressing the
causes of this brain drain. Some of the reasons for leaving are poor working conditions, low job

5 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


satisfaction due to lack of equipment and medicines and inability to maintain the standard of
living due to the low salary. Incentives such as enhancing career prospects will be of help.

HYY: Thank you very much Ma Ma, for sharing your experience and insight with us. Finally, if you
could live your life again and had a chance to change your life, which aspects would you change?
DHY: If I had to live my life over again, I would try to be more kind and compassionate. Now
that I have the experience of being a patient, I realize the importance of treating the physical,
mental and emotional aspects of the illness. At this stage in my life, when I reflect on the past
and anticipate the future, I have my share of regrets and rejoicings. However, I feel that the
positive outweighs the negative. So let me finish my answer with this quote from Einstein
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

HYY: Many thanks again Ma Ma, for letting us have a glimpse of your dedicated medical life, your
words of wisdom, and giving us your time.

(Acknowledgement: we are grateful to Sayamagyis daughter Dr May Htwe Han, and

Dr Shwe Zin Tun for the photos)

Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not
lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
- A Camus

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to
collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
- Charles D arwin

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that
survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
- Charles D arwin

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come
out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not tearing frass," Dad
would reply. "We're raising boys."
- H armon K illebrew

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 6


Interview with a senior AMIM Alumnus:

Dr. U Tin Hla

Interviewed by
Christine Tan (Class of 84)

Christine: Thank you Saya U Tin Hla for allowing

me to interview you for AMIM magazine. It is a real
privilege to get to know a senior alumnus through
AMIM website. As someone who treasures childhood
memories, may I start our interview with your
Dr U Tin Hla: Thank you Christine. I was born in
Kyaiklat Township from middle class parents,
named U Po Kwe and Daw Saw Yin. I attended the
Japanese School in Kyaiklat when we were under
Japanese occupation. We moved to Rangoon in
1946 after British re-occupied Burma. I attended
1st standard in 1946. My parents transferred me to
Central State High School when I was in the 6th
standard and I sat for the 7th standard scholarship
examination the next year.
Christine: What would be the most memorable part
of your childhood?
Dr U Tin Hla: I have to admit that I have blocked it
out of my mind for more than fifty years. It was
totally out of my mind until I went back to Burma
recently, when everything came back vividly in my
mind. I was a newspaper boy when I was in high
school years. I had to get up early in the morning
about 3:00 AM and went to the newspaper press;
picked up the newspapers and counted them
according to the orders received from the different
towns from the whole country; packed them accordingly and sent them to the respective towns;
some by train, some by boat and some by air. I finished my job at about 6:30 AM and I went to
attend the school at 7:00 AM. On our way to the press, my brother in law and I rode on a bicycle.
We peddled alternately and stopped at the road side fried rice shop, ate fried rice and sardine
curry almost every morning. I think I got about 50 kyats per month, which was a good sum for
my pocket money as minimum wage for governmental employee at that time was 85 Kyats a
month. That came back in my memory lane.
Christine: Those were the days! Any highlights during your high school & medical student years?
Dr U Tin Hla: I also have this fond memory of my heydays as someone under adorning golden
umbrella when I went into novicehood (shin-pyu- tone ka shwe htee saung). After Independence
U Nus Government started scholarship exam for 7th standard in 1952. Fortunately, I was in 7th
standard and I had a chance to take the exam. I stood 2nd in the Rangoon Division and I was
7 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

selected to attend the pre-medical class. We were taught science subjects only from 8th standard
onward. After matriculation we attended the Intermediate senior class as special pre-medical
students, skipping junior year and joined medical school a year after matriculation. Yes I jumped
one year in the intermediate class. I passed matriculation in1954 and I was in medical school in
1955, joining the 1960 graduating class. However, I graduated in 1962 because I experienced
failure the very first time in my 2nd MB senior year and again failed pathology in my final part
Christine: Can you tell us your life in USA, in particular the early years and the struggles as a new
Dr U Tin Hla: I came to USA in 1980. February 29th to be exact. I took my ECFMG Examination
in July and luckily I passed. I started looking for a residency program in any specialty available. I
applied to 60-70 programs; no luck and was getting depressed and discouraged. My wife and I
cried at night in our bed room saying we made a big mistake by coming to USA. Then I started
looking for any type of jobs and I found an advertisement from a handicapped hospital in
Kansas rural area for a house officer position. I applied for it. They liked my credentials and
asked me to get references from 3 people who know me for more than 10 years. I was in USA
less than a year and I could not get references as required. I then called my friends from Medical
school, Dr. Koung Sein from California and Dr. Talwar from Chicago. The third reference was
from my brother-in-law.
When Dr. Talwar learned that I was still looking for residency, he asked me to come to Chicago.
My wife and I went to Chicago and stayed at his house for a week. Dr. Talwar took me to his
hospital every day. He started calling all his friends to find a position for me. I had interview
from few hospitals. The fateful day was the last day of my visit there. I can still vividly recall that
it was a Friday. I had an interview at a hospital in the morning and they wanted me to attend
noon conference. I had another interview for Radiation Oncology program in the afternoon. I
attended the noon conference and it was too late for me to go for Radiation Oncology interview
and I decided to cancel that interview. But, Dr. Talwar insisted that I should go and he called the
Radiation Oncology program director and apologized for our delay. Luckily they waited for me. I
was interviewed by a Korean Program Director and he asked me why I came to USA. I explained
to him about Burmas political and social situation and uncertainty of my childrens education.
He was quite impressed with me and asked me your English is very good, Where did you learn
your English? I told him we learned all the subjects through the medium of English, but our
spoken English is a bit weak and sometimes I could not express myself what I really wanted to.
Interview with another Pakistani doctor was just a joke. He asked me How is Ne Win? I told
him he is still in power. The interview ended just like that and I came back to St. Louis where
our family lived. I got a call from the program Director in February asking me to join his
Radiation Oncology Residency Program on 1st of March 1981, one year after I landed in USA.
That was the happiest day in my life and I was so grateful to Dr. Talwar. I passed my Flex
examination during my residency years and I got my license to practice medicine. I did some
moonlighting in my 4th year to supplement my income. By the way, I got the house officers
position I applied for, in Kansas while I was attending my residency. If that offer came a little bit
earlier, I might be doing something else.
Christine: Life does have full of twists and turns. What you just described really explains the
meaning of friend in need is a friend indeed. Lets talk about Radiation Oncology. Can you tell us
about that segment of life dealing with terminally ill patients?
Dr U Tin Hla: As Radiation Oncologists, we saw many terminally ill patients. At times, we were
emotionally involved and we grieved with the patients family when the patients condition
turned sour unexpectedly. Most of the time, we could deal with the patients calmly, when we
knew the prognosis and when the patient and the family had accepted the situation

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 8


Christine: Is there any memorable event to share with us?

Dr U Tin Hla: The most memorable event I can think of is when I was a Resident in Radiation
Therapy Department. One patient with cancer of the larynx came in to see us. He had
tracheotomy tube inserted and was having difficulty in breathing. All of a sudden he became
choked and passed out and stopped breathing. The whole department went crazy, calling code
blue while all the residents and attending physicians were busy searching for gloves to handle
the patient. I went ahead and gave him mouth to tracheotomy stoma resuscitation and the
patient survived. Of course, I had to wash my mouth several times after that. That was the
talking point of the whole department and everybody commended my effort.
Christine: It indeed is commendable. Please tell me about your family and the success stories.
Dr U Tin Hla: As we are Burmese, we have the Burmese mentality. My wife and I always
wanted our children to take up medicine. But our two sons wanted to take engineering and our
two daughters wanted to pursue medicine. So they did their choices. My older son took up
computer science. Our older daughter took up psychiatry and younger daughter took up
Radiation Oncology, like me.
Our youngest son got Master in Electrical Engineering and worked for AT&T for two and a half
years. He then asked me about my opinion if he wanted to go back to medical school. I told him
Why not; you will still be ten years ahead of me when you finish your specialty. I started from
scratch in my late forties. So he went back to medical school and now he is an ophthalmologist.
They married to the doctors and I have seven doctors in my family.
Christine: You must be very proud of your children. How did you adjust your family life and
professional life?
Dr U Tin Hla: My family lived in Chicago. I worked at Michigan City in Indiana, which is about
one and a half hours drive from Chicago. I stayed there on working days and came back home on
weekends. My wife is the one who took care of the family activities. Without her contribution, I
would not be able to cope with.
Christine: Thanks Saya. Any advice to the younger generation especially those searching for
promise lands?
Dr U Tin Hla : Set an attainable goal and work hard to achieve it. Dont be distracted by small
stuff. Try to be the best, whatever you do. Meditate when you are frustrated. You dont have to
be rich, if you have ambition to further your career goal. All my children took government loans
to attend the medical schools, one hundred thousand each. They paid back when they started
earning money.
Christine: This is my final question. Can you tell us about your typical retirement day?
Dr U Tin Hla: I was officially retired for more than ten years now. After staying at home and
doing nothing for about nine months, I got bored and did some locum tenens jobs, covering few
days or weeks here and there for those Radiation Oncologists who needed some time off for
their vacation. So I can still make use of my expertise and at the same time earn pocket money.
As for my typical retirement day, I let myself free and loose, get up any time, but one of my
children would call me about 8:00 AM, checking on us while they were on their way to work. I
answered their telephone calls and went back to sleep. My days are spent by reading, watching
T.V. and enjoying reading news on AMIM website daily or playing billiards occasionally. We
used to go on cruise ship once a year with our children and visit Burma or Southeast Asia,
almost every year, apart from visiting relatives at different parts of the US.
Christine: Thank you once again Saya for sharing your most rewarding journey with us. May you
and your family have many happy & peaceful years ahead.

9 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


A Better Man than Me

By Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint
I M (1), Class of 67

I first met him in 1960, at Yankin College, all of

us the last batch to do Intermediate of Science
courses at Yankin. He was unique because he
passed matriculation with six distinctions, while
many of us got only three. How this happened, he
might tell you, if you ask him nicely. What
impressed me most from the very first was his
methodical way of studying. Also, his willingness
to learn, as well as not believing anything until it
was proven or more often than not, proven by
Apart from his academic prowess, he showed me what he could do on his own.
Some friends and I were taking tuition in biology, including practical. He learnt
that I had been taught how to dissect the nerve ring of an earth worm and the
salivary glands of a cockroach. He asked how it was done over the phone and got
both on the first try. Even with close supervision, I needed more than a few times. Even at that
time, my friend told me that I could never be a surgeon and to think of something else to
specialize!!! Of course, his advice was very sound and I ended up in a non-surgical specialty.
He assembled the skeleton of a bird shot down by his younger brother with a catapult; next was
the skeleton of their pet cat. Both assembled skeletons would put the Smithsonian to shame, so
perfect was his patience and skill. Next was his dexterity with his hands and perfection in all he
did: their living room had furniture with woven rattan seats and backs. When some of these
broke, he asked a person from the furniture shop to put in new woven rattan. He watched very
carefully only once, then he asked the man to leave but asked him to sell him his remaining
rattan and the fine knives used to pare the rattan. Two days later, I found that all the chairs had
new seats and backs, all done by my friend.
Like myself, my friend collected books and decided to have a book shelf
made. Again, he asked a Chinese carpenter to come to his house to
teach him carpentry the Chinese way i.e. sa ywe kait making furniture
without using nails. And he did made a large book shelf using this
technique. Of course as before, he sought advice on what tools to buy
and also bought some from the carpenter so that he could start right
away. This well-made bookshelf must still be either in my friends
house or left in his mothers house. In our 2nd MBBS years, my friend and I went to the Kyandaw
cemetery, as we could buy bones from the workers there and these at very cheap prices, a femur

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 10


was two kyats and a humerus one. I bought a set for myself to study osteology but my friend
bought more than one of the each long bone.
The next time I visited him, he said, Johnny, you know Grant is right about bones and
fractures. I did not know what he was talking but he took me to his study, where he had put up
two vices, with a long bone clamped to both, along with an opened copy of Grant's Method of
Anatomy. He demonstrated by hitting the bone till it broke. Yes, he found that humerus bone
always broke at supracondylar region, the femur either transtrochanteric or central and the
ulna at its distal end, the perfect Colles fracture.
So Grant was right!!!!
Even in 2nd MB, my friend kept separate notebooks in all basic
sciences. When asked, my friend told me that he was keeping
these notes to use when he would do postgraduate studies. And
he did, even taking some of them to England! Talk about
planning and knowing where ones life would lead.
Throughout every year from I.Sc (A) to Final Year MBBS, I was
beaten by my friend in every subject, he obtaining distinctions
in medicine and surgery and I only in medicine in the final year.
Yet we remained close friends, more brothers than friends. We
went to England for our graduate studies where he finished his
FRCS (Edin) in next to no time, went on to study under the
Professor of Orthopaedics in Glasgow so that he could specialize
in hand surgery, before doing his M. Ch (Orthopaedics) from
Liverpool. My friend was the first person among us to continue
using a seat belt in Burma, after his return from England. He
(Picture Skeleton from Webster was a strong advocate for a law to be passed to make seat belts
online dictionary) compulsory in Burma but without success. He started the
National Programme for Prevention of Accidents and trained
many doctors in traumatology. He was the first to do a successful re-plantation of a severed limb
in Burma. While I left the government service as a mere lecturer, my friend went on to be a
professor and subsequently the rector of our medical school.
Yes, I was writing about Professor U Myo Myint.
Whoever reads this will agree with me that Ko Myo is, has been and always will be a better man
than me in every way.

11 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Stories Retold: A Page from History

Read the Early Signs!

By Huat Za Mang
IM (1)

This article is based on the book "Za Hre Lian of Burma" by Dr.Stephen Hre Kio as narrated
directly by Za Hre Lian himself. Za Hre Lian was a cabinet minister for Chin Affairs Council
(1954 1962) as well as one of the six inner circle cabinet members under Prime Minister U
Nu. The Inner Circle consisted of U Nu, Thakin Tin, Thakin Tin Maung, Sao Kun Cho,
Bohmu Aung and Za Hre Llian
Za Hre Lian was appointed as Ambassador to France (1964 -1970) and later the
Netherlands, Spain, Egypt (1970 1975), and then to Nepal but he defected to the USA in
1976 and lived in the Washington State, working as a stock broker. His wife Sui Men Twe,
M.D. is still working currently as a family physician. He died following his third heart
surgery (coronary by pass) in April 1997.

A Fatal Night in 1962

During the latter part of February 1962, there was a ballet troupe from China visiting for two
weeks, performing Swan Lake till past midnight.
On the night of March 1st 1962, General Ne Win was watching "Swan Lake" ballet till past
midnight (i.e. early morning of 2nd March), while his soldiers were rounding up all the national
political leaders including all cabinet members, the Prime Minister ( U Nu) , the President (Mahn
Win Maung) and the Chief Justice, U Myint Thein.

Perfect Timing
Ne Win selected the best period of the calendar to arrest the national leaders. Parliament was in
session and all the national parliament leaders were in the city, including the speakers of the
two houses. In all, about 400 leaders were arrested, including the former President Sao Shwe
Thaike (provisional) and Chief Justice of Supreme Court, U Myint Thein.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 12


Unsuspecting U Nu
U Nu could not believe it when the soldiers surrounded his residence in Windermere Court at
about 1 a.m.,and woke him up. He thought it might be a military exercise. Even when he was
asked to go with them he was still asking, "Does the General know what you are doing?. When
he was told that it was on the order of the General that they were taking him, he insisted that he
would call Ne Win and talk to him. He tried to make a call, but the phone line had already been
cut. He did not believe that Ne Win perpetrated the coup .His wife and other members of the
family wept, but he told them not to weep, because this was fate. He was taken to the same
house in Mingaladon as President U Win Maung. U Nu still believed and continued to believe
that Ne Win would rescue him or at least release him in good time; but his arrest lasted more
than five years.

Sao Shwe Thaike

When the soldiers arrested Sao Shwe Thaike, one of his sons came to the door with a spear and
was shot dead by the soldiers. Sao Shwe Thaike was roughly handled, and was not even allowed
to change from his pajamas into street attire. The soldiers ordered him to climb onto a truck.
They pushed him up and he stumbled into the truck as he was already old and it was difficult for
him to climb up.When he arrived at the Burma Broadcasting Service hall, he was wet and
shivering. He said that the truck he was in was without cover and he had got wet from the dew.

Leniency on Za Hre Lian?

At 1 a.m, Za Hre Lian was woken up at his home in Windermere Crescent by one of the night
guards softly but distinctly telling him that the captain wanted to see him. He got up from bed
and met the captain who said "Honorable Minister, sorry to wake you at this hour, but I want
you to come with me". Za Hre Lian asked," Can you tell me what is happening?" The captain
would not say anything more than that their Bogyoke Gyi wanted to meet with him. He was
given enough time to dress in official attire and to have his usual early morning coffee. He was
also allowed, on his insistence, to go in his car driven by his chauffeur. The captain sat in front,
next to the chauffer , with loaded Sten gun, directing the driver to the Burma Broadcasting
Service building where all other political leaders and Supreme Court Chief Justice U Myint Thein
would be assembled.

From BBS to Mingaladon to Signal Pagoda Road

After some time, all of them were moved to a large hall in Mingaladon where military personnel
used to watch movies. The major in charge there, seeing Thakin Tin wearing a gaung baung
asked U Za Hre Lian,"Is he the Prime Minister?" Za Hre replied,"No, he is the Deputy Prime
Minister, Thakin Tin.
From there, Za Hre Lian, Mahn Ba Saing (Speaker of the House) and the new minister for
Arakanese Affairs were ushered into a car and were driven towards Rangoon. Za Hre Lian asked
the major where he was taking them. "To Kyandaw" was the response. He was relieved when
the car proceeded straight ahead instead of turning towards Kyandaw when they reached the
Hanthawaddy Roundabout.
They were taken to the War Office where the MIS boss Colonel Maung Lwin guided them to a
room surrounded by thick walls, in which were dozens of well-armed men. General Ne Win was
sitting at the head of a long glazed table. Ne Win lamely apologized to them, saying that the
soldiers should not have picked them up in the first place.
It must have been about 7 a.m when Ne Win indicated that government cars would take them
home. As they started to move towards the door, Mahn Ba Saing said that he had to go to the
Parliament meeting. Ne Win's terse response was, "You can attend if you want to, but the
Parliament has been dissolved". Za Hre Lian uttered words to Ne Win which was in effect saying,

13 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


"How are you going to dissolve the Parliament? Will you do it by military decree or what? Ne
Win shouted back angrily, "Ha'. Don't you talk to me about legality. It is precisely for the reason
that I removed (sacked) U Myint Thein. Didnt you know that the parliament has been
dissolved?" Ne Win once again apologized for having them picked up by the soldiers,
accompanied them to the waiting cars and even opened the car door for Za Hre Lian.
Za Hre Lian returned to his residence at about 8 am; he had a strange feeling that he had been
removed from power by a coup dtat.

Split of AFPFL
In 1956, the Anti Fascist Peoples Freedom League (AFPFL) was split into two factions: Clean
AFPFL and Stable AFPFL. What caused the split is unsettled. One of the issues identified by U
Nu was the fact that the socialists U Ba Swe (Vice President of AFPFL) and U Kyaw Nyein
(General Secretary of AFPFL) had been soliciting members to the party for political gain under
the umbrella of AFPFL. There were also rumours that the wives of the leaders, U Nu's wife Daw
Mya Yi and U Kyaw Nyein's wife Daw Nwe Nwe Yi were at odds with each other based on
education level; Daw Nwe Nwe Yi was a lawyer, and Daw Mya Yi was a home-maker. Daw Nwe
Nwe Yi was active politically behind the scenes.
U Ba Swe pleaded strongly against the split with teary eyes, but U Nu was adamant. There was a
vote in the AFPFL meeting and the majority of the votes went to U Ba Swe-U Kyaw Nyein (none
of the Chins in Chin Affairs Council were AFPFL members). U Nu was very disappointed and
handed over the premiership temporarily to U Ba Swe, who handed it back to U Nu after some
months, while waiting for vote of non-confidence. The U Nu Government survived the
non-confidence vote by eight votes from U Za Hre Lian's Chin Congress Party. The Nation
newspaper reported "U Nu survived by the skin of his teeth".

The Earlier Coup Attempt

Sometime in 1957, the military planned a coup. The UMP (Union Military Police) got the tip and
took up stations around Windermere to defend the residences of the cabinet ministers. The
Police Force in Rangoon also had taken up positions; then the army backed off and went back to
Mingaladon base.
When an investigation was launched, General Ne Win claimed that he did not know anything
about the troops movement. No one was arrested, nor reprimanded from the army. However,
many believed that it was the plot of Colonel Maung Maung and Brigadier Aung Shwe, both
known as socialists and were the most educated among the officers, and most powerful, next to
Ne Win.
General Ne Win would look at these two officers for their approval to pass important decisions
at CO meetings.

Handing Over of Power to Ne Win (Caretaker Government)

U Nu handed power to General Ne Win in 1958 with the request to hold elections within six
months. He could not control his Government and a lot of tension was building up in the country
and party. General Ne Win requested a further extension of his term for another year in which
time he promised to hold a free and fair election and as security was not that good during that
time, six months was too short a period of time to arrange and organize the election. This was
approved by the Parliament.
U Nu took office back in April 1960, after winning the election by a landslide. He was
campaigning to make Buddhism as the State Religion, contrary to Bogyoke Aung San's political

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 14


The Achievements of Ne Win as Caretaker Prime Minister

1) Raising The Status of The Opposition Party Leader
In the past, the Opposition Party was often regarded as a nuisance during Parliamentary
debates. The Parliament readily approved the elevation of the Opposition Party Leader's
position to the level of a Cabinet Minister with all benefits and privileges because
democracy would not be healthy without an Opposition Party.
2) Raising the salaries of the Cabinet Ministers from 1600 kyats to 3400 kyats per month
and to 4000 kyats for the Prime Minister.
The parliament approved this too, as the country had a National Budget Surplus at the
3) Arms confiscations from the insurgents were the highest during the Caretaker
4) General Election was held on the February 6, 1960. U Nu and his AFPFL won by a
U Nu took office again as Prime Minister on April 4th, 1960. .He won the election mainly
by campaigning to recognize Buddhism as the State Religion. We will take power by
force was the rhetoric of Stable AFPFL. Za Hre Lian was stunned when U Ba Swe told
him at his house that they will use force if necessary and that it had been arranged.
5) In January 1960, Ne Win as Prime Minister went to Peking to sign the Border Agreement
with Chou En Lai, handing over three or four Kachin villages to China*.

Cabinet Meeting Was Secretly Taped

At the U Nus Inner Circle Meeting Room, they were shocked to find out that Ne Win's
Intelligence personnel had installed tiny microphones and recorders. So Ne Win heard
everything they discussed. The question was WHY? Ne Win had an ulterior motive.
U Za Hre Lian once suggested that Ne Win should be the next President because of his good
record during the Caretaker Government. U Nu said that Ne Win was still young and would have
a chance in the future and he had a desire to be Chairman of the Burmah Oil Company which
paid a high salary. Most probably because of this suggestion, Za Hre Lian was treated with
leniency on March 2, 1962.

The Last Days of the Caretaker Government

Some military officers, particularly the two socialists Colonel Maung Maung and Brigadier Aung
Shwe advocated hanging on to power. Ne Win disagreed and challenged them, "Will you two
resign or should I resign? The context was "order them to resign" They were arrested and
transported to jail. The action of firing the two most powerful officers was possible because he
had achieved a national milestone in upholding democracy. He had earned the trust of the
Government, particularly of U Nu who blindly trusted him.

The Early Signs that U Nu Failed to See

After the 1957 attempted coup, no action was taken on the part of the perpetrators (the Army)
but the Chief UMP and all the Staff Officers were fired. The Police Chief and officers were also
fired instead of being rewarded for their vigilance. The UMP merged into the army. The Chin
Rifle and Kachin Rifle Battalions were merged into the Burmese Battalions. These posted a sign
about Ne Win's ultimate intention. A few days before the coup, U Ba Saw ( an Arakanese) a
Cabinet Minister for Religious Affairs, Social Welfare, Health and Immigration was on his way to
Mingaladon Airport to fly to Akyab for an important meeting. He was stopped by a group of
soldiers who searched him and disarmed his body guards and was not allowed to proceed.
Frustrated, he returned to his residence in Rangoon. This was a case of insubordination by the
soldiers tantamount to rebellion. U Nu returned from Mount Popa hurriedly when he got the

15 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


message. He was informed in detail about the situation but he took no personal action rather
than handing the matter to Ne Win. U Nu sat stony- faced, doing nothing.
In early January 1962, MIS Captain Kyaw Sein visited Za Hre Lian, his college classmate, at
night. The captain said, "Tell U Nu not to trust Ne Win because he is crafty. If you don't watch Ne
Win, it will not be good." What he actually wanted to do was to meet U Nu personally or at least
U Ohn (Chief of staff of U Nu). Za Hre Lian assured him that he would be in touch with them. As
per the protocol, he had to go through U Ohn to reach U Nu and on the same night he called U
Ohn telling him about the important message of the MIS Captain and to convey the message to U
Nu. U Ohn never passed the important message to U Nu, thinking that this was just a rumour.
On the afternoon of March 2, 1962 Za Hre Lian went straight to U Ohn's residence (U Ohn was
not arrested) after returning from the War Office and asked him why he had not informed U Nu
or taken action on his information which came straight from MIS Officer. U Ohn had no answer;
he broke down and wept.
The military was definitely tilting towards Swe-Nyein Party (Stable AFPFL) before and during
the election in 1960. One day, Brigadier San Yu and Lt. Colonel Van Kulh were summoned to the
War Office by Colonel Maung Maung (Staff Officer 1). As a rule , the staff officer was one of the
most powerful men in the military since he could issue orders on behalf of the Chief of Staff.
Colonel Maung Maung lectured them to the effect that the election should favour Swe-Nyein
Party. When San Yu replied that they would carry out the instructions that the Government
issued, Maung Maung responded by saying with a raised voice," Don't you know that we are the

Ne Win's Reason for the Coup

His main reason was to prevent the disintegration of the Union which was highly questionable.
There was a movement of Frontier Areas to form National Minority Alliance during a meeting in
Taung Gyi in February 1961. The aim was to create a new constitution in which Burma Proper
would have the same status as another state (Federalism).
During the Parliament session in February-March 1962, there was a discussion on the question
of federalism. Some Members raised question of some states seceding from the Union. This
matter was discussed during the Cabinet meeting as well. However, there was no ultimatum or
threat from the states to say that "unless we get it we will leave the Union and secede".
In fact U Nu had announced to his Cabinet members, after a long discussion and negotiation,
that the issue of seceding had been amicably settled. No State would ask to secede from the
Union. Whether U Nu informed Ne Win was not known .Political bickering was like a thorn in Ne
Win's side which annoyed him too.

Political Maturity
Among the thirty comrades Ne Win was second to Bogyoke Aung San militarily, and he was a
capable and intelligent military leader. He preached and practiced the Principles of Democracy
during his Care Taker Government more so effectively than U Nu. He could have followed the
examples of General George Washington. After the Revolution War was over his army wanted
him to become the Emperor, but he refused. When some army troops were on their way to
storm the Congress and take power, he intercepted them and punished them. He resigned from
the generalship and became a farmer again. Later, he was elected to be the First President of
USA, and got the second term. He was approached to go for the third term but he refused saying
that I might become an autocrat or a tyrant.. The country prospers through the Principle of
Democracy and free trades this is called a political maturity, which Ne Win and U Nu were
lacking. U Nu broke the branches of Democracy and Ne Win uprooted democracy. Both of them

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 16


had a lust for power for their own benefits and comfort but not for the progress of the country.
Democracy does not work but always work but better than Authoritarian Government.

Hanging on to the Tiger's Tail

Fifteen years after the coup, the United Nations declared Burma as one of the twelve poorest
countries in the world. Ne Win realised that he had made a mistake by quoting "Hanging onto
the tiger's tail" in one of his addresses to the Party Congress of The Burmese Way to Socialism.
His biggest mistake was nationalization of big and small businesses, supposedly to punish the
Chinese and Indians who had monopolized the business. Instead, all the people of Burma
suffered the same economic downturn and poverty.
A multi-party system was mentioned in one of his speeches before he announced that he would
retire from politics, but he did not arrange or mention any peaceful transfer of power, resulting
in 8888 political chaos: too little too late, resulting in one military take-over after another,
plunging the country into the misery of being amongst the poorest five in the world, and in mass
exodus of able people for better life.
With the messianic mentality of the army top brass, Burma has a long, long way to go.

Authors Note: Permission was obtained from the original author of the book.

Editors note:
According to another version, the Border agreement was signed by U Nu and Chou En Lai, in
October 1960, after U Nu had won the election. Gen. Ne Win might have been part of the
negotiating team but as far as I could remember U Myint Thein lead the negotiating team
together with Col. Saw Myint, Northern Division Commander and U Shan Lone, Administrator of
the Border Areas.
Dr. Maung Maung wrote about this Border Agreement in ASIA SURVEY: JSTOR Jan 1961. Please
see the following page.
As to the villages, the Chinese called them not as Si San Bana as the Burmese do - it's Yip San
Banna - Yip= 1, San = 3, and funnily Banna = Pali Bhandar = Treasure - the Thirteen Treasure.
They wanted this area back as this was where the Chinese Coffin Trees grow. We got back over
one third of what is now in the Kachin State.

17 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


I am telling the story not as it happened but as I could remember"

- Charles D ickens, in Great E xpectations

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 18


A Tale of Two Cities:

My Stories from Bogale and Carmarthen

By Soe Aung Htay

These are my lifes stories of practising medicine,
first in Burma where I was born and later in
United Kingdom, where I was given opportunities
to practise, two contrasting scenarios of medical
Yes, the contrast was so profound between the
two countries.
On one hand, the United Kingdom is a developed,
democratic country and on the other, Burma is
ruled by a military regime. Both countries
claimed to give free health care services. In Burma
the hospitals and health centres are operated by
government staff and funded by the government
while in UK, it is the National Health Service. The
people or patients from both towns are very
similar. They are generally very nice and
appreciative of the healthcare they receive. Both
towns are at the mouth of rivers.

Bogale was the town where I first went and practised as a General Practitioner (GP) after my
graduation as a doctor. It was one of the highlights of my life then and even now, I was still not
sure whether I did all the right things for my patients while practising there. I am sure a lot of
us have those kinds of experiences, if one has served in Burmas country side, towns or villages.
Hope it would bring back some memories for many of us who did the same as I. I used real
names for the people who were associated with me at that time but not my patients.
Bogale is one of the delta towns in southern part of Burma about eighty nautical miles away
from Rangoon. It is built along the bank of Burmas main river, the Irrawaddy. It can only be
reached by boat at that time. The boat journey from Rangoon took about 12 hours! I am not
kidding. It could take a lot more time if there were any incidents or engine trouble.
Recently there was big news around the world when Cyclone Nargis struck it fiercely and at
least one thousand people were killed in Bogale and probably many more disappeared from
other towns and villages.
This is the story about my experience when I went there in 1977 to open a GP clinic.

19 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Swim or sink... Here I come, Bogale!

In life there are times when we are dropped into the deep end of the pool and have to swim or
Even now, it is still true in my job in the National Health Service. I will be asked to use new
equipment without previous training, have to let the new trainee do things after assessing him
or her for a few minutes only. I may come across difficult patients with complex diseases and
sometimes rare conditions unknown to me. I have to make quick decisions and get on with it.
Luckily many times I make the right decisions. I could say that because they survived the
operation and came out of anaesthesia without any mishap.
Probably the scarier moments must be during the time where I went to practise in Bogale, a
town new to me and myself without adequate training and very little resources.

First career step in life

We, Burmese medical doctors, had no
trouble finding jobs in Burma until the
early part of 1970s. Beginning from the
latter half of 1970s, there were not enough
jobs for the number of medical graduates
from the three medical schools. The
situation must now be worse as there are
now five medical colleges with increased
numbers of student intake each year.
I had no relatives in the UK or the USA and I
had no money so I could not go directly to
those countries. Most of the doctors who
graduated before me were recognised by
the UK and can directly go there to start working. I was in the first batch to sit for the medical
examination that assessed my competence.
In June 1977 after I finished my internship, I became a full-fledged doctor and could now
practise as a doctor. I had to start working to earn money as I could not afford not to.

I was terrified
As a newly qualified doctor I was terrified to go out and make a living as a doctor-without being
supervised. In the UK, after foundation year 1 and 2, one would be trained as a specialist under
supervision. Or if you chose to do general practice, you would have to undergo training by
working under a principal GP.
I did not even know whether I could cope on my own as a doctor in a strange place and with
people who I did not know. There were going to be a lot of "Read one, do one and pray a lot"
instead of "See one and do one".

The training I received

Luckily I observed something about doing general practice as we had a GP surgery in our own
house for a few years. It started with Dr Daw Kyi Kyi (LMP early 1950 batch), our family doctor
who unfortunately passed away in Australia a few years ago. Dr Daw Kyi Kyi was like my god
mother. She was the one I looked up to as a caring doctor. She was not after money. She would
not charge any money if the patients had no money and made home visits to poor people like us.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 20


My main assets
My main assets were my willingness to work hard and some confidence in what I had learnt
during my medical school years. There was no choice but to try. I had tried to learn a lot from
my sayagyis and sayamagyis from IM (1). The clinical knowledge and skills that I had learnt
from Sayagyi Reggie Ba Pe, Dr. Daw Hnin Yee, Dr U Hla Myint, Dr Daw Myat Kyi Than, Dr U Kyee
Paw, Mr Kumar and Dr Aye Aye Myint to name a few. I could blame them if there were any
short comings in my practice. Just kidding!
I chose Bogale because there was a friend of my aunty who lived there and she was going to help
me. There were about four hospital doctors and four general practitioners.
In contrast, Carmarthen has about two hundred hospital doctors and a hundred general

My resources
I asked one of my best friends Ko Myo Win, who
graduated from Rangoon Arts and Science
University in Chemistry to come with me. He could
help me out running the clinic and I would help him
out to start tutoring matriculation students in
Bogale. He would be my clinic manager, my
personal assistant and my adviser. I would be his
assistant in his tuition school. Anyway that was
plan "B". I needed somebody to hold my hands.
I was also lucky that one of my mums dressmaking
students would come with us as a general help, a
cook and a nurse if required. A stethoscope, some
medicines, needles, syringes, a couple of artery forceps, some dressing and stitches, a mercury
sphygmomanometer, a small hand pumped kerosene stove, a tin cooking pot for boiling and
sterilising needles and syringes. There I floated in a boat, down the Irrawaddy river, enjoying
the beautiful scenery on its banks.

My first home visit

We opened our clinic at U Mya Thans house near the river bank where the market was close
by, and the name of the clinic is Ah Raw Gyan", meaning Health. After a slow start I had my
patient base built up. Mostly, patients had diarrhoea or fever. Some came to the clinic probably
to check me out or out of curiosity. Many were cured by nature and I got the money.
It was within a week that I got a knock on my door. It was a man asking me whether I could
come and see a lady who gave birth last night. The baby was fine. Mother was having a number
of fits. She was not well. They had come in a "sidecar", a three wheel cycle with seats for two
passengers. At that time the sidecars were the taxis of the town. Cars were almost nonexistent
as one could not travel much distance as the town is surrounded by the tributaries of the
Irrawaddy River.
I took my medical bag which contained a stethoscope, BP measurement equipment, a
thermometer, syringe, needles and medicines. I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that
this mother might have eclampsia. I was thinking why they didn't take her to the local hospital
if the patient was so ill and unconscious. I noticed quickly that they didn't trust the local
hospital at all. As we arrived at the hut I saw a crowd of about thirty people outside the hut
and inside was about another twenty. They gave way as I approached the patient. First thing I
noticed was she wasn't breathing. I took the radial pulse and found no pulse. The hands were
still warm. Oh my god! Last thing I wanted was a dead patient and to pronounce dead to all

21 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


those people around her. I had my bad experience when I had to pronounce my grandmother
dead in our house. That night, I had a nightmare in which she woke up. I remembered our
Forensics professor U Mg Mg Taik's advice : when you were called to witness a dead body one
should take time, have a bath, a coffee and go slowly so there would be some rigor mortis signs
and prevent a chance of premature burial. Here it was too late to do any delaying tactics. So I
took some time to examine the patient and talking to the relatives. Only after then did I tell
them that the lady had already passed away. Then I left.
I thought some elders should have recognised the signs of death before I arrived. They tried to
give me call out charge but I had no heart to take it and politely refused it. I was glad I did not
hear anything from them since.

Read one, do one and pray a lot

We were doing as much as we could. We opened the clinic four hours in the morning and four
hours in the afternoon. I was always available 24/7 for my patients. Ko Myo Win started his
tuition at the clinic in the evening and we initially got about four students but later eight. I also
taught English and maths. We played badminton twice a week, after giving tuition. Then we
visited a house to go and chat, preferably with an eligible lady in the family. We had coffee and
had a good laugh together. Those were the ways we chilled out.

Little things pleased little minds

I was doing some minor surgery like incision and drainage of abscesses and stitching up some
cuts. In those days injection abscess cases were not uncommon as many GPs would give vitamin
B injection to many patients as the patients demanded. Besides, the doctors could charge more.
One day I used ketamine injection to drain a big abscess. I did one breast fistulectomy under
local anaesthetic. Both did very well and I was so pleased with myself for those little
achievements as a doctor.
Since then I also learnt that one of my classmates from St Francis' boys school, Dr Aung Than
Maung (Ronnie), did Caesarean Section on his own wife, Dr Khin San Nyunt (Sandra), in a
remote Shan state town. He must be really brave to do it and Sandra accepted his surgery
probably because she didn't have life insurance anyway. Mine was nothing compared to
Ronnies achievement. I am sure there are many such heroic or brave episodes in practice by
many doctors in Burma. It was all about risks and benefits and taking decisions.

An Interesting case of fever complicated by intractable hiccough

One day I was called out to see a man who was brought back unconscious from the forest. He
had high temperature. The patient was a middle aged man who was found unconscious lying in
an open room of a wooden house. He was out cutting the trees for wood to sell in Bogale. He
had high fever and was unconscious when he reached Bogale. Only his wife was there to give me
his history.
I was lucky to study with Saya Reggie Ba Pe who was a great diagnostician using mainly the
clinical history. I always tried not to miss his outpatient clinics where I learnt a lot about getting
a diagnosis from history alone. Saya rarely used his stethoscope and his clinical acumen was
brilliant. His ways of getting to the diagnosis was simple. Postulate a disease from the main
complaint and look for signs and symptoms so that you can decide whether to accept that
diagnosis or reject it. He once showed us how to get a diagnosis using a patient admitted for
chest pain. I still use this analytical method when patients under anaesthesia were having
hypoxia and hypotension.
There I was recalling his method and how to get a diagnosis on this comatose man.
As common things are common, I was thinking of a few causes of coma with fever such as
meningitis, chest infection, typhoid fever, cerebral malaria. There was no history of cough, chills

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 22


and rigour but history was not that reliable. I did recall Dr Daw Myat Kyi Than's teaching about
hard signs and soft signs as well. There was absence of neck rigidity, abnormal breathing and
chest signs, upper motor neurone signs, and jaundice. Spleen was not palpable. Liver, I thought
was just palpable. Abdomen was soft and there was no tenderness.
By exclusion method of sayagyi Reggie Ba Pe I made the diagnosis of typhoid fever. I gave the i.v
injection of Chloramphenicol and antipyretic and I returned to my clinic. I put up normal saline
drip with B complex as he was not eating and drinking for a couple of days. The next day I
called to see him again. He was afebrile and conscious, but very weak. The major problem then
was he had a terrible hiccough. I gave him another i.v injection of chloramphenicol and i.m
injection of chlopromazine for the hiccough. I also gave oral chloramphenicol capsules and
paracetamol. Another infusion was given even though he had started to drink by himself. The
hiccough was gone.
The next day when I called to see him, he was still in on the floor, on a mattress. He looked more
alert and I was told his hiccough was getting worse a few hours after I left. He was not drinking
and eating because of it. I read about the treatment of persistent hiccough from my synopsis of
Anaesthesia and found that one way of treating intractable hiccough was to do phrenic nerve
block. I thought if he didn't have hiccough he should be eating and drinking. I realised that it
was hard for them to pay any more money for the drip.
I had done some supraclavicular brachial plexus block at the Rangoon General Hospital
emergency theatre with my cousin Dr Thein Aung, an anaesthetist who is now in Hong Kong. I
used lignocaine and did the block. Before injecting the local anaesthetic I wondered whether he
would stop breathing. Thanks god he didn't and the hiccough stopped immediately. It worked.
From then on, he made a complete recovery. He visited my clinic a month later with pain in his
right hypochondrium. That time his liver was enlarged and tender. I thought it could be
amoebic hepatitis and gave him chloroquine and emetine i.m. No relief. So I advised him to go
to RGH. They had to sell their hut and everything they owned to go to RGH. Later on I found out
that he died from liver cancer at the RGH. Could it be double pathology when he presented to
me first? Looking back, I wished I had ultrasound at that time. To this day I am still wondering
whether I did the right thing for my patient. Doing phrenic nerve block without resuscitation
equipment!!! Was I careless or was that a lucky escape?
Little boat rides in Bogale and the helicopter ride in Carmarthen
I felt great when we were given some fish, big lobsters and
vegetables from some of my patients and they kept me going.
Edible frogs were another delicacy that my patients brought.
I would be rowed in small boats to see the patients day and
night. It was a bit scary during the night time; I was worried
that the big boats might hit you when you crossed the
Irrawaddy River. There was only a small kerosene lantern in
your boat. Nevertheless, It was lovely and tranquil scenery
and at night times, with a full moon above us. One would never forget the feeling. I remembered
watching fireflies flying en masse which was also an awesome sight.
We were shown how to catch field rats during the rising tide when the river banks were flooded
and the rats would be seen swimming along the river as their homes were flooded. It was so
easy to catch them as they were swimming slowly rather than running fast on the ground. They
were really big rats and delicious to eat. Yah!!
One day we visited a village called Sat Su where Ma Pyone, our young ladys parents lived. I was
naive at that time not to suspect that my friend Ko Myo Win and Ma Pyone were interested in
one another. They got married after I left Bogale and were still happily married in Burma.

23 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Longest boat ride for patient transfer

Once, in the middle of the night, I was called to see a man who had haematemesis and it took
about an hour to reach his village riding on a small motor boat. His blood pressure was low and
the heart rate fast. I could feel a definite mass in the epigastrium.
I did not know how to tell the patient what I thought about the diagnosis. It was the custom
there not to tell the patient but the immediate relative the possible diagnosis e.g. suspected
cancer or terminal illness. I told his wife that it was a serious condition and it could be cancer of
the stomach. He should be admitted to the hospital. They had very little trust in going to Bogale
hospital and I did suggest to them it would be better if they could take him to Rangoon General
Hospital. At that time many district hospitals were unable to do major operations. Even blood
transfusion was not available.
He was probably the richest man in the village and the bread winner of the house. They wanted
to do the best for him and asked me to come along as well. We took him to Rangoon in his open
small motor boat lying in a folding chair with the drip running. It took about fourteen to sixteen
hours travelling passing through the manmade Twante Canal. I took him to Rangoon General
Hospital straight away and got him admitted. Fortunately he didn't have any more episodes of
haematemesis and was stable throughout the journey. The only monitor he had was my finger
on his pulse. No resuscitation equipment. I came back to Bogale the next day. He survived the
operation for only three days in RGH.
My first helicopter ride for patient transfer
I will like to compare that trip with the helicopter ride I
had for my patient transferred from Carmarthen to
Swansea here in the U.K. The patient, in shock, was
brought to our Carmarthen casualty by helicopter. The
helicopter service was not of a government service but
by a charitable organization. I was called to the Casualty
as he was diagnosed with leaking abdominal aortic
aneurysm. Unfortunately in our hospital we did not have
a vascular surgeon who could deal with the emergency.
We decided to transfer him to Morriston Hospital in
Swansea where I worked. Morriston hospital is about 25 miles from Carmarthen hospital and it
takes 30 minutes by car. As the emergency helicopter was already ready for the transport it
was decided to take him by helicopter. The helicopter was a small one; it could take only four
people including the patient and the pilot. Half of the patient body was at the tail end and
inaccessible. The patient was still conscious but was well sedated with morphine. The
helicopter was in a farm field nearby, as the heliport in the hospital was not available, due to
concerns over health and safety issues. We took the patient on the ambulance and transferred
him to the helicopter together with all the monitors and resuscitation equipments and drugs.

Flashing lights
In the helicopter we were all strapped up and ear phones were put on. Just before we left the
pilot asked me how I wanted him to fly. As this was my first ride on the helicopter and I had no
clue why the pilot was asking me that question, I simply said fly safe and try not to make a speed
record on that transfer. He then said what he wanted to know was whether I wanted him to fly
low or high. I then said just fly safe and not to hit the big cables. As soon as it started to lift up I
noticed the amber lights on the dashboard were flashing. Then I heard the conversation
between the pilot and the paramedic saying what they should do as one of the copter engine
failed. They decided to take the helicopter to Swansea airport as it was dangerous to land
somewhere else. The helicopter had to land like a bit of aeroplane gliding instead of vertical
landing. There was also a fire-engine car with red light flashing waiting for us. It was a very
sunny day and the aerial views of West Wales were very beautiful (photos-bySAH)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 24


We transferred the patient to the ambulance again

and drove to Morriston hospital from the airport.
The helicopter transfer took more than one hour
than transferring the patient by ambulance.
Fortunately the patient was stable and I did not have
to do any resuscitation. If that was needed, it would
be very difficult in such a cramped and small vehicle.
I took him straight to the operation theatre and
handed him over to my colleagues. He was
immediately operated upon. He survived the
operation and when I went to see him three days
later he was fine. I asked him whether he
remembered anything like riding on the helicopter. He replied that he did not. He said that he
always wanted to ride on a helicopter. Anyway, at least he survived the big operation.
It was very exciting and nerve racking for me on both occasions. One patient survived and the
other did not. I wish that we can give better surgical care back in Burma in the near future. I
know very well I will not make any progress if I am still in Burma and will be left behind the
advances of medicine. I will be doing the same things like in Bogale. I would not have attained
required skills in my work, and what Ive learnt might have even deteriorated, had I stayed on in
Burma. How I wish that I could twin Bogale and Carmarthen!

Breaking bad news

As with the patient who died in RGH, often most of us in Burma encounter patients with cancer
or other untreatable stage of diseases. The patient was likely to be very ill or moribund. Yet we
could only tell the relatives but not to the patient directly. In UK, it is different. While we were
not equipped in our training in Burma on dealing with dying patients, in UK, one could attend
courses like breaking bad news and how to conduct oneself sensitively, and professionally in
such a situation.

So my thanks go to . . . . .
my aunt Daw Khin Moe Kyi and her friend Daw Mya Yin
and her family, who supported me throughout my stay in
Bogale. I am grateful to U Mya Than who rented part of
his house for me to live and open a clinic, and advised me
about local contacts as well as the Dos and the Donts of
Bogale, and of course those patients who came to me as
patients but ended up as friends. I would also like to
acknowledge my gratitude to the senior doctors who took
me under their wings when I arrived in UK and who
supported me throughout my stay in Carmarthen.

Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.

Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.
Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.
- H ippocrates

25 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



A few healthcare related updates from the past months
Abstracted by E-Ziwaka

Soy foods may be associated with better breast cancer outcomes

A recent research study from researchers based at the Vanderbilt

University Medical Center, Nashville, reported that Breast cancer
recurrence and overall mortality are reduced among women who eat
soya foods.
Five thous breast cancer patients from Shanghai provided information on
lifestyle 6 months after their diagnosis. They also had several subsequent
interviews. After a median 4 years' follow-up, women in the highest
quartile of soy consumption (for example, tofu, soy milk, or fresh soy
beans) showed lower hazard ratios for total mortality (0.71) and recurrence (0.68), relative to
those in the lowest quartile.
The above effect was noted in both estrogen-receptorpositive and negative tumors, and with
early- and late-stage cancers. As a result, it might be reasonable to state that until additional
higher quality studies can be undertaken in larger cohorts, "clinicians can advise their patients
with breast cancer that soy foods are safe to eat and that these foods may offer some protective
benefit for long-term health."
(XO Shu and colleagues. From JAMA Dec, 2009)

Risk for Incident Atrial Fibrillation in Patients Who Receive Antihypertensive

Drugs: a Nested CaseControl Study
Atrial fibrillation is reported less commonly among hypertensive patients taking long-term
monotherapy with ACE inhibitor, angiotensin IIreceptor blockers (ARBs), or beta-
blockersthan among those on calcium channel blockers, according to a recent report.
Researchers used a general practice database to identify some 4600 hypertensive patients with
atrial fibrillation and some 18,600 matched hypertensive controls without atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation was less common if patients were on long-term monotherapy with ACE
inhibitors (odds ratio, 0.77), ARBs (0.75), or beta-blockers (0.80), than if they were on calcium
channel blockers. The differences remained significant after adjustment for clinical risk factors
such as smoking and BMI. The authors say their focus on patients receiving monotherapy (and
thus those having presumably stable hypertension) makes generalizing their findings to severe
hypertension problematic.
(BA Schaer, and colleagues. Annals of Internal Medicine, JAN 2010)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 26


Diagnostic value of clinical features at presentation to identify serious infection in

children in developed countries: a systematic review
Many children will present to a hospital or GP every year with symptoms of an acute infection.
Whether you are a paediatrician or a general practitioner, when you are faced with such a child,
you will need to rule out serious infection or disease. In a recent study in The Lancet,
researchers conducted a systematic review of 30 studies on this subject. The studys aim was to
identify which clinical features have value in confirming or excluding the possibility of serious
infection in children. The authors identified four "important clinical features" that may help
identify serious infection in children presenting in primary care and ambulatory care settings.
These are: cyanosis; rapid breathing; poor peripheral perfusion; petechial rash.
All these are considered as strong indicators of infection (all had positive likelihood ratios of 5
or more). Also parental concern and clinical instinct rated high. Common signs, for example,
cough, vomiting, and diarrhoea had lower value. The authors concluded that their study
"highlights the nature and difficulty of the diagnostic task" in children. Personally speaking,
there might be a need to conduct similar reviews based on developing countries as this review
was based on developed countries.
(A Van Den BRUEL et al. from the Lancet, March 2010)

Step-up Therapy for Children with Uncontrolled Asthma Receiving Inhaled

According to a recent study in the USA, no single treatment regimen is considered to be the best
for children requiring asthma step-up therapy. In this randomized crossover study the
researchers examined, and compared the effectiveness of three different step-up treatments in
182 children, ages 6 to 18. Participants had mild to moderate persistent asthma that was not
controlled on low-dose inhaled corticosteroids. The children received the following three step
step up regimens for 16 weeks each, in random order:
250 g fluticasone twice daily;
The long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol twice daily, plus 100 g
fluticasone twice daily;
The leukotriene-receptor antagonist montelukast once daily, plus 100 g
fluticasone twice daily.
Most children in the study responded better to at least one regimen than to another, although
LABA step-up provided the best response most often. This was seen in about 50% of the time.
Finally, the researchers stated that the study found no strong evidence of predicting which step-
up therapy would work best in a given patient. And the authors went on to say that the
responsibility lies with the clinical professional to follow patients closely and to be sure that
they improve.
(R. F. Lemanske Jr. and others New England Journal of Medicine. March 2010).

27 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective
Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)
According to a recent report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, increased
consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked with a "very weak," but a statistically significant
reduction in overall cancer risk.
The study was based in the European countries, and nearly 480,000 adults completed food-
frequency and lifestyle questionnaires. They were followed for about 9 years. During that time,
6% were diagnosed with cancer. After adjustment for smoking, alcohol intake, and other
confounding factors, an increase in intake of 200 g/day (roughly 2 servings) of fruits and
vegetables was associated with a 4% reduction in overall cancer risk. So one might say that this
report adds to our knowledge that efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption could be
fruitful. Nonetheless, there are shortcomings with this study, as there could be bias with self-
reporting about dietary habits.
In conclusion, these intakes might lead to beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, but better
evidence is still needed.
(P Boffeta and colleagues. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. April, 2010)

Physical Activity and Risk of Stroke in Women

According to a recent report in Stroke, brisk walking for longer than two hours a week cuts the
risk of a stroke by more than a third for women. The background to this study is that, a number
of factors are linked to the risk of having a stroke, including age, family history of strokes,
diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Modifying lifestyle factors,
such as reducing alcohol consumption, staying active and eating a balanced diet, may help
reduce the risk of weight gain and, in turn, the risk factors associated with strokes. The study
was carried out by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, in the USA.
They examined the association between physical activity levels and the risk of having a stroke in
39,315 healthy American women aged over 44, who had participated in a study called the
Womens Health Study. During this current study, the participants were followed for an average
of 12 years and the links between various factors, including exercise and stroke outcomes, were
The researchers suggest that exercise is a modifiable risk factor for strokes. They concluded
that there is a tendency for leisure-time physical activity to be associated with lower risk of
stroke in women. In particular, walking was generally associated with lower risks of total,
ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke.
But a quick look at other studies assessing the link reported inconsistent results. The fact
remains that the findings of the study are difficult to interpret as they were only of borderline
significance and had some shortcomings. Therefore, more evidence is needed from better
designed studies, as well as those which include men.
(Sattelmair and colleagues, Physical Activity and Risk of Stroke in Women. March 2010)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 28


Stereotyped gender roles in Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections
By Soe Naung
IM (1), Class of 79

A round the world, sexually transmitted infections (STI) continue to be a

major cause of distress, disability and sometimes death for both sexes.
HIV/AIDS in particular, is continuing to spread, killing millions of women and
men in the prime of their lives.
In our daily practice, stereotyped gender roles in relation to sexuality,
appeared to be one of the most important factors constraining both men and
women from taking appropriate preventive measures in the HIV/AIDS
Biologically, the risk of HIV infection during unprotected vaginal intercourse is two to four
times higher for women than men. This is because women have a bigger surface area of mucosa
exposed to their partners sexual secretions during intercourse. Semen also contains a higher
concentration of HIV than vaginal secretions. Also, semen can stay in the vagina for hours after
intercourse. Women are also more likely than men to have other STIs, which can increase the
risk of HIV infection by three to four times (and in some cases five to six times). This is because
women are biologically more vulnerable, and because 50% to 80% of STIs in women have no
symptoms or symptoms that cannot easily be recognized. Even if there are symptoms,
thousands of women (in some parts of the world) may bear the pain and discomfort of STIs
because they are too ashamed to visit a doctor. It is now clear that women are inherently at
greater risk than men of contracting the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted pathogens
from a single act of intercourse with an infected partner. This biological vulnerability is too
often reinforced by socially constructed constraints on womens ability to protect their selves.
Heterosexual encounters are not simply natural and instinctive events. They are socially shaped
with certain modes of behavior seen as appropriate for each sex. Although the precise pattern
varies between societies, in most, the male is defined as the dominant actor. As a result, men are
expected to be the initiators, to be powerful and to be risktakers. Some men will find it difficult
to conform to this stereotype of masculinity and may themselves feel damaged by their failure
to match up to expectations. Others will conform but as a result may put themselves and their
partners at risk through failing to practice safer sex.
Many women find the heterosexual relationship a difficult one in which to negotiate a strategy
for their own safety. In many societies, sex continues to be defined primarily in terms of male
desire with women the relatively passive recipients of male passions. Under these
circumstances women may find it difficult to articulate their own needs and desires, and their
own pleasures may be of little concern. They will find it difficult to assert their wish for safer
sex, for their partners fidelity or for no sex at all, and as a result their own health and that of

29 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


others may be put at grave risk. This applies in particular to very young women who are often
sought out by older men because of their presumed passivity and freedom from infection.
Cultural pressures of this kind are reinforced by gender inequalities in income and wealth.
For many women, their economic and social security often sometimes even their very
survival is dependent on the support of a male partner. Sexual intercourse done in the way he
desires may well be the price that has to be paid for that continuing support. In some instances
this bargain will be explicit as social pressures in many parts of the world push women towards
selling sex for subsistence.
In other situations it may only be implicit, but the fear of abandonment can be a powerful force
especially in those societies where few roles exist for a woman outside marriage and
motherhood. In many societies, divorced or separated women and their children are even
discriminated against and in some countries, women have no legal right to refuse sex with their
In addition to economic and social insecurity, many women also have to face the threat of
physical violence if they are not sufficiently responsive to a partners desires. Under these
circumstances, many will prefer to risk unsafe sex in the face of more immediate threats to their
well-being. It is the outcome of complex interpersonal negotiations in which the social
constraints of gender inequality play a key role. It is often the poorest women who have the
fewest choices, run the most frequent risks and are most likely to become infected.
If a woman does become infected with HIV or with any other STI, gender inequalities may affect
the progression of the illness and possibly her survival chances. In those parts of the world
where AIDS is commonest, politically health care budgets are often so small that neither sex
can expect sophisticated treatment. However, funds are still spent disproportionately on men.
Even in the United States where resources are more abundant, there appears to be a greater
bias in their allocation. Moreover, women have often been excluded from clinical trials.
This exclusion of women from many research studies on HIV/AIDS has had the additional effect
of prolonging the male bias in research into the disease, so that key questions concerning
biological differences in female and male experiences of AIDS remain unanswered. Researchers
are beginning to address this lack of information but it still affects some womens ability to get
accurate prognosis and treatment and may exacerbate the uncertainties they face in making
choices about their reproductive future.
In summary, womens vulnerability to HIV/AIDS has been recognized as being due to lack of
knowledge and access to information, economic dependence and in many cases, forced sex. In
order to fully understand the gender implications, questions need to be asked such as which
gender roles of women and men need to be strengthened/modified for prevention.
As medical professionals, we need to develop an understanding of possibilities for gender
sensitive care through exploring the concepts of gender, and gender sensitivity and through
reviewing relevant knowledge about gender and health.
Gender sensitive care involves recognizing the significance of research related to social
influences on health and understanding health care in its socio-political context, and care in the
context of gender relations. Experiential learning can synthesize learning across varied learning
modes, bridging learning through experience and formal analysis. Exploring concepts, evidence

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 30


about gender, health and personal experience will all be important in the development of
gender sensitive care.

(Authors note: excerpted from a part of dissertation for MSc degree)

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
- M other T eresa

31 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



Making it Easy


W iththechangingtrendintodaysteachinginteractivelearningactivityinundergraduate
medicine, there is growing evidence that introducing new strategies can improve
understanding and active learning especially in subjects like Pathology. Referring to the
students from our college: University Kuala Lumpur Royal College of Medicine Perak, Ipoh,
Malaysia. It was exciting and students really enjoyed learning in such a way, which not only
helped them memorize new terms and vocabulary, but also improve their critical thinking ,
Introduction: The 2nd year medical
students are introduced to many new
terms and concepts in a short time frame
especially in the hematology system and
Pathology Cros sword Competition
PHASE 2 MBBS theneoplasiasectionoftheundergraduate
10th Nov, 2009 (Tuesday) pathology course. It is a challenge to
3.0 0pm to 4.00pm
Pathology Teaching Lab provide adequate practice and necessary
Organized by:
Pr of. Dr. Mazidah Ahmad Mansur (Professor and Head, Pathology Discipline)
repetition to reinforce key concepts.
Dr.Than T han Htwe (Senior Lectur er, Pathology Discipline)
D r. Shayesteh Jahanfar ( Lectur er, Public Health Discipline) Learning and assessment by crosswords
way to reinforce capturing essential
Method: Crosswords with ensured content validity built on a free internet resource were
for near transfer content and provided an
opportunity to discuss and recall essential (Practicalteachinghour),inyourTeachingLab.
concepts,criticalthinkingandcollaborationin 10minsbriefingand30minspuzzletest.
Reference: Crossword Puzzles: Active Prizewillbeawardedtothegroupswhoperform
Learning in Undergraduate Pathology and well.....1stfinishedintimeandhighestscored.
MedicalEducation.SaxenaAetal.ArchPathol Donotloseyourchancetoshowyourtalentand
LabMedVol133,Sept2009;14571462 gettheprize....

AlumniMyanmarInstitutesofMedicine|emagazine 32


AMIM / AMIMA Projects

The following are some of the other projects that
AMIMA/AMIM was involved with and we would like to state our
appreciation for all those who donated as well as those who
joined in the team efforts within the country:

1. Myanmar Burma Emergency Aids net work (post Nargis total US$ 8,000 )
2. To purchase paddy fields from HeinGyi Kyune and 2 threshers to take care
of Orphans from ZayTaVon monastery, US$ 6,000
3. Donation for drinking water pond in HeingGyi Island US$ 1,400
4. To rebuild classrooms destroyed by Nargis at HlaingTharYar, US$ 18,000
5. Dr Saw Simon Tha clinic support US$ 15,000
6. Myanmar Dental Association US$ 1,000
7. Beyond Rangoon - Big Sky Sun project, arranging free medical care to Burmese kids
needing major surgeries US$ 6,000
8. Actor Kyaw Thu's Free Funeral Society performing Nargis relief work - US$ 5,000
9. Relief activities under the umbrella of MMA team US$ 28000
10. Prior years donation for free clinic at Yay Tain village/Dr Thanda Win US$ 6,000
11. Drs Dicky Soe Win & May Ag Lin (BANCA- Biodiversity and Nature Conservation
Association) building shelters post-Nargis and digging drinking water wells, repairing
ponds AU$ 4,666
12. Shelter project in Hlaingbone Village, Lapputta (via Burma Cyclone Support Team
Alinyaung) AU$ 1,500

These are more recent projects:

1. Assistance to- Elderly of Nargis US$ 2,000
2. US$ 1,000 to the Paediatrics Department of North Okkalapa General Hospital, Institute of
Medicine 2 for purchasing an oxygen machine (AMIM magazine sales)
3. US$ 500 to distribute ORS tablets to the Nargis - affected area (Dedayae) ( AMIM magazine
4. Kyat 100,000 towards the Primary school that AMIM had rebuilt in Nargis -affected area.

33 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


The Guardian
By Thet Tun (Say-Thatepan)

O ur train, the Number 71 Prome Express, had been sickly and staggering all the way since its
departure from Yangon Central Station. Now it had stopped at Latpadan. We got off and
promptly headed for a popular roadside teashop while the railway engineers were hitting the
wheels with a hammer. We are regulars on this route and we know when train trouble is
brewing. In no time, as we suspected, an announcement was squeaking out through the
loudspeakers The train is having a safety check. The wheels are very hot and we will stop for
30 minutes.
Later, my friend and I were in animated conversation when the announcement came, Please
come back and take your seats; the train is departing soon. But it never reached our ears as a
Twante Thein Tan song was in full blast in the crowded teashop. Only when we saw the train
leaving did we realize that we were stranded in Letpadan.
As a result, we discussed an emergency plan, and changed the venue for dinner. Our plan for the
night was to have a quick dinner and phone a friend for an unplanned sleepover. The friend in
question was the Railway Medical Officer stationed in Letpadan and had a big house. So our
surprise visit would not be too much of a bother for him.
The restaurant was nearly full when we arrived.
We asked if there was see beer which comes in casks. I prefer them to the bottled beer. So we
ordered beer and I was catching up with my friend when an odd - looking group of people came
in. First, there was this giant of a man, followed by a thin and reedy looking person, two very
short dwarves and the hairiest lady in the world. They sat down as a group and ordered their
dinner. As we were watching, the dwarves broke out into a quarrel and the others had to
intervene to stop them getting physical. It was quite a sight to see these diverse humanity so
near us.
Then there was this ordinary- looking man who came in with the assorted collection of
humanity. He was dressed in a beige taik pone and appeared quite a suave guy from the way he
was speaking to his troupe. That was until he came over to our table and start talking non-stop.
We discovered from his first sentence that he was the monkey master from the circus.
Hmm Pretentious guy! Why cant he say monkey handler, or a monkey trainer? I thought.
Then he started to tell us about his monkey, Hnin Mhone and how his little monkey was the
best. She could dance. She could sing. Maybe within a few years she would soon write. Who can
Definitely he couldnt as he was getting quite tipsy now, from the beer he had had, I thought.
I was getting really frustrated with him; no, angry with him, barging like this into our
conversation. Yet he went on about how his monkey was like a little human. How she liked to
dress up as a princess. How she liked her gold -sequinned lady shoes. How she liked her red
dress that he made especially for her. Oh yes, he said, She can put the dress on herself on top
of her brassiere!
Really? my friend asked, whether in awe or amusement, I was not so sure. Still, my friend
asked for another beer for the monkey trainer. This time I elbowed him scowling, to pass on my

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 34


The master did not look towards me, but looked at my friend and went on talking about his
princess. He was teaching her maths and how to write and Oh! How bright she was. That is not
all, he went on. She is really pretty, you know, and she can use the beauty compact that I gave
her as a birthday present. She can do her own lipstick and eye-shadows. And Oh! She likes only
Maybelline! You know, shes posh! I thought I had reached my limit. That is the limit of my
patience, I mean, not the beer.
So I shouted above the din of restaurant
noises. Hey Mister, will you leave us alone as
we have urgent thing to discuss. And I added
for emphasis, Personal things! My glare, I saw the giant nudge the
which could have frozen him, went unnoticed, hairiest woman in the world and
and he just went on again to continue with his he said, Now who is looking
favourite subject; his little cheeky princess. after whom? Is the monkey
Suddenly, the whole hall went quiet. I was looking after the man or the man
sitting half -facing the doorway and looking after the monkey... Who
immediately noticed from the corner of my is the guardian now?
eye the cause of the sudden change of noise
level. It was a monkey, dressed up in a red
dress, yaw htamain and wearing sequined
lady shoes, standing in the doorway. She had full rose lipstick on, and blue eye shadow.
Oh my god, is that his princess! I gasped.
She paused in the hallway for a moment, looking around. Then she saw the guy talking to us. Her
master. She started to head straight for us. I watched silently. The talkative guy, who had his
back to her and was still in his element talking about his beloved monkey was just bringing his
beer glass to his lips when, with an angry squeal, the monkey snatched it and threw it on the
floor. The glass shattered.
The giant elbowed his friends by way of pointing to the unfolding scene.
Hnin Mhone let off another high -pitched snarl and pulled up the man, who seemed to be very
drunk now. The last thing I saw of them, the staggering duo, was of the monkey pulling and
shoving her trainer towards the exit.
I saw the giant again, nudged the hairiest woman in the world, and said, Now who is looking
after who? Is the monkey looking after the man or the man looking after the monkey? Who is
the guardian now?!
Everyone returned to their previous conversation, once the interesting spectacle was gone. I
saw the dwarves started to squabble, again.
Then I remembered my wife. I should phone her.

[Translators note- Thet Tun aka Dr Khin Maung Lay was a GP and a prolific writer. Many of his short
stories had been published in Mahay-Thi, Nwe-Ni magazines etc. Sadly, he passed away in 2009. He was
a graduate of IM1, 1979. This short story was originally from Mahay-Thi (The title was Oke-htain- thu)
and was adapted and translated by Thein Tun Ohn. Permission was granted to translate by his sister.]

35 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



By Christine Tan
IM (1), Class of 84

3rd May 2006

Meryl, a 60 year-old-lady, accompanied by her husband Lionel, was sitting quietly in front of Dr
Harrison, a geriatrician. She was here because her 82 year-old-mother noticed that Meryl was
becoming forgetful - losing keys and misplacing things. The family was extremely anxious about
this and wanted a review. However, her husband Lionel felt that this shouldnt be a problem as
Meryl could still do, without any hitch, all the accounts, shopping and housework. She recently
retired from Cumberland Newspaper where she worked as a clerk. She had been physically well.
There was no history of depression, head injuries or symptoms suggestive of a major vascular
event. On examination, she was alert and orientated but appeared extremely nervous which she
said was her nature. No focal neurological sign was detected. Testing showed no cognitive
deficits. She scored 30/30 on the MMSE. The CT scan of the brain was essentially normal and so
were the screening investigations for reversible causes of Dementia.

3rd May 2007

Within a period of 12 months, there was gradual deterioration in cognition; Meryl was now
repeating the same conversations and questions. Her husband also noticed Meryls difficulty in
counting money, She appeared increasingly apathetic when it came to household tasks. More
recently she experienced difficulty in orientation of time and space and she got lost in
unfamiliar places. However she was still able to cook and clean although at times she had
become increasinglydisorganized, often jumbling up things like clothes and kitchen utensils. She
failed to cook certain meals that she intended to. She was getting forgetful of her plans. Meryl
denied depression although lately she tended to cry more easily. Her sleep, weight and appetite
remained unaltered. There was no reported disinhibited behavior, psychotic features or major
fluctuation in her cognitive ability. On examination, Meryl appeared generally vague. She did not
offer any direct answers to questions but instead nodded in agreement with her husbands
response and often stared back blankly with bewilderment. Her cognitive screening showed
patchy cognitive deficits such as having difficulty with dates, calculations and planning. She
could not draw intersecting Pentagons. Assessment at Cognitive disorder clinic also confirmed
that Meryl has cognitive deficits which are in a pattern consistent with Alzheimers disease of
moderate severity.
Lionel, a retired primary school teacher, ever pragmatic, asked the doctors what could be done
to get Meryl back. The pros and cons of trying Cholinesterase inhibitor, Aricept were
discussed. Lionel however preferred Meryl not to be treated with medications as he felt that the

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 36


side effects could make her worse physically and mentally. Aged Care Assessment Team [ACAT]
was notified for domiciliary assessment and for possible minor home modifications for Meryl.
Discussion was also made in regards to Power of attorney as it is possible that Meryl would lose
the ability to comprehend many of the intricacies of financial management and eventually
would forget to sign her own name.

3rd May 2008

As expected, Meryls condition deteriorated considerably. She has problems with language and
needs prompting in all activities of daily living. Lionel helps her with daily baths, showering,
dressing etc. He preferred to take care of Meryl at home as long as he could and seems to be
managing her quite well with the help from Commonwealth Respite & Carelink Services which
provide transport, meal services, minor home modifications and respite.

3rd Oct 2008

Lionel attended his GP Dr Zaw Oo, sobbing uncontrollably and saying, Ive lost Meryl to the
Nursing Home. Two nights ago, Meryl had a fall from the stairs leading to the backyard while
Lionel was in the toilet and sustained nasty lacerations to her head which necessitated
immediate hospitalization. The consultant and Geriatric team from the hospital felt that Meryl
would be better off at a Nursing Home where there was 24 hour-care. Lionel came to terms after
a long discussion and said I love her so much and for a long long time I have been living in denial,
hoping that everything will go back to the way we were.

3rd May 2009

Are you there, Saya? Zaw knocked and at the same time gently pushed the door of a
ramshackle tiny house in Hlaing Thar Yar suburb. Yes, come in, a frail elderly male voice
replied. Dr Zaw Oo sensed a heavy ache and sinking feeling when he saw his dear teacher from
preclinical years sitting on a small quilt used as a mattress. The room looked as if no one had
lived in it for years, and it seemed to function as a living room as well as a bed room. Tears
welled up in his eyes when Saya accepted a bundle of kyats 5000-note from Zaw, who had been
one of his brightest students some 30 years ago. Saya looked depressed. He gazed aimlessly at
the photo of his late wife while listening to Zaw. At the age of 80, Saya faced homelessness, as he
could be evicted any time. Saya hadnt been able to pay the rent regularly. It was only last week
that Zaw and some of his friends found out about their teachers financial hardship. Hope the
fund we raised among us could pay off his debts, Zaw uttered silently.
Last month, before Zaw took his long holidays to join the reunion and Saya KaDawt Pwe, Lionel
came to see him. These days, Lionel enjoyed visiting the Nursing Home daily and looked
forward to having morning tea together with his wife. Thanks to their superannuation, they
could afford to place Meryl in a nice private Nursing Home. The sparkles in her eyes and shy
facial expression when she sees Lionel walks into the room every morning made him feel elated
and excited. Lionel said, I now feel like we are dating again.
After seeing his teachers plight, Zaws heart was filled with sadness. No superannuation.
Enormous inflation. A meagre pension. How undignified! Zaw sighed with frustration. He asked
himself, If a senior lecturers retirement life is like this, how about our ex-teachers from primary
school, middle school and high school?...He is still searching for an answer!!

37 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


A Little Daughter
By Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint
I M (1), Class of 67

T he phone rang at two in the morning.

Half asleep, I groped in the dark to pick
up the phone. I had got home from the
hospital only at eleven, late in the evening
and was dead beat when I threw myself
down on my bed and immediately fell
The shrill of the phone ringing not only
woke me up but caused me panic, as it might
mean that a busload of children with Dengue
had arrived from yet another town far from
Rangoon. But when I said, Hello! instead of
hearing the night sisters voice, I heard, Ko
Johnny, my wife is very ill and will you
come? I recognized one of my closest Photo: TT Ohn
friends voices, a fellow pediatrician, with
whom I had worked very closely for the past decade or so. His voice chased sleep from me.
I got up, and told my wife that I had to go to his house, about half an hour from where I lived. In
the early hours of the morning, there were only a few cars on the road. The street lights looked
dim because of fog. I drove fast wanting to get to my friends as soon as possible.
When I arrived, the front door was open, lights were on and my friend, with tears in his eyes,
was sitting in the small room where he would see patients in the evening.
As I walked in, he looked up, I think she has died, Ko Johnny, but please tell me I had done
enough for her. There was a packet in his hand which he opened to show me what was in it. It
was one of his handkerchiefs, in which he had wrapped up all the ampoules of medicines that he
had administered. I took the packet gently into my hands, put it back on the table and walked
into the bedroom. I saw with great sadness the body of Ma Khine, my friends wife, on her back
and not breathing. I took out my stethoscope and checked for heartbeat and breathing. I
detected none although the body was still warm. I turned to my friend and told him, Ma Khine
had passed away. I am sorry.
I sat down with my friend who described to me what must have been a massive heart attack. As
he had requested, I went through the ampoules: cardiac glycoside, frusemide, valium, morphine,
and nikethamide, all that I might have given too, if I were there. I consoled my friend, assuring
him that he had given the right medicines (please see the Note below) that would have helped if
only the heart attack be not as massive as it must have been.
While l listened to the sobbing of my friend, I looked up again into the bedroom through the
open door. In the excitement and sorrow I had failed to notice my friends youngest daughter
who slept between the parents. She was only two years of age. I looked and saw that the
commotion outside, the lights, the voices must have woken her up. She opened her eyes, and
turned towards her dead mother. Then, I saw what broke my heart and would indelibly be
etched on my mind. The little daughter pulled herself closer to her mother, lifted her mothers
blouse and started feeding at the breast of her dead mother.
Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 38

Up till then, I was trying to be stoic, had so far managed to hide my sadness at my friends loss.
The sight of the little girl sucking at her mothers breast broke me down. Tears welled up and I
was joining my friend in crying and sobbing not only for Ma Khine but also for the little
daughter and the five older children she had left behind.
It was nearly thirty years ago, I never brought up this moment ever again to my friend. A few
months back, I saw my friend now settled down in another country. We sat down to catch up
with one another. I was told that the little girl had become a doctor and would be finishing her
internship soon.
Since retirement, I had been using the internet, email and social networking sites. I came back in
touch with many friends, former students, colleagues and even former patients and children of
friends. A few weeks back I got a request to be a friend on Facebook, from someone, who also
sent an attached message. Uncle, I saw your name among Pa Pas friends on Facebook. I am
moving to New York to start my residency. We often think and talk about you and the times Pa
Pa spent with you at the Childrens Hospital. With love.
I looked at the name and as I clicked accept to be connected again with her, the image of her
suckling at her dead mothers breast came back vividly in my mind.
Memories of both the happy and sad times that I had shared with a few close friends during my
seventeen years at the Childrens Hospital rushed through my mind.
And finally, I was thinking of how proud her mother would be, if she could only know that the
little daughter that she had breastfed even at the time of death had became a doctor and was
now about to start her career as a physician.

[Note: I hope that readers would not debate on whether the right medicines had been used then
or not but I wrote as much as I could recollect of the incident.]

A mother is a mother still,

The holiest thing alive
- Samuel T aylor Coleridge (1772- 1834)

No painters brush,
Nor poets pen
In justice to her hame
Has ever reached half high enough
To write a mothers name
- Author unknown

39 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Twilight to Dawn
By Win Htin
IM (2), Class of 68

A s I awoke on my hospital bed in the Intensive

Care Unit (ICU), looking up at the ceiling in
my blurry vision, absent my usual visual aid
which I have worn since I was eleven years old, I
was unaware that I have been there for some
time already. I had been deathly sick I was told
later, but I was not sure how I had gotten there. I
felt very weak and felt very very cold, like I have
never been in my whole life that I knew before. I
was unable to speak and to gesture with my
hands and I could not move myself in the bed
restrained only by my physical inability. I did
notice that I had many intravenous lines and
apparatuses attached to me. The usual monotone of the electronic monitors was around me but,
in the beginning, I did not know where they were nor did I care. Then, I saw a nurse who asked
me if I had any pain, but since my voice was not issuing from my lips I shook my head.
The last memory before I found myself in this hapless state was that I had gone to bed feeling
very ill and sick. I was having loose bowel movements and highly concentrated urine, but not
feverish at all. I had begun to feel rather poorly for about sixty hours before and had lost my
appetite and did not want to drink any fluids either. I came to know later that my breathing had
become very labored and appeared abnormally pale and was not rousable. I do not recall any of
these events until I woke up on the ICU bed. I had been going in and out of a comatose state.
Christian was sitting on the examination bed in my office and was waiting for me to approach
him. His good looking father was sitting on a chair in the room and both of them greeted me
affably after I had introduced myself and extended my right hand. He had been referred to me
by a venerable dermatologist in town, who had called me earlier if I can see him right away. I
asked Dr. Nathan to send him over and was preparing to see him.
Dr. Chu, I have a 14 year old boy here in my office that I just saw and he has a skin growth on
his right buttock, that I think is quite diagnosticI think this needs to be removed for
pathological exam as soon as you can and he added Youll know the seriousness when you see
Sure Dr. Nathan, please send him overIll let my staff know about him and I shall let you know
what I think
They are now here in my office about three hours after my conversation with Dr. Nathan and my
nurse had Christian put on a split gown with his pants and underwear removed.
With my years of seeing skin lesions, this particular one was indeed a very classical nodular,
dark 9mm growth with tan, brown, blue-black color gradations. I did not palpate the growth
itself but instinctively examined his groin and I did not feel any enlargement of his superficial
inguinal glands. Afterwards I completed a quick palpation of his other lymph node groups and
Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 40

his abdomen and did not find any organomegaly. I concluded the physical examination with a
system review which I found to be altogether normal. What could there be anything wrong in a
previously healthy 14 year old boy.
I then turned towards his fatherand with a pensive look started to prepare him for my next
step which is an excisional biopsy to be performed under local anesthesia.
Mr. Warren, I think that Christian has a growth which both Dr. Nathan and I think should be
removed for a biopsyI am going to do this as an out-patient under local anesthesia which will
require just going to the hospital out-patient department and my nurse will arrange for that to
happen this afternoon. This procedure does not have any significant risk at all.
Doctor, what do you think it is?
I cant be sure at this stage but I think that this may represent a type of skin tumor which
should be tended to sooner rather than later I replied.
About 4 days later a pathology report was waiting for my perusal on my desk and it confirmed
our worst suspicion that it was a malignant melanoma, nodular type, Clark level IV, Breslow
thickness 10mm. These are prognostic factors which are the most advanced levels of invasion.
I spoke to the parents of the report and Christian underwent a metastatic survey which did not
reveal anything suspicious for spread. I informed them that it will require a treatment which
would be wide excision and an inguinal lymph node dissection. These were performed
successfully but the lymph nodes had micro-metastases under the microscope.
I spoke to Dr. Nathan and of course, both of us knew that the prognosis of this stage of Malignant
Melanoma in a young adolescent boy was very grave. I discussed this with the parents and
obtained consultation with other oncologists but in the absence of demonstrable widespread
disease further treatment was not recommended.
We were keeping a very close eye on the development of any new lesions and after about 8
months there were in transit lesions as well as retrograde intradermal metastases were visible
and palpable on his right thigh. He was sent for consultations at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in
Philadelphia and the recommendation was for me to proceed with removal of all the skin
bearing the lesions and to skin graft the area.
Again I performed the operation without incident and that seemed to have done the trick, but
only as far as external components are concerned. During the whole of this follow up period we
were never able to demonstrate any more skin or superficial lesions.
Chemotherapy is not very effective in metastatic malignant melanoma but Christian is now
under the care of a heme-oncologist. One day I was told that he had been admitted to the
hospital and that he had been operated on for gastric outlet obstruction and hemetemesis. The
cause was erosion from submucosal metastatic melanoma. Serosal lesions were also noted and
CT scan showed brain lesions as well.
I visited him in his hospital room and he was surrounded by his familydad, mom and his only
brother who was about two years younger than him. They were all very nice-looking people and
this was an opinion shared by everybody who had known them. But today the stress and the
concern they had for Christian made them have a different kind of look which I cannot describe
but which hung in the air and it was almost palpable. The density of this atmosphere had
changed them perceivably. I knew the gravity of his condition and so did they. He was comatose
and never was aware of our world again.

41 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


A week later, Christian passed away. It was two years after I had met him first and when he was
just 16 years old. We always say that he has found his peace, but do we really know what we are
saying and talking about?
I think that he did find peace, but it is not to be so for his family. Two years later his brother was
killed in an automobile accident and the world of the Warrens fell apart. I last heard that the
parents divorced and moved away from our town. I was very moved and felt their loss, since it
is also a loss where try as hard as I did, in the end, I was vanquished. The Buddhist belief of
impermanence, suffering and non-self, manifested its full meaning in this one experience in its
many facets.
I learned during my recovery that I was in the emergency room brought by ambulance because
my wifes assessment of my physical condition was correct. I was very ill, she knew it, I didnt,
she sought for help and the team of physicians and staff were successful in their endeavour to
save my life. I was saved. I had no blood pressure that could be measured for a period of time. I
was totally unaware of the events. All my suffering was after my salvagewhich was the most
difficult part of my illness. The recovery was very hard and required a great deal of energy,
resolution, determination and of course support from my family and lots of luck.
I have been asked what it felt like being there; did I see lights and people from the past? Tunnels
and tugs and pulls and witnessing ones own corpus from above or from the sidean out of
body experience. My answer is no & nois it because there was none or because I did not
remember, I shall never know. Maybe I will know it for real when the real event comesbut
most likely not until then. It will most likely be too late to tell others about it then also; but I
have no fear of the unknown since I know a little more than I did.
But one thing I know, Christian probably found his peace.

[Authors note - All names have been changed with the exception of the authors, to protect

Win Htin is a plastic surgeon residing in Erie, PA.

Institute of Medicine (2), Class of 68

The darkest hour is just before dawn

- T homas F uller, 1650

Google Image

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 42


A Year in the Life of Daw Htwe

By TT Ohn
IM (1), Class of 79

Ta-gu (April 2009)

I was shocked to see a lot of red stuff when I went
to toilet at the start of the month. Then I smelled
blood. Oh, I was in shock. I had to sit down inside
the toilet for awhile to understand what had
happened. That whole day, I was afraid to go to
the toilet. I must eat less of that mohinga thoke
and chillies,. that is what the doctors say.
Anyway, I recovered enough of my strength to
cook the rice and ngar hin for my son. Monday is
the one meat day for the week. So the rest of the
week, we will be contented with the vegetable
hinn and rice. Anyway, he likes my cooking a
true son of mine.
The padauks are in full bloom and their scent is
everywhere; in the market, in the streets. I put Photo: TT Ohn
some in front of my Buddha.

Last year this time, Ko Tun tried to save the life of his daughter. But she died in the rising
waters. Since she passed away we were devastated. But we decided to move on with our lives.
My Buddhist beliefs helped me a lot. My sayadaw used to say, Try to stay in the present
moment and so I tried. But I always remember my daughter and you, in my prayers and metta-
po. We have moved to Taung Okkala as I stopped working as secondary school teacher in our
old town. My mind has not been normal yet since that day. That dream about the seas, always
comes back nway, moe or saung. Later, we went to the monastery and paid our respects to the
Sayadawgyi, and served the food that I cooked for the monks, a Swun kwyay.
I am going to tell my son that I want to go to a good clinic. I cannot delay this anymore. I have
been taking my thway say regularly but my wuun is not getting better. I mean my passing of
blood. I feel faint when I get up in the mornings. It comes about every two or three days. That
dream also came back yesterday. Its again about the sea, and I was trying to swim towards
that light. I was so tired that, finally I just let the warm water embrace me. So I woke up later
on that morning, as I did not sleep well. On the first Sunday of that month, I even forgot that it
was my birthday. At new year, I planned to go to the Shwedagon for my birthday with my son,
but I have no energy. I just took the five precepts in front of the Buddha, and remember the
bayar gon daw all day.

I went to the clinic at the first week of the month. The doctor tested my wuun and gave me some
antibiotics. He also told me that I may need a special X ray where my inside will be
photographed. I remember him explaining a lot to me about something called Barium meal
43 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

and taking X rays. I thought it sounds ugly and dangerous. I think he is a specialist doctor. He
took a few minutes to listen to my chest and put his hand on my belly and he seems to know
what is wrong with me. And he said he want to see my insides with X-rays? How can they do
such thing look inside me? I feel a bit shy what will they see? I feel very anxious also.
I must talk to my son. How I miss you, Ko Tun. I am not sure my son is that knowledgeable. And
he is occupied with his wife. His wife is always grumbling. Anyway, I took the medicine from
the clinic.

Bad news! Very bad news! I have cancer. I am dead! Then I woke up, numbed from this bad
dream and I cried and cried. I must see my doctor again , and asked what is the operation like if
I had to undergo an operationand will I be OK after it. The truth is that my wuun is not
getting better. The doctor explained things the last time, but I was thinking about the money
that I need to pay to him, and forgot to pay attention to his words. Hmm.. stupid of me.
Towards the end of the month, my son looked a bit occupied, and I asked him if anything is
bothering him. Then I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that his wife is expecting a
baby! It brought tears to my eyes, tears for becoming the new grandma. This is going to be my
first grandchild and I look forward to it very much.. Ooh.. pyaw like tar!.

Yesterday, my daughter-in-law told me that the baby
is in an awkward position. My son looked distraught
and he said he will work overtime, trying to earn
some money in case they have to go to a private
hospital. I want to hold them both, and comfort them.
They look so worried. I said some words to soothe
their worries .but I am not sure if I did a good job. I
know I am strong and I must be if I want to see my
grandchild. If Ko Tun was here, he would like me to
help them raise their first child... so I will survive. I
must. I still miss you Ko Tun. It rained heavily this
week, and the fields around us were flooded. I feel
depressed and anxious all day during these rainy
days. I dont know why.

I am not really feeling bad this month. My bleeding is less. Maybe the thway say and the Korean
medicine that my son brought from Save life clinic is working. He has a lot of faith in that
clinic It is important to have faith and trust in your doctor.
For me my nature is such that I am not very trusting towards others. And all that I have read in
the papers did not help. But basically, I have faith in the doctors who trained so many years. I
pray that my yaw-ga gets better and I will see my grandchild. Oh my karma! What have I
done in my past lives to deserve this bad bleeding?!

Finally, I did the X ray. My bleeding was bad this last week, so I went to the doctor and got the X-
rays and it is confirmed. I have Oo cancer and they suspect that it might have spread to my a
thair Oh Lord, what shall I do? Ako Tun yaywhat shall I do? The cost of the operation will be
five lakhs they say. The cost of staying in the hospital probably may come to the same

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 44


amount.What shall I do? I dont have the money. I cant remember well about that night, but I
thought I cried myself to sleep, but that dream woke me up again.

My son was away, nearly the whole night yesterday. He works as a trishaw man, and he is
struggling to cope with his family, and me adding to his woes. I sat up waiting for him to return.
These days when you go on the streets the lighting is terrible, and the potholes are big in our
Taung Okkalapa and there are so many accidents. I remembered the news about a doctor
killed on the spot, while he was on a trishaw. I dont know what happened to the trishaw man,
he must have been killed also.
I overheard some quarrels between my son and his wife today. They are struggling to get the
money for the birth of their child. And I know my son wants to give some money to me. But I
wont take it as they need it more. If I had some money, I will give it to them today. It is so clear
to me where the money should go.

My niece and her husband, from Bogalay came on Sunday. She grew up on my hands, as we
used to say in our village, as her mother was poorly at that time. She always love me like her
own mother. Their visit gave me much joy and much need support. Their kind nature shines
through their faces. They listen to my health problems and tried to persuade me to go for the
operation. They then sat down in front of me and kandaw, paying their respects to meand
give me a shwe lat-kaut to use it for my operation. I said sadu, sadu, sadu and tears rolled down
my face. Later we went to the nearby monastery and we had five precepts and took sabbath.
The sayadaws words kept ringing in my ears- life is suffering. The main message of his talk is to
prepare ourselves for death, which is inevitable.
I heard a story about a 15 year old girl dying after she had an operation in a big hospital in
Yangon. Some say she had thway lun toke kway. Everyone was shocked about this news. No
one came out to explain from the hospital .at least not in the journals, my friend said. My
impression is that, even if you had money, you cannot run away from your fate, your karma.
Anyway, it is so simple when you think like daughter in law is carrying a baby, a new
life and me ...I am carrying death.

The women in the market today told me about this
bama say saya who is an expert in this cancer. So,
without telling my son, I went to see the say
sayagyi. He charged me quite a lot for half a hour
of examining and his medicine. He looked at my
tongue and eyes and even took my blood pressure.
Later when I came back, I had a shouting match
with my son, about the operation. He wants me to
decide quickly for the operation. Also he is looking
after his wife who is a bit poorly the last few days.
So, a bit short tempered like me. I was angry with
him for a moment but remembered that he was
worried for me.

I dont even have the energy to cook these past few days. Today my wuun is bright red. I have
lost weight. The Bamasay seems to make it worse. So I have decided. I will leave the little

45 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


shwe lat-kauk for my grandchild. I have been hoarding this for my rainy day. I decided that my
son can use it for whatever he wishes for my grandchild. I dont want to see my son working so
hard day and night.

I decided what I had been thinking all along. I bought Polo -the rat poison- on the pretext that I
have lots of rats under my house floor. I do have them. So it was not a lie. But this time it is not
for them. I have cooked a delicious arloo hin that my son likes. I will pray for the last time. I
will pay in samsara, but I hope my grandchild will forgive me. Tonight, I will do the deed.

Tagu La-san
Yesterday, the day that I decided to end everything, my son and I had a late night talk. He told
me about their little daughter, my grand-daughter. He told me that she is growing well inside
my daughter-in-law. How wonderful! He was so excited. Me too. It gives me strength. And wait.
listen to this, her chosen name is Htwe Ei San. Htwe in front of her name, is in honour of his
grandmathats me. So there I was, thinking about my grandchild, and with the picture of
myself holding Htwe Ei, cuddling her to my bosom well, the Polo never had a chance that
So I will go to the hospital tomorrow and see if they can do anything. If operation is still
possible I pray and I hope that is possible, then we will go for the operation. And if not if not,
I dont know.
But I can see the little plastic bag containing the Polo. It is still waiting for me.

Ko Tun and his daughter passed away on 2nd May 2008. Daw Htwe is one of those who suffered
from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of the cyclone. Repeated,
disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of the stressful experience, dreams, avoidance and
sad thoughts are part of the spectrum of symptoms for PTSD.

[Authors note-Daw Htwe is a fictional character]

A-thair - Liver
Bayar-gondaw - the 9 Attributes of Buddha
La-pyay-nay - Full moon day
Oo cancer - Bowel cancer
Nway - Summer
Moe - Monsoon/Rainy season
Saung - Winter or cold season
Shwe lat kaut - Gold bracelet
Swun Kwyay - Food offering to monks
Thway lun toke kway - Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
Thway say - Traditional medicine
Wuun - motion

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 46


Maung Aung Thar

By Hla Yee Yee
IM (1), Class of 68

A phrase we learnt in kindergarten jingle in my mind whenever I think of Maung Aung Thar:
mattat yat loh lan hmar ngo (standing on the road, crying). At the same time, I remember a
novel of that name (in Burmese) published some time back.
Maung Aung Thar is a young man in his early twenties, who was in that situation. He was
dropped by a roadside in Kuala Lumpur, with his passport, a phone number and eighty cents to
call somebody who would help him get back to Myanmar.

Four weeks ago

Maung Aung Thar felt on top of the world. The future was opening its doors to him, a greenhorn
from the village. He had persuaded his parents to borrow money from the village money-
lender, to raise the fourteen lakhs kyats to give to the agent who would get him a job in
Malaysia. He had described a rosy future, with him bringing back a fortune; visions of buying a
flat in the outskirts of Yangon spurred them on, and the parents willingly agreed to borrow the
money albeit at an exorbitantly high interest rate. His aspirations were not unique; many of his
friends had already gone ahead, and it was a huge excitement in the village for parents to
receive photographs and phone calls from my son in Malaysia!. These pictures showed
smiling young men in jeans posing with the Twin Towers or the archway at Petaling Street
(China Town) in the background. Parents would proudly say, This is my son in naing-gan-
gyar!. So many parents in their village aspired for a chance to say these words!
Now they were at the village monastery to get the blessing of the Sayadaw.The Sayadawgave
them the Five Precepts and also his call - card which listed the telephone numbers of some
Burmese in Malaysia. Aung Thar, dont worry about anything. If you get into trouble, ask these
people for help. These are my disciples and have promised to help our boys.

Ten days ago

His heart was beating very rapidly and he felt a bit tired, but this was a glowing kind of
tiredness. After all, the world was opening up to him. He would be earning lots of money;
around two lakhs a month, mind you! And he could send back 75% each month, paying back the
money they had borrowed, at an interest rate of twenty five per cent.
The personnel at check-in and Immigration at Yangon International Airport treated them like
dirt, he thought. But his excitement was so great that he felt he could forgive anybody anything!
They must see us as defectors. Well, I cannot earn even a fraction of what they earn; they
should understand! But let it be..Ill soon leave all this behind!. The man at the counter
continued scolding them for not having the forms ready; the woman glared at them.
He had never been on a plane before; not even on domestic flights, and the experience was
strange and scary. Fortunately, there were ten of them on this flight. At least they could give
each other moral support. He was awed by the other passengers who seemed to be experienced
travellers; they looked so bored, and did not even seem to notice the Myanmar youth absorbing
every detail of their surroundings. The heavily- made up stewardesses looked down their noses

47 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


as they served the food and drinks. Aung Thar had no idea how to fill the little white card that
they were supposed to fill . Luckily, a Myanmar doctor who had a seat next to one of them
helped them all. He thanked his guardian nats for looking after him.
Landing at the KL International Airport was such a thrill! As they followed the Myanmar doctor,
clutching their overnight bags, he felt as if he was walking into a new world of glass and chrome.
At Immigration, the doctor parted company with them and they were herded together near the
counter as the agent cleared their papers. Three of his fellow passengers were detained as their
agent had not come for them. They would spend the night at the detention centre until the agent
came. Again, Aung Thar thanked his guardian nats that his agent had been on hand.

Three days ago

He had been working at the factory for almost a week. It was tough, carrying heavy furniture up
and down, and his back hurt. He had also started coughing again, and felt weak. To make
matters worse, their sleeping quarters were cramped, and the food was insufficient for young
people who have huge appetites. The agent had kept their passports to prevent them job-
hopping. Others who had arrived earlier told him they had not seen their wages until they had
worked a few months; and that they were not given the amount promised. Aung Thars spirits
were already sinking. Have I made a mistake?! was a thought that crept into his mind a dozen
times a day.
Aung Thar! They want you in the office!, a co-worker informed him, He had a premonition of a
calamity about to befall him.True enough, the news he was given was not good. The chest x-
ray taken in Malaysia as a recheck had shown that he had fluid in the lungs. The truth was that
he had had tuberculosis and the x-ray taken in Yangon had showed that; but the agent in Yangon
did the necessary and acquired a medical certificate which gave him a clean bill of health. We
cannot continue employing you. You will need to go back to Myanmar. Our agent will drop you
in KL. Call this number; heres eighty cents to do that. And heres your passport. And that was
that! He was indeed left by the roadside in Kuala Lumpur......mattat yat loh lan hmar ngo

At the damayone
The offering of yellow robes was over and the monks had retired to their room after delivering
the sermon. The lay people were chatting and having lunch. I noticed a young man sitting alone
in the corner. I asked if he had had lunch, and he started telling me his story, with tears in his
"Aunty, please help me! I called the number on the slip of paper, but the person answering was
speaking Chinese and English". And he could not speak either! He was standing by the roadside,
very scared, with nowhere to go to, when another Myanmar youth asked him, Shwe lar?. He
said yes, and asked if the other person knew any of the names on the card that the Sayadaw
had given. Luckily, one of the names belonged to a regular visitor at the damayone, and by
another stroke of luck, there was a kathina ceremony at the damayone that day. He was brought
to the damayone and the person in question was indeed present. I talked to him, but he said
there was nothing he could do. Dead end!
Aung Thar had the number of the agent in Yangon. He was not happy that I had traced him, and
complained that he had lost two cars already because these boys fix up their MCs and go; and
when they fail their medicals, I have to bring them back!. I told him I understood, but inwardly,
I held him responsible; how could these young people fix things by themselves? Why was he
shirking his responsibility?! He told me he had gone back from KL only the day before, and had
left RM 700 for Aung Thars fare home, with another person. I called that number, but he was on
his way back to his hometown for the long holiday break; he promised to be back by the

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 48


That posed another problem. Where would we keep Aung Thar over the weekend? We might
have taken him home with us, but we were also going to Penang the next day. After discussing
with Minn Thike Htun, the damayone keeper and the person Aung Thar had initially looked for
(who had by now joined us in our crusade), we agreed that Aung Thar should stay at the
damayone for a few days (the damayone does not normally accept lay people overnight, but they
bent the rules this once) . I left RM 50 for Aung Thars meals and we left for Penang, for the
holiday break. We also agreed that Minn Thike Htun would take Aung Thar to the Embassy if the
man with the money did not turn up.
When I called from Penang on Monday, I was relieved to be told that the RM 700 had been
delivered, "But, Sayama, the air fare is now 800, Minn Thike Htun told me. I said I would add
on the RM 100 when we returned..

At the damayone, Tuesday

When we got back, we went straight to
the damayone to give the RM 100. We
were told Aung Thar had been given RM
150 by the Sayadaw of the monastery
that the yellow robes were sent to, and
another RM 200 had been given by an
interviewer who had heard about him
and had come to get his story.
He looked at me in gratitude, with a shy
smile hovering on his lips as I told him,
Mg Aung Thar, get proper treatment at
home, and come again. You are still
young. Dont lose hope! He nodded,
saying Thank you! He did not ask who
I was, and I never told him my name. Google Image

They told me he looked excited, clad in a new suit, going back homeafter all, theres no place
like home.But I feel sorry for the struggles awaiting him, and often wonder how he is doing.

[This is a true story. Some details are woven in from the experiences of other general workers in
Malaysia, but the basic facts about Aung Thar are real]

The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever;

but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and
laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light
amid the thorns.
- G Satayana

49 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


A X-mas Story
By Lavender
IM (1), Class of 79

Its Christmas time again and this is
our third year far away from
friends and loved ones from our
motherland. I feel lonely, missing
my dear ones especially since it is
Christmas time. However, its also
good to experience different places
with different cultures and customs
in celebrating the birth of Jesus
Christ. I still remember carol
singing by the little ones in our
just- cool winter nights in Burma.
Just a few days back, I made a call
to my family, and heres a nice story
about a poor family that I would
like to share.

A Christmas Porridge Party for the Poorest of the Poor

Tony & Kathy are a couple living near our house in Yangon. Weve been friends for many years.
Tony is a railroad labourer with a very low income. They live in small quarters (120 sq ft rooms)
near the railway station, provided for the workers by the Railways. Tony works in maintenance
of the railroads and as his salary is not enough for the family (two sons and a daughter), he has
to do all sorts of odd jobs out of office hours to earn extra. Kathy is also supporting the family
not simply as a housewife but also by helping in house-to-house hand-washing of clothes,
sometimes including big heavy mosquito nets. The couple is always ready to help everyone by
any means they can, like cutting trees, cleaning drains, carpentry work, plumbing, cutting grass,
house cleaning and repainting. When the kids were small, they always accompanied their
parents from house to house, helping them. The distinctive feature of this family is that they are
always ready to help others. They are true believers, walking faithfully in Gods way though
their life is hard and tough.
As the children had grown up without finishing secondary school due to financial constraints,
the eldest daughter worked as a clerk in the railway office and the two sons as helper-
mechanics at one of the car workshops. Every Sunday, we see them going to church together,
neatly dressed and with charming smiles, though most of the time they were in torn clothes,
dirty with dust and engine oil.
One day, I came to diagnose Tony with diabetes complicated by tuberculosis. I asked him to take
free medication at my clinic, but he refused. He lost a great deal of weight and was becoming
malnourished. I explained the complications and consequences of not taking proper medication.
Then only did he accept my offer to treat him.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 50


Once, when I worked as an in-house doctor at Yangon Traders Hotel, I helped the elder boy to
get a job as housekeeping staff in the hotel. I was warmed by the smile and satisfaction on the
fathers face. He was really happy and thankful to see his son working in the shade and having
regular meals provided by the hotel; no more hard work under the hot sun and no more dirty
and messy helper- mechanic job!

After a few years, Tony was able to send his two sons to Malaysia, to work in a furniture factory
with much better salary, earning RM 600 to 800 a month; that was around 200 US dollars. The
two boys could save their earnings in the first few months and sent the remittance to their
parents (actually, they still had to repay their loan money to the agent for the boys to come out
and work overseas). When I went back to Burma, I saw the smile and tears in the fathers face
through the wrinkles etched on his face and the signs of hardship.

Unfortunately, one day there was an outbreak of fire in the factory compound and the place
where the two boys stayed was burnt down. They lost all their savings and clothing. But, the
employer was kind and paid compensation and rebuilt new lodgings.

That was almost a year ago and now the parents have finished paying back their loan money.
Some days ago, I called my sisters to wish them Christmas greetings and I came to know from
them that Tony and Kathy are planning to have a big Pot Bless Porridge Christmas party for
their neighbour railroad workers and their families, as thanksgiving for their two sons getting
jobs overseas.
I feel so happy and want to share
this true story, a wonderful
testimony of true believers
walking faithfully in the way of
the Lord without any complaint
and grumble. They are poor but
live a spiritually bountiful life.
Many people around us are in
poverty. We do not need to look
far beyond Rangoon. Christmas is
a time to share and a time to pray
for the needy. Though they
themselves are poor, this family
has truly done a great work in
Google Image Christmas time: a lesson for me to
ask to myself, How about me?

NB. The names of the couple are their real names. One of the sons (in a yellow t shirt) is seen in
the picture, with the authors family.

51 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


An Embezzlement
By Khin Maung Gyi
IM (1), Class of 66

Prologue: This took place in the 1950s when open market policy was flourishing in Burma.

Ko Htoo
Ko Htoo is a man of thirty plus years, who is still an available bachelor. He is living with his
widowed mother after his fathers death, as he is the only offspring in the family. Because of love
for his mother, he remained single though his mother wishes to get him married in no time. He
works as a clerk with the Housing Department after he was matriculated.
He is an avid reader of detective stories and looks things in a peculiar way which often makes
his friends uncomfortable.
Tonight, after watching a late night thriller movie, he is walking home thinking about the brave
acts of his favorite actor and the scenes. His watchful eyes noted the shadows which changes in
size according to the distance from the lamp posts. Sometimes the sound of the fast moving
vehicles distracts his attention. Often the lazy bark of the stray dogs fills the air.
When he reached one of the intersections, his eyes caught a sudden dim light coming from one
of back rooms of the big store famous for ladies fashion wear. His curiosity was aroused. He
thought why should such a room has lights on in the middle of the night?
He went to the back of the building to find out what was happening. Because of the blinds, he
could not see much. His trained ears then heard some muffling sounds coming from one side of
the room. Later, through a large show case mirror, the image of a person of average built coming
in with a brief case. He wore dark glasses with shoes with distinctly high soles. He was seen to
start taking bundles of cash from the drawers which were then stuffed into the brief case. Next
he wrote something on a pad placed on the table.

U Mya
U Mya is an accountant of the famous ladies wear fashion house. He is in his late forties living a
comfortable life. He was married for fifteen years but without any children. However, he uses
his spare time doing all sorts of bad things - from drinking to horse racing to gambling. All his
earnings were thus spent foolishly and always had to borrow from his friends and colleagues to
fulfill his domestic needs. Like all gamblers he was always thinking of the day when his bank
accounts will be showing with tons and tons of prize money.
Last week, one of his betting friends gave a sure-tip on one of the horses which would win the
cup. He gambled all what he had for this race. Unfortunately, it came out second best and he lost
all that he had plus a large sum borrowed from his friends. He now had no choice but to take out
the firm money which was kept with him to introduce new lines by the management.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 52


He came to the company tonight knowing that watchman Maung Than was having stomach
trouble and has taken off sick. He had been preparing days ahead for this type of activity buying
all the paraphernalia needed. He even practiced to write his right hand as he had been a south-
paw through generations. Now his new hand writing is perfected.
He does not even go to deposit the monies these days as he is urgently in need to repay his debt.
To convince the management, he signed the cheque book to indicate that the monies will be
deposited without any hitch.
He smiled with great satisfaction knowing that the mission had been successfully accomplished
and switched off the lights.
U Mya was caught during a raid to a gambling den after he absconded from work for a week.
Ko Htoo was satisfied as he rightly reported a crime where a person with a disguise can be
brought to justice within a few days.
But then, U Mya after confession to the police was fuming inwardly.
How the hell did he know I was LEFT handed???

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your
life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
- R abbi H arold K ushner

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace
with others.
- Peace Pilgrim

Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become
- Jamie Paolinetti

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop
- Albert E instein

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
- O scar Wilde

53 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Now that Im a Grandmother

By Zeyarthu
Kuala Lumpur, 11th May 2007

When my kids first spoke the word May May *

The world was transformed in every way;
Life became so precious; so worth living.
Family meant loving, and absolute giving
Suu Suus first words; her first steps taken,
The Mother Instinct so sweetly awakened
Win Hteins arms round my neck at night
Made the world heavenly and so right!!
Then came my last as Aye Myat Thu;
The protective instinct, in us grew
Our littlest baby; our lifebloods core
Was what we both felt we lived for.

All too soon we realized that children grow

And frequent partings we came to know
Home and airport, farewell lunches,
Hurried meals, and sometimes brunches
Convos, weddings the children now gone
But our lives (though half-empty) carried on.
The Empty Nest filled with friends who come and go..
The meaning of dukkha** we came to know..
Now that Im a grandma, I can touch again
A babys cheek; hear feet patter, like soft rain
Tis amazing how much love the heart can store!
A mother feels fulfilled; a grandmother, more!

* Mother in Burmese ** suffering

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 54


Reflection of a Cancer Survivor

By Wynn Aung

I have been there, not once but twice

Enough to open my eyes, to appreciate the gift of life

Emerging from winter's darkness into the meadow where birds sing
Wonderful to see nature's green, blissful to feel the fresh spring

It is a blessing just to live a moment without pain

Breathe the air and sleep the dream normally again

They say that the best things in life are free

Gazing at sunset's paradise, bathing in the teasing breeze

Feasting on the beauty of parading flowers

Indulging in their sweet perfume and magical colours

A heartening smile of an innocent young child

Bees buzzing for pollen, butterflies dancing in the wild

Cotton ball clouds floating in sea blue sky

Silvery full moon and stars twinkling up high

Mountains, valleys, rivers and seas

Lakes, waterfalls, plantations and trees

So, slow down, stop, take time to look around

Enjoy and cherish before the final whistle sound

Dr Aung is a consultant pathologist working in UK. Before he came to the UK, he worked in the Pathology
Department, IM (1) in Yangon. He is a graduate of IM1, 1979. [The wintry photo was courtesy of Dr Aung]

55 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


I Cannot Change the World!

By Zeyarthu
12th February 2010 (Pyidaungsu Nay)

They say the worlds in a sorry state.

And ask, What can you do?!

YetCan I change the course of fate?

I know I cannot; can you?

The worlds too big; the problems many;

Google Image Some are natural, and some man-made.

Solutions to end them? I cant find any,

As hope dwindles fast. to fade!

I cannot change the world!

I cannot turn the tide

Of torture inflicted, insults hurled

At humanity, worldwide!

But I can change some things, I know.

My environments in my making.

I can spread love and make love grow,

And ease a heart thats aching.

Picture by Shak Lim Ho
Class of 1967, IM (1)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 56


Deja Vu, Dad and Daffodils

By Danubyu-thar

A long time ago my father used to say

"Come listen to the best, poets and more

So I come to learn about daffodils

Listening to the radio... and

Later we talk about life, family. amity

Maybe even about... equanimity

Now and then, when I blog and text

Flickr, twitter and natter

Listen to life's ceaseless chatter

I am transported, in solitude

To my youth, soulful mood,

And found my father smiling, still

Telling me to dance with the daffodils!

57 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


A Poetic Blog from AMIM:

Mother Moon
By Wynn Aung

T oday is the full moon day of Tha-din-tyut.

A perfect moon hangs in the clear night
sky, flooding my room with cool, soft radiance.
I am always fascinated by the full moon and
often wrap myself with blankets for moon
gazing on clear, cold nights. If you think about
it, there are only twelve chances a year to
appreciate the full moon. Enter the unreliable
British weather, and you have fewer
opportunities. Many poets and writers over
time have compared the full moon with a motherly figure, praising its virtues in parallel to
maternal love. I can gaze at the full moon for a long time without blinking, like a baby looking up
at mum. Despite thousands of miles away, I can intimately feel the tender touch and the sense of
tranquillity, peace and security that it bestows on me. Like a child in mothers secure cradle.
Bathing in the gentle glow of ambient moonlight I feel like an unborn baby swimming in the
maternal womb.
On this full moon day of Tha-din-tyut, Buddha descended back to earth from the celestial place
where, for three months, he had preached and explained the highly complex Abhidhamma to
the celestial being who was his mother in previous life. His mother, Mayadevi, died seven days
after giving birth to Buddha and became the celestial being. To emphasise the infinite love and
immense dedication of all mothers, Buddha said that even he could pay back only one, not two,
breast-milk-worth of his mothers priceless devotion. Noh-ta-lone-boh-thar-kyai-aung-kyay-zu-
sut-naing. How much we owe our mothers is beyond comprehension.
Tomorrow will be my mothers 90th birthday. Despite her failing memory mum always
remembers her birthday, Thadintyut-la-pye-kyaw-ta-yet. Whenever I visited her in Burma she
always told me about her first pregnancy that ended in abortion and post partum haemorrhage.
She told me how she was transported from Pago, where dad was working, to Rangoon
Jimikhanna Hospital in the back of a saloon car driven by her young husband, bleeding all the
way. She told me how people had said that she was very lucky to survive. Since then, mother
had survived four more abortions, three heart attacks, two minor strokes and one procedure-
horribly-went-wrong with sub-sequent repair surgery.
During one of her many hospital stays, I sat by her bedside while she slept, feeling strangely
secure in her mere presence, all my fears and worries washed away. Mother always finished her
abortion story with the same sentence, I had always felt that I would survive. That statement,
she always made as if referring to the present, than reminiscing the past. Perhaps I shall learn a
lesson from her.
(My fond tribute to Mum and
all mothers near and far)

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

- Abraham L incoln

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 58


Humour: The Best Medicine

A cardiac specialist died

A popular cardiac specialist died and at his funeral the coffin was placed in front of a huge mock up
of a heart made up of flowers. When the pastor finished with the sermon and eulogy, and after
everyone said their good-byes, the heart opened, the coffin rolled inside and the heart closed. There
were sobs and tears.

Just then one of the mourners burst into laughter.

The guy next to him asked: Why are you laughing?

I was thinking about my own funeral the man replied.

Whats so funny about that?

Im a gynecologist.

Then the proctologist nearby fainted.

You see, I seem to be getting forgetful

The man looked a little worried when the doctor came in to administer his annual physical, so the
first thing the doctor did was to ask whether anything was troubling him.
Well, to tell the truth, Doc, yes, answered the patient.
You see, I seem to be getting forgetful. Im never sure I can remember where I put the car, or whether I
answered a letter, or where Im going, or what it is Im going to do once I get there if I get there. So, I
really need your help. What the Hell can I do?
The doctor mused for a moment, then answered in his kindest tone, Pay me in advance.
VN:F [1.8.8_1072]

Lecturing the medical students on the damage that alcohol can do

A Professor of Medicine, a man well known for his earnest and oft-proclaimed Temperance views,
was (yet again) lecturing the medical students on the damage that alcohol can do. To demonstrate
its effect on the nervous system, he took a worm and dropped it into a glass of gin & tonic. The worm
wriggled around for a few minutes before finally giving a few convulsive twitches and dying.
And can we deduce anything from that? asked the Professor with the triumphant air implying that
only obvious conclusion could be drawn.
Yes, came a voice from the back, if youve got worms, drink alcohol
VN:F [1.8.8_1072]

ROUTE - 119

Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State Police Officer sees a car
puttering along at 22 MPH. He thinks to himself, this driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!" So he
turns on his lights and pulls the driver over. Approaching the car, he notices that there are five old
ladies -- two in the front seat and three in the back -- wide eyed and white as ghosts. The driver,
obviously confused, says to him, Officer, I don't understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit!

What seems to be the problem? "Ma'am," the officer replies, you weren't speeding, but you should
know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers.

59 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly... Twenty-two miles an hour!
"The old woman says a bit proudly. The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to
her that 22" was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and
thanked the officer for pointing out her error. But before I let you go, Ma'am, I have to ask... Is
everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken and they haven't muttered a single peep
this whole time, "the officer asks. Oh, they'll be all right in a minute officer. We just got off Route

Now this part is about the advantages or is it disadvantages of getting old. .

It's hard to be nostalgic when you can't remember anything.

Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the
You know you're into middle age when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to
A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of by
the police.
Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
Statistics show that at the age of seventy, there are five women to every man. Isn't that the
darnedest time for a guy to get those odds?
You're getting old when you wake up with that morning-after feeling, and you didn't do
anything the night before.
At my age, "getting a little action" means I don't need to take a laxative.
The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through Congress.
You're getting old when getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.
You're getting old when you're sitting in a rocker and you can't get it started.
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.
Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread


Count your age with friends but not with years

- Anonymous

Plant a seed of friendship; reap a bouquet of happiness.

- L ois L . K aufman

"I keep my friends as misers do their treasure, because, of all the things
granted us by wisdom, none is greater or better than friendship."
- Pietro Aretino (1537)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 60


Oh tell me why?
By Jennifer Chu
IM (2), Class of 71

1. Why do you always want to look at
1. Why do you keep
yourself in the mirror when you see one
on driving fast if all
or into every mirror when you see more
you want to do is to
than one?
get into my lane
while I am trying to 2. Why do some mirrors make you look so
get in your lane? good and some make you look so ugly?
2. Why is it that every 3. Break a mirror and have 7 years bad
white car that pulls luck, why 7? Is not 7 a lucky number?
up behind me
4. Why did you not know that magnifying
reminds me of a
mirrors that show all your facial flaws
police car?
are precursors of HDTV?
3. Why do I feel guilty when I went
through just a bit of the red light yet the
car behind me went through the Mirroring
stationary red light without qualms? 1. Why do you always want to stretch your
4. Why did you wait so long to make this neck when you see someone else doing
turn until my car gets close to you? it?
2. Why do you always want to check your
watch when you see somebody else
More driving
doing the same?
1. Why do you want to duck your head
3. Why do you always want to yawn when
when driving under a bridge?
you see somebody else yawning?
2. Why do you want to swerve your body
4. Why do you always want to laugh when
as your car turns a corner fast?
others are laughing?
3. Why is there a pothole as you begin to
speed up?
4. When did keep your eyes on the road
literally meant "look out for potholes"? 1. Why is it that just when I became good
at matching my top and bottom
outerwear so well in Burma that I come
here to find out that it is called pyjamas?
2. If yinphone eingyis demise and the
appearance of long blouses to wear with
the longyi was to cover protuberant
stomachs why did they not think of that
fashion when we were in Burma? It
would have saved much embarrassment

61 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


every time one is looked at from Weight

1. Why is weight so hard to shed and yet
3. Best barometer of youth is ability to fit so easy to put on?
into clothes you wore 30 years ago?
2. Why do you always want to weigh
4. Dont leave home without it should be yourself without shoes on?
for clothes, no? 3. Why get so upset when the weighing
machine youre now on does not give
the same result as the one you are used
4. Why drink diet soda and yet eat fries
and cakes?

Air Travel
1. Why be so eager to stand in line to
board when you know you know there
is more standing in line in the loading
zone? Thoughts
2. If you are going to get a pat down, why 1. Why do they roam?
can you not have a choice of where you
2. Why do you always think you have left
want it and how long you want it for?
something behind on the way to the
3. Why stand up to deplane when all who airport?
are standing are not moving at all and
3. Why are some thoughts dull and some
you are hunched under the overhead
so vivid?
4. Why are some thoughts so quiet, and
4. Why is it that when you have only 15
some so noisy
minutes for catching the plane for the
second half of your trip that your gate is
in the next terminal needing a shuttle
train but when you have 90 minutes to
spare that your gate is only 10 feet

1. Why you cannot read smaller print?
Food 2. Why you cannot remember the other
1. Why is it that you always want to eat persons name?
everything you see at a buffet? 3. Why you cannot remember your own
2. Why is it that if you believe that eating name?
greens will make you lose weight, did 4. Why remembering is not an issue
you forget why elephants are so large? anymore?
3. Did airlines stop giving us food on board
because we complain of airline food?
Oh tell me why? Oh tell me why?
4. Why is it that putting salt and
lime/lemon makes food taste so much (Planning to make the world pain free)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 62

AMIM 2010 HOW TO . . . .

How to lead a Successful Life

and Play Golf
By Richard Huang
IM (1), Class of 93

People say that life is a journey. It is true for everybody. But what makes it different is that some
people are walking, some are riding a bike while some are in their private cars. But how would
you quantify or measure a successful life, the answer will be your choice. It depends on how
much success you want in your life. In other words, how much you want out of your life. If your
aim of your life is higher, you have to spend or invest more effort.
Okay. Let us assume that you have your goal, you have fixed your target but you cant find a way
to get there yet; here are some tips that might help you. Everybody wants something good to
happen in their lives. But most of the time it is just a dream and it wont come true until you
decide to pursue the goal. The very first step is the most important step. The motto after the first
step is to never stop what you have started. When you have made up your mind and your goal is
not unrealistic, the only thing left is to make it happen.
This is all about the path. Everybody has to find their own
path in their lives. It starts during our childhood. It starts
from learning. When we are young we dont know what we
are learning. It goes on until high school. Some students
choose their own path before graduation from high school,
but some do not. Whether we like it or not we have to choose
our path after high school. Some go to college or higher
education and some decide to start their career. Whatever
you choose, it becomes the path of your life. Some of them
are straight and clear of trouble but most of them are not.
Some of them are wasting their lives away and dont have a
clue what they want from their lives. If you think your life is worth living in a practical way, the
following tips may be handy.
1. Start early. That is common sense. If you start early, the possibility is that you might get
there early.
2. Prepare for the journey. Whenever you go for a long journey, you dont just start off
without preparation. You want to include your essential items in your luggage. If you
dont know what to prepare, think about the whole journey. Starting from day one to the
end, you should consider every possible eventuality and make a list of the necessary
items. This is a big segment and in real life it coincides with your learning process. It
might never be completed but try to fill up your tank as much as possible.
3. Make a first step. If you never make a first step, you will never get to your destination.
We have a lot of proverbs that I dont need to say here.

63 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

HOW TO . . . . AMIM 2010

4. Keep going. Even though your progress might be slow, if you keep going, you will beat
the one who has stopped altogether. We have learned about a race between a rabbit and
a tortoise since childhood.
5. Practice or rehearse when it is necessary. We know that practice makes perfect. Does
it make sense?
6. Go extra miles than you need. It adds more sense to the above.
7. Pay attention to detail. I can assure you that the one who is thorough will win the race.
I shall go into detail about it later.
8. Break down your goal or your journey into bite sizes when you cant take it all. That
is quite similar to the above fact. You have to understand that you cant jump very far or
very high in one step. But you can walk up a stair higher than your jump can reach or you
can walk further than your jump can go. It includes the realistic assessment of your
abilities and acceptance of your limitations.
9. Never do reckless things. It is just a reminder of an obvious fact.
10. Love yourself and dont destroy your body. A healthy life is the basis of everything. A
healthy mind is invaluable too.
11. Dont take unnecessary risks. But when you need to, sometimes No guts, no glory can
be the truth too. I would say it is a last resort for a special situation. If you want to take a
chance, you need to be prepared to pay the price. Sometimes the price can be quite dear.
12. Learn whatever you can but practice considerately and righteously. Understanding
is always good. Detailed knowledge is better. Grasping the true facts is precious.
Commanding the truth is priceless.
13. Always formulate an idea of cause and effect relationship. So you can avoid
repeating errors. In other words, cultivate an analytical mind. Try to answer the question
of Why? if you can.
14. If you come across a problem, try to solve in two or three different ways. Dont
underestimate the bystanders views.
15. Make alliance with good people. Treat people sincerely, so you can keep long term
relationships. You can read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
for more details. Avoid making enemies unnecessarily. But stay away from wicked
people or trouble-makers.
16. Find out your strength and weakness. Enhance your strength and improve your
These tips are not exclusive. You can add more tips if you find more things useful.
Lets say you want to play golf and you are just a new kid on the block. After you read about golf
and watched video instructions from well known PGA players or instructors, you will get some
basic ideas about golf such as scoring, terms and some basic rules, address, grip, swing,
Then you go to the range and try to hit the golf balls with your second hand clubs or cheap set
that you bought from Ebay. You found out that every time you hit the ball, it is going everywhere
except straight or you dont hit the ball at all. Or once in a while the ball goes straight but you
thought you can hit the ball further. You scratch your head and then you decided you want to be
a good player. You watched more golf instruction videos and read more golf books. You found
out that your swing is about the same the next day.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 64

AMIM 2010 HOW TO . . . .

Then you find a real semi-pro instructor and start to learn the
swing properly. He will ask you to hit the ball the way he hits.
He will show you a different slow motion video of how Tiger
Woods swing is all about. Or maybe he will show the swing
of Jack Nicklaus. You follow the instructions. You try to
practice at home and at the range. Then, when you thought
you have grasped the idea, you start to play on the course.
But on your first day you found out that your balls like to go
towards the lake, or bunkers. Most of the time, it doesnt go
where you are aiming. You talk to the instructor and he will
start a new set of practice and swing. You try to practice more but the improvement is slow.
Then you start to think, to test and learn the swing by yourself. Then you rely on yourself to
learn the swing. You might need to apply the analytical mind to understand the idea of a golf
The basic idea of a golf swing is that you need to hit the ball squarely at the center of a club
which is called a sweet spot. You need to hit the ball more or less consistently towards the target
that you are hitting. Every club has a different angle, length and weight. And your body has
numerous joints which will affect your body positions when they move.
You need to move or use the whole body to get distance. You
need to breakdown the swing into several steps. Upswing,
down swing, quarter swing, half swing, full swing, and so on.
Our mind cannot think and execute two or three different
things in a fraction of a second. So you have to choose only
one thing in your swing thought. Mostly it should be on the
impact. You need to find out the club head or face position at
the time of impact which will give you a perfect distance.
When you get it, you need to formulate how to get to that
position of swinging movement. You need to practice the
movement until you dont need to think about it when you are swinging. Pay attention to your
body position, movement of the feet, knee, hip, waist, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, head and
neck. Every detail counts.
As stated, you need to pay attention to the face of the club head, the axis and direction of the face
in the swing. Try to find out why the ball is going left or right. Understand why the ball goes too
high or too low. Figure out how to fix the problem or how to adjust your swing. If you can find
out the cause and effect relationship, you will make significant progress. The basic idea is if you
dont hit the ball squarely on the face, your ball wont go straight. To understand those things
you need to practice a lot. To master the swing, you need to practice more. I heard that
professional golfers hit more than a few thousand balls a day. There is never an over-practice.
After you have learned to swing consistently, then you can start to learn the strategy of playing
the game. From then on, you can proceed to learn your strengths and weaknesses. You need to
avoid unnecessary risks or reckless action to improve your score.
Golf, like medicine, is a life long learning process. So how strongly you want to learn and how
much effort you want to invest will be directly and closely related to how successful you will be
in golf. Hopefully, you can apply the tips to other life scenarios successfully. I am sure it wont
hurt you.

65 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Remembering Our Reunion

By Tint Way
IM (1), Class of 68

I write this document now in case my memories of the event slowly decay in my old age and
become lost beyond retrieval, and if that were to happen I would be sad but to no avail it
would be too late. I must act now to ensure the preservation of the treasured memories of the
68ers fortieth anniversary reunion in Los Angeles from 17 to 19 October 2008.
I arrived with Mary in LA with plenty of time to spare, so that I would not miss any part of the
celebrations, unlike my rather late appearance at the summer holiday of April 1964. By 16
October I had already checked in to the Courtyard Marriott, Los Angeles, in Monrovia. Whereas
in Sydney it was spring, here in California it was the fall as they call it (autumn to us). The
weather was mild, a little cool in the evenings, and contrary to LAs reputation, the air was clear
and not at all polluted. This made us feel that LA was welcoming us to the reunion. It was as if
the pleasant weather had been provided just for us. On the other hand, the reunion would be so
wonderful that we would accept any kind of weather that LA might have to offer come rain,
come hail, come shine!!! From the 16th onwards, I had to be vigilant while moving around the
hotel, because I might meet an old friend by chance and I might be a little slow to recognize him
or her. Meanwhile, the view from our hotel window was magnificent, including a background of
a mountain range with a sprawling metropolis at its feet.
On the way to breakfast, the first of my classmates that I met was Tony Chen, an ophthalmic
surgeon in Florida, with his wife, who were staying not far from my room. Before we had
recognised each other, Tony greeted me in Burmese, guessing that I was probably there for the
special occasion. Tony and his wife Delma immediately impressed me as a distinguished yet
jovial couple, who were carrying a large quantity of parcels. Tony explained that the parcels
were presents for all of us, that they were handmade with a special logo, and included our name
badges and note pads that would allow us to write short notes during the reunion. Tony and
Delma had also designed and brought a large poster with the MC1 logo, which would display the
number 40 with a globe in place of the zero to mark the global representation of the
graduating class of 1968.
During the morning, more of our classmates began to arrive and to gather in the foyer of the
hotel. The squeals of delight, amazement and recognition soon echoed around the building.
Then Tony Chens name badges made their way around the group, overcoming any doubts and
hesitation. Among the first to arrive were Alfred Chit Myaing and his wife Jill, Thomas and Rose
Wong, Tommy Leong, and Ivan Teoh. Then followed Rosie Taw from the UK and Shirley Chiu,
Peter Wong and his wife, Pam; Pamela Soe Nyun, Lim Chung Hwee Sein Win from the UK., Zau
Mun and his wife, Hkawn Ji from Burma; Sandra Rahman; Linda Liang and her sister Janet. We
formed groups of different sizes and compositions for a very busy photographic session. We
were all so busy looking at old photographs taken during schooldays (brought by Sandra) and
trying to identify some of our classmates.
At 11 am one of our hosts, Primrose, arrived to take us on a bus trip to the Hollywood Walk of
Fame. The bus ride gave us time to get re-acquainted. Pamela, who lived in LA, often told us
about different parts of the city, eg, the more affluent suburbs. Interestingly, our bus driver
could not speak English, so Thomas and Janet interpreted for us. It appeared that he was giving
us a guided tour of the LA highway system, including several turns around the clover-leaf. We

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 66


thought he was just being stubborn and going his own way, but it was a problem of
communication. Then Pamela took charge and made a phone call to ask for detailed directions,
which were passed to Thomas to interpret to the driver. At first it was frustrating but we soon
saw the funny side of it. It gave us more time to talk and laugh.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
was crowded with
international visitors. In front
of Graumans Chinese theatre,
we took some group photos,
and others had their pictures
taken with Marilyn Monroe
(look-alike?). Zau Mun and his
wife searched for souvenirs for
their grandchildren in Burma.
Mary had her photo taken with
Superman for Joshua and
The evening function was
hosted by Aisha and her
husband at their magnificent Newport Beach mansion, which was in a gated community. We
enjoyed panoramic views of the beach, which was especially beautiful at sunset. Their
hospitality and the Indian cuisine were also excellent. The desserts were laid out on a table so
that they spelt the number 68 in Burmese.
Grace Sein, the widow of Michael Aung Sein, was courageous enough to attend the function. This
would have been extremely difficult for her, given that Michael had been one of the original
organisers and that she knew how he would have liked to see all his old friends enjoying the
celebration. We all comforted Grace and shared memories of Michael.
Winsome took over Michaels role in the organising, but could not join us during the day
because of ill-health. Fortunately she was able to attend the evening celebrations. I thought that
this showed real leadership, to make such an effort to be present and to get involved. On a
similar previous occasion, Winsome had been the organiser of our wonderful summer holiday at
Moungmagan in April 1964. We wish her well with her current treatment and hope that she will
soon be able to organise more events for her classmates.
Tony Myo Lwin, a radiologist from Vancouver, joined us in the evening, having come straight
from a Mexican cruise. He left medical school in 1964 to migrate, first to Taiwan and then to the
Philippines, where he completed his medical studies, before settling in Canada. It was
interesting to find that Tony, despite his early departure, still remembered most of his
classmates from Rangoon.
Both Tony and his wife, Vicky, were overwhelmed while catching up with Tonys old friends
from the early years of medical school. Each one of us spoke about our lives since 1968, our
achievements and setbacks. I was most impressed by the fact that Aisha, in addition to her
academic excellence in the field of corneal transplant surgery, had directed a great deal of her
energy into humanitarian causes, such as leading medical missions to developing countries,
sponsoring disadvantaged children to study in the US, and more recently, helping the victims of
Cyclone Nargis. Not surprisingly, Aishas husband provided great support to her behind the
scenes, as in the old saying that behind every successful woman, theres always a hard-working

67 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Ivan Teoh, a retired vascular

surgeon, struck me as quick-
witted and jovial, frequently
cracking jokes to everyones
amusement. He had
maintained his strong
physique; at university, he
had played water polo with
our old friend, Kyi Tun,
better known as Shwe Ba,
currently in general practice
in England. Ivan had served
in the US Navy, where he was
a Lieutenant-Commander in
the Medical Corps, an "officer
and a gentleman".
Linda Liang spoke about how
she had left Burma because of the impossibility of finding appropriate work after graduation, a
result of her foreigner status, but in America she had unlimited opportunity and achieved dual
qualifications in paediatrics and allergy immunology.
Lim Chung Hwee Sein Win emphasised physical fitness from the viewpoint of a marathon
runner. He worked hard in the UK, and he compared the hard work of medicine with the hard
work of marathon training and racing.
Thomas Wong of Australia, better known as Cartouche because of his youthful good looks,
which he has maintained, runs a successful general practice in Sydney, together with his wife
Rose, a 1970 graduate. They are both excellent ballroom dancers. Thomas is also a keen
photographer, who will certainly keep a thorough photographic record of our reunion.
Peter Wong is a quiet, unassuming academic paediatrician whose smile I have remembered all
these years. I thought that Peters wife, Pam, a child psychiatrist, has similar traits and they are
Sandra Rahman has always been an amiable and helpful person, devoted to her family, which
she talked about with passion. She stepped in to help with the organising of the reunion when
Michael passed away.
Rosie Taw came from Sussex, England, where she works as an anaesthetist. She is friendly and
seemed to enjoy the reunion. Through Rosie, I was able to greet (by phone) another long-lost
friend, Maisie Shin, a New York psychiatrist.
Tommy Leong found, after coming to the US, that business opportunities were more enticing
than medical practice. He followed his wifes suggestion and went into the real estate business,
where he is now thriving in both the US and Hong Kong markets.
Pamela was unable to attend the first evening celebration, but she took part in all the other
events. She now works part-time as a paediatrician, and as one who lives in LA, was very helpful
to those who came from other parts of the world.
Primrose Meier lived and worked in Germany as a neonatologist. She has mastered the German
language and her husband, a haematologist, is German. We are all very grateful to Primrose for
assembling all the biodata and preparing the face book for the reunion.

Alfred Chit Myaing, a cardiologist, came from Washington DC with his wife Jill. He was busy
videotaping the reunion. I remember Alfred as a very serious young student, but now he seems
much more easy-going and just enjoys life.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 68


We enjoyed the sumptuous meal prepared by Aisha and as a group of 68ers, we celebrated our
achievements. As Tony Chen said, we are grateful to our Alma Mater, Rangoon Medical College,
for our excellent basic training and foundation for our later careers.
The next day, we visited the Getty Villa, an imposing building which houses Gettys vast
collection of Antiquities. We learnt a lot about art and archaeology through the ages. As a
psychoanalyst, I was interested to notice signs of phallic obsession and of castration anxiety
during certain epochs of history. I was also fascinated to learn of Odysseus long journey home
after the Trojan War, and I thought about my own odyssey after the reunion.
Another classmate, Judo Soe Myint, joined us that day, and in the evening, another classmate,
Aung Win and his wife, joined us.
Our visit to Malibu beach was memorable for its beautiful white sand and the surrounding
scenery where many celebrities make their homes. We noted that this was the opposite side of
the Pacific Ocean from Australia. Primrose enjoyed getting knee-deep in the water while Tony
Chen kept himself busy recording. We all felt rejuvenated from being there at Malibu.
The evening was hosted by Primrose at her sisters house, where another friend, Kyin Hoe, and
his wife, Grace from Fort Lauderdale, joined us along with a few of Rose Wongs friends. We
enjoyed delicious Burmese cuisine, complete with pawpaw salad and Burmese desserts. A few
of us made power-point presentations about our careers and family life from matriculation in
1961 until now. My old friends, Kyaw Shin, Kyaw Win, Ba Shwe and Win Kyaing, made a video
recording of the medical hostel (Lanmadaw/Godwin Hall) and the medical college with the help
of ophthalmologist Dr Soe Moe and sent it to us to view it as a group, which we enjoyed. We had
had fun dressing up in Burmese formal attire and posed, dancing for the cameras and group
photographs were taken.
We skyped with Hla Yee Yee (Shwe Shwe) and Mala Maung in Kuala Lumpur and had a lot of
fun as they struggled to identify some of us as we greeted each other. We even sang Auld Lang
Syne (should old acquaintance be forgot) together with them. When I put up the lyrics of Red
River Valley to conclude my power-point presentation, the whole group sang with me and this
experience made my heart leap with the same excitement as I had felt when I learnt the song 44
years earlier on the train returning from our summer holiday in Moungmagan. This experience
rounded off a great reunion for the 68ers.
Primrose presented to each one of us a copy of the beautifully prepared Face Book, the result of
her dedication and creativity. We will treasure them for the rest of our lives and we thank
Primrose for her inestimable contribution to the success of the reunion.
The farewell lunch on Sunday at a Chinese restaurant was an emotional occasion, as we
prepared for our sad departures. Tony Chen was thoughtful enough to present the three
organisers, Winsome, Primrose and Aisha, with a replica Hollywood-style gold statuette,
symbolising best friends. We resolved that we should meet again in the not-too-distant future.
We wished each other well and knew that we would never forget this reunion experience. Mary
and I thank Pamela and Sandra for their excellent hospitality during our stay in LA.

69 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Coming Home
By Khin Aye Aye
IM (1), Class of 75
(MBCA- Myanmar Business Coalition for

The year I came back. Its nearly 9 years now and how time flies. I still remember the first day I
came back and the happy indescribable feeling of returning home; the joy of walking along the
roads in our neighbourhood, the feeling that you have with every step and your heart echoing
this is my land, this is my country, the joy of listening to the koel, the soothing tinkling sounds
of the pagoda bells, the chanting of pathanna ..

Years have passed and the joy of returning is sometimes dimmed by the daily challenges; but
when you think of the time when you were away, when there was no one to speak your
language, no monk to receive your donations, no pagoda, no tinkling bells nor the koels calls
when you were among people but you were alone, when you were in the most luxurious of
houses but you were not at Home!

2010: Are you coming Home?

Last night, we had a Class 68 reunion,** sponsored mainly
by Mi Mi and Freddy. The talk was on retiring as most of us
are 1950- born. Coming home, my thoughts went to those
who have left us for good: Ni Ni Thein, Sann Sann, Rosalind,
Hlaing Myint and thirty more; and also to those who are
away in foreign lands, some may be active members of AMIM
, some may be like me.. (so much to say, but no words and
no way to say..or just plain lazy or busy) not joining in the
group, in the conversation but nevertheless out there with you in spirit.
Thinking of my friends has urged me to reach out to my AMIM sisters and brothers who are
mostly on foreign shores, to hear the voices from home: Myanmar. Myanmar your land, your
home, the Myanmar, you knew .or do you?
I knew Myanmar. No, I thought I knew Myanmar, but I was wrong. I realize that I only started to
know my country and my people more in these past eight years*; even then, I know very little
and Im trying to learn more. Our country is beautiful, and the people more so. Of course, our
people are not angels but they are humans with needs and weaknesses. Yet they deserve more

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 70


than most people. If you are in touch and have come back often, you will see the progresses
made but there are still many needs.
Do you remember the dust roads, the paddy fields, the little
boys running barefoot in the rain, the ascaris - filled tummies
and the scabies- tattooed limbs? Children chanting their
homework , learning by rote, orphans in monasteries &
orphanages, young professionals running around attending
classes after classes, youth hanging around in pubs, older
group hanging around in teashopsThey are still here.
Nargis and the aftermath, the resilience of our people, the
loitering youth who became heroes and leaders They have
proven they can be leaders and responsible citizens.
Do you want to hold an orphan in your arms? Help a child with
his education? Encourage and motivate a young professional to
become a valuable citizen? Feed the hungry? Attend to the sick? Or start a business and employ
Do you want to build a thousand homes for a thousand families?
Do you want to fill the gaps , help flowers bloom , make spring come to many many lives by
giving the autumn of your life to humanity ?
Are you retiring?
Will you return to Myanmar?
Are you coming home?

Finally, this is something I have written for my

Serving others.
Serve with humility but with confidence
Serve with empathy but with professionalism
Manage with sensitivity but with discipline
Make To-day a productive day, to make
tomorrow a better place, a place of peace,
harmony, prosperity, equality and equity

(Dedicated to my overseas friends who are retiring this year)

*Working as an NGO in Myanmar

**68 reunion (year of Matriculation)

71 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


An Asian Travelogue: 2009

By Danubyu-thar

The arrival
We arrived on Malaysian soil early morning of 20th November 2009. Despite our efforts from
UK, to inform the hotel that we are arriving in Kuala Lumpur (KL) early and we would like to
have the rooms earlier, when we went to the front desk to check into our rooms we found that
there were no rooms available.
What?! No rooms!
Angry and alarmed looks were exchanged. Then we were told that the rooms were still being
cleaned. We waited for an hour. And waited some more. They then star ted to give us the rooms,
at an Olympic record-breaking pace for a tortoise. It reminds me of the Malaysian
characteristic slow and steady . Not a good start to the holiday, we thought.
Our hotel is situated in the bustling centre of KL; the so - called golden triangle, it is a thriving
business area and hotels mushroomed out in different sizes and shapes in this area. I not iced
that there were big differences from the KL of the nineties. The immediate thing that struck me
was this huge raised mono rail and the train, which is gliding smoothly along. The KL Monorail
is a system that serves 11 stations running 8.6 km with two parallel elevated tracks. It connects
to the transport hub within the golden triangle. According to reports, it was completed at a cost
of 1.18 billion Malaysian dollars and opened in 2003, and is an indication of the city developers
commitment to wards good public transportation.
As we were getting rest less and hungry, we
decided to go out for a walk. Before we went
out, I slipped out by myself to get a mobile
phone card so that we can keep in touch with
all the friends in Malaysia while we were there.
I stepped out of the hotel and the twin towers
greeted me. Then, walking about ten paces
from the hotel entrance, I was pleasantly
reminded of the place that I called home for
five years, i.e. Kota Bharu (KB). This was
because I saw a nasi-lamak hawker by the road
side. Just like the good ole days in KB. Here the
twist was that, instead of road side shops, I t
was sold from a car, parked on the side of the
main road. So it seems like nothing has
changed much in the Malaysia that I cal led home during 1989 to 1994. Then I saw road signs
that were pointing towards Ampang, and memories came flooding back.
After World War II about 1946, the British created the Malayan Union, and later the Federation
of Malaya emerged in its place. The Federation gained its independence from Britain on 31
Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 72

August 1957. Singapore, which had a mostly Chinese population, remained outside the
federation as a British crown colony. Peninsular Malaysia became an independent nation called
Malaya. Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first prime minister of Malaya. In September 1963,
Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore uni ted to form Malaysia. This country, with a
melting pot of customs from four of the world's major cultures - Chinese, Indian, Islamic and
Western cultures gradually developed in the SEA region. Malaysia always had been grateful for
one of the sons o f Burma, United Nations Secretary - General U Thant. U Thant played a crucial
role in mediating the confrontational politics between Indonesia and Malaysia (during its early
formative year). Thus they have named one whole area of Ampang, east of Kuala Lumpur cit y,
as Taman U Thant (U Thants Garden). Also they have named a major road after him, Jalan U
Thant. Taman U Thant is the area where most Embassies are in KL, and of course our old
Burmese Embassy. This is the place where we al l had to converge every summer, while we
were in Malaysia, to accompany our kids in their attempts at remembering the Burmese
language and passing the Burmese state exams. I dont think the kids or t he parents enjoyed
these summer holidays!
Enough of this sidetracking about the Ampang area. As I mentioned, we were getting restless
waiting for the room, so when I returned with the mobile card, we all went out for a walk. As we
were getting hungry, we crossed the road to the shop opposite the hotel, and were pleasantly
surprised by some young Myanmar waiters who welcomed us. So we decided to eat and we had
our first sampling of Malaysia and Thai food, albeit cooked by Myanmar. Then, of f we went to
Sogo (one of the major malls in KL), taking the monorail. As mentioned these are the new
networks that have become the principal mode of public transport. They were not yet built in
the 80s and 90s when we were in this country. It does speak volumes of the leaders, and the
speed that a country can develop if they really set their minds to it. At least thanks to that
monorail trip, we were able to appreciate the congested traffic and the city from an elevated
perspective. Afterwards, we decided to stretch our tired legs with a quick trip to Sogo Mal l, and
the ladies as usual found some bargains and handbags as usual.

Grand AMIM dinner

But at the top of our agenda was the grand dinner with our AMIM family in Malaysia. We have
been looking forward to this day for ages planning via emails, meetings and travel plans with
our big brothers (and sisters) Kogyi Htin and Ma Ma Shwe, and Ko Victor and Ma Ma Ruby. One
of my friends said to me that he was eagerly looking forwards as he might see some gun draws
at the OK corral, referring to one of the episodes on the AMIM website. Anyway, I smiled and
thought to myself, Ko Victor and I are brothers-in-arms!
In the evening we went with Ma Ma Shwe and Ko Gyi Htin to their home, after they popped into
our hotel to pick us up. As it turned out, the evening was a proper grand union of the AMIM
Magazine team, as Ko Victor also came with his better half, Ma Ma Ruby. And surprise, surprise
to learn that my better-half, was the bridesmaid of the lovely couple back in the heydays of
Yangon. Everyone star ted to remember and talked about the good old days of Yangon, and the
Yangon that is going to seed nowadays. I t does make you feel a bit old after these reminiscing
trips. But it was really a grand dinner to remember and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Many mouth -
watering hinns were there on the dinner table and we talked about many and varied things
about friends, Burma and AMIM of course.

73 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Ko Victor said that he will be putting up a reminder with the, running ticker on the home page.
This is for the AMIM Magazine deadline and we talked about AMIM and the discussions and
many things that we shared in common. Even though Ko Victor is a bwin bwin shin shin saya
on AMIM, he is a true gentle man and we were pleasantly surprised by the warm recept ion we
enjoyed that day from Ko Victor; although I must admit that I was a wee bit anxious after my
friends reminder about OK corral. Of course, our Kogyi Htin and Ma Ma were the perfect hosts
throughout the trip. We learned that Kogyi Htin was busy with the sar pay hawpyaw pwe in
Malaysia and he has been doing that regularly for the past few years. A great job, well done
Kogyi Htin!
And then we phoned up the rest of our classmates based in Malaysia, informing them, making
sure that we were well organised for the coming days and trip to Ipoh. Later, Ma Ma Shwe and
Kogyi Ht in later showed us around Petaling street, Petaling Jaya, the IMU building which was
resplendent in the evening skyline of their area. Then we said farewell to everyone, to return to
our hotel to prepare for tomorrows reunion in Ipoh with Lavender, Ko Minn Lwin and our own
Victor (KoThant Zin). We never knew that there will be Saya U Soe Lwin waiting for us there.

Ipoh reunion
We woke up early again for the trip to Ipoh. I t was a lovely day, and the sun was shining in the
sky. Ma Ma San was the first person we met at Ipoh, and she treated us to a mouth watering
Rambutan meal. We joined up with our class mates, Lav, Ko Minn Lwin and Ko Victor on the way
to the rendezvous. On the way to the restaurant, we picked up Saya Soe Lwin at his place. He
was still a jolly fun guy and Kogyi Htin seems to hit it off well with him. Then we went to the
seafood restaurant -and a slap up lunch. It was a great way to catch up and enjoy the friendship
of classmates and teachers (Picture of the friends reunion, with lush green mountains of Ipoh in
the background).
We went back later to Lavs house
for the best durian and mingut
dessert. Again we enjoyed the
company of all the friends in the
lovely house of Lavender together
with her family. Lavender and Minn
Lwin indeed managed to excel
themselves for the reunion despite
their busy schedules. Minn Lwin
was our coxswain when we did
rowing together in our university
days. We also enjoyed a game of
scrabble or two during those days.
So as you might have guessed we had a lot to catch up. Later we went to see Victors better half.
Victor is now based at the university in Trengannu and his lovely better half is working at the
renal dialysis centre in Ipoh. It was a great gathering.
On our return journey from the reunion, we popped in to the temple cave just out side of Ipoh,
but found that it was closed for the day. Yet thanks to Ko Thuras diplomatic words, the doors
were opened up especially for us. With the grand bell, inside this temple, being tolled every few

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 74


minutes to bring in the best of luck for these travellers, Buddha was smiling benignly on us and
we paid our respects to Buddha in the cavernous and cool dwelling place. Every nook and
cranny inside this cave temple got a Buddha or the Kwan Yin mother, blessing the visitors.
These limestone caves were breathtakingly cavernous and cool inside. Finally, Kogyi Htin drove
us back home, to Asia caf and we tasted the best food in Malaysia! We ordered all that we
wanted and more and enjoyed another thoroughly Malaysian dinner on the food court!

The magical trip down Malaccas memory lane

We had planned one whole day for Malacca. The day started early for us at 6-30 AM in the
breakfast room already-- where the delicious porridge, nasi, roti and dimsum were derigueur.
Roti was freshly made and the fresh juices like pha-yea thee, orange etc. kept us really healthy
from the start of the day. Ahem, although we tried to balance that with an equal amount of
dimsum.... We did not even glance at the European breakfast counter, though we were not able
to resist the freshly fried eggs.
Our journey to Malacca started out well and we passed the peaceful and nicely kept graveyards
for the fallen soldiers, when we started to go out of KL. We passed lovely and quaint looking
houses and skywards looming housing estates with billboards proclaiming that they are being
reduced duapoloh (20%) percent!! This is of course, reflecting the situation of the global
finances. Yet the shops by the roadside, the shops in the night malls and food courts were all
teeming with people. For example, the malls (the Pavilion, Sogo) that we went to in KL were also
brimming with youngsters, of f ice workers and family gearing up for the Idd and Christmas
In Malacca, we thought we will stay away from the museums as I read the following blog
warning about Malaccas museum One could spend weeks visiting the dozens of museums . . .
We went to the Maritime Museum, which is built into a large model ship. While we were still in the
lower level of the hull of the ship, the curator shut of f all the lights in the building, ready to go
home for the night! Using the f lash on our camera, we found our way to the steps, while hollering
non -stop at the curator to let him know we were still there! . We dont want to be locked in side a
museum, so we gave it a miss.
Anyway, Malacca was very welcoming
with all the floral decorated trishaws,
the shops, the narrow yet quaint streets
reminding us of the narrow cobbled
streets back home in Durham. It is a
major world heritage site recognised by
UN. We wandered around the lovely
town, which is full of beautiful old
buildings from the days of Portuguese
rule, Dutch rule, and British. At the same
time, the flower bedecked trishaws were
blaring Michael Jacksons songs, were
going around us. Our friends bought
hats and slippers, as the sun was so warm over our heads. I bought some fridge magnets for my
global collection of magnets and I am sure one day I can open a museum of fridge magnets.

75 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Now back to our trip. As Kogyi Htin parked the car deftly right at the picturesque town centre
with all the trishaws, and the lovely gardens, we just went for the photo opportunity. So that
was how the picturesque windmill and the tour group picture came about. Later, we moved
our car to another car park but it was perfectly timed to avoid the car park wardens who came
charging out of no where. So be ware of these wardensall in all, it reminds me of a tourist town
in UK.
Later, our pictorial director, Kogyi Htin, directed us to the best viewpoints and how to take the
best pictures. I am sure we could have won a Visit Malaysia short film award. To recount, there
were the pictures with the floral trishaws, trying to look like we were running away with the
trishaws, the lovely garden at the town centre, the church, the windmill (I am not sure of the
significance of the windmill) and on the roads and many more. Some of the lovely old houses
have similar windows, slat, frames that we see in Burma which reminds me more of home,
Then we went up a very tall mountain to the church and look out point. We were out of breath
at the top but the view and the place was worth the effort. This of course, was naturally followed
by a hearty meal at the food court.
Later, we went in for some more traditional shops where the ladies enjoyed their best hobby--
shopping and haggling and buying sarongs.
Another grand dinner we enjoyed was in the hotel. No, it was not in the grand dinner hall. It was
in the hotel room number 2007, where we had a brilliant dinner of durian, mingut thee,
rambutan etc. in other words, a fruity feast to the full. It was food heaven. That will remain as
our third best dinner of the trip. Because the joint first prize would have gone to the meals at
Chez Kogyi Htin and Ma Shwe, and the seafood restaurant in Ipoh.
We thoroughly enjoyed this visit, and we would like to say our heart felt appreciation to our
Sayama Ma Ma Shwe and Ko Gyi Htin for being the best hostess and host for showing us the best
of Malaysia in this year -end trip that we will treasure for life; and we have the photos to prove
it. Without the patience and expertise of our guiding angels, we would not have enjoyed it
completely. Also our grateful thanks to all
our classmates in Malaysia Lavender, Minn
Lwin and Victor, whom we met up, and who
entertained us. And to all our classmates in
Myanmar pyay, whom we met up after this
trip from Malaysia, and refresh our
friendships and made us welcome, we thank
you all from the bottom of our hearts.
Now this Burma trip will be a new
travelogue in itself. I will leave you with a
picture as an appetiser for the next chapter
of my travelogues. So until then, au revoir.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 76

AMIM 2010 LETTER FROM . . . .

Letter from Europe

Dear Ko Maung Maung,

I hope you have settled into your new routines of
psychiatry training post in the London hospital. I
am writing to you from Spain as our son and
daughter came back for a short spring holiday.
We are in Barcelona now, and enjoying the local
food, the tapas, Gaudi's creations, the Sagrada
Familia church, and so on. Unexpectedly, the trip
gave us a glimpse into the working of Buddhism
in this great country. It was by accident that we
saw the road-sign stating Monestir Buddhista
near the town called Sitges. This meant that there is a Buddhist monastery nearby. So we asked
in broken Spanish to a passerby, if it is nearby. He showed me ten fingers. 10 miles? No reaction.
10 minutes? I asked. A nod.
So off we went in search of this monastery. Soon we were driving up the hill. And then to the
top, only to climb down another mountain. And past a winding road, and past a new village and
a nature trail... to come into the full view of a huge mansion, with the sign-post Sakya Tashi
Ling. We went in hoping to see the monks but we were met by the locals who were selling
trinket, amulets, protection by the Buddha, prayer beads, prayer wheels and many other
things. Books and wind chimes, as well as the small Buddha statues were sitting serenely in the
tourist shop. I looked at the smallest prayer bead and it cost 5 Euros. The information centre
told me that lunch is available for 15 Euros and the tour to the museum/palace was 5 Euros. In
short, a very business-like place. Now, that is a big difference from the Theraveda centre that I
went to in Belgium earlier this year.
This Belgium trip was not a holiday. So what
was it you might ask? Well, it was a request or
maybe more of matter-of-fact invitation by
sayadaw to come with him for translation
during the meditation retreat. So in essence, it
was for the Sasana. It was to spread the word
of Buddha. It was to help the Europeans
overcome suffering and to guide them in the
path of insight meditation. In other words, it
was to help them find peace of mind. Maybe I
will also.
The first day, they concocted Burmese Mohinga from a special recipe given to them from
Manchester Kyaung. It was good except that the onions were straight from a pickled bottle! My
tongue is still sour from eating that pickled onion floating in the "mohinga hin-yee. The next
day, they tried again with my advice for a better Mohinga. But they combined the hin-yee and
the mon phat early on and boiled them. So when sayadaw had his "ar-yone swun it was a big

77 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

LETTER FROM . . . . AMIM 2010

bloated mass of mohinga. Needless to say, Sayadaw was not impressed with my cooking advice
to the Europeans. (Photo- Dhammramsi compound covered in snow)
But I think I made some progress with my
translation work during the daily Dhamma talks
and during the sessions where the yogis had to
report back to sayadaw. Because there was much
feedback regarding sayadaw's teaching and the
mediators appeared to appreciate a lot of his
teaching, which was translated by the
translator. So the daily translations and the
short summary that I did for the talks, I might say,
was a help and not a hindrance.
Then there was this guy. I will call him Mr Van Gogh. He was a highly strung mediator.
Alternatively, you might describe him as a manic depressive. The first seven days he was ok,
then on the 8th he took a turn down the manic path. He worked non- stop, cleaned non-stop in
the meditation centre. He said he cannot do the sitting meditation and went for a long walk
along the beautiful river nearby (see picture). Sayadaw had private Q& A sessions with him to
guide him back with loving kindness. We tactfully asked him to note while he do daily activities
etc. He was jolly, then morose. Later on the 9th day, he returned home. In this case Dhamma was
not able to help him gain insight, yet short meditations might help him in the future, and of
course he must also be taking regular medications. But the good news was the rest of the yogi
made good progress.
This Theraveda centre that we conducted the retreat is
the fruition of the efforts of Marie Cecile Forget. She is
the torch bearer for Theraveda Buddhism in Belgium, in
particular the Burmese Buddhist tradition. She and her
team had made this abundantly clear on the signs in
front of their retreat in Namur, Profoundville near
Brussels. In comparison to the Tibetan centre, there
were no locals selling the touristy wares and
protective amulets of Buddha. Just down to the basics,
that is insight meditation practices and the books by
Sayadaw U Pandita. It was like home to me.
The centre is called "Dhammaramsi, and it was stated
in bold and Burmese alphabet like "signboard, in front
of the compound. I would encourage you to go and
meditate in this peaceful place in Belgium, if you have
some spare time and want to do some visiting at the same time. Aptly named Profoundville or
the Profound valley (to you and me), one can develop and pursue the profound wisdom of
Buddha's teaching under the guidance of Burmese sayadaws, all trained in insight meditation.
For me it has been a joyous and often emotional journey of translation and inspiring work.
Helping these Dhamma relatives, all Europeans, who appeared to be more dedicated than me
in their journey of Dhamma discovery, assisting them in trying to translate and describe their
findings in their daily meditations was motivational. Assisting them in their path as they become

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 78

AMIM 2010 LETTER FROM . . . .

more confident and progress in their search of the noble path and the noble truth has been
inspirational. Overall, an empowering experience.
This meditation retreat teaches us about the
Buddhas words of wisdom; let us have a
glimpse... No, a real feel of peace on earth. In
addition, we learned about temperance,
"thamadi, uppekha, perseverance and these
may carry over into the other spheres of our
lives. And of course the ultimate truth, if you
persevere to continue in the practice.
In other words, the benefits are not only for
samsara, but they are of practical importance in
our daily life. Peace of mind is what many of us
try to achieve in daily life. IM is the way to
achieve it. Moment to moment. The ultimate
peace with freedom from fear and anxiety, freedom from worries, freedom from suffering.
Sayadaw stated at the last day, that we have helped create exactly that, PEACE in this Profound
valley.... however temporary. He stated also that the giving of Dhamma is the best of all "Ahlu,
the best charitable act.
Given that we were born in Burma, and immersed in the teachings of Buddha, we rarely practise
what He has preached. Nevertheless here in the UK, Insight meditation (IM) has become an
accepted pathway for the general practice, and the GPs are encouraged to refer those patients
who had mental health problems. So, that tells us how far IM has become accepted globally. As
you can see in this photo, the spread to Belgium is well on its way also.
Dr Kabat Zinn, one of the main proponents of the Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR)
based his teachings on IM practice. He had delivered many talks explaining very well how it
helps in our daily life. And he was credited with the fact that he brought IM into the mainstream
medicine. In conclusion, as you are
studying Psychiatry, in the footsteps of Dr
Zinn and many others, perhaps you could
tell us more about the link between
meditation and good mental health next
time we meet. Finally, I would like to
thank Sayadaw for inviting me to this
retreat. Maybe Ko Maung while you are
here in the UK, you can help Sayadaw.

With lots of metta

(Khitta Spain)

79 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

Contents LETTER FROM . . . . AMIM 2010

83 /

84 ()

86 ()


Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 80


wrf;wpdwf ...

. . .

. . .

. .

. . . . . .
. . . .
. .
. .

. . . . .
. .
. . .
. . . . .
. . . . . . .

. .
. .
. . . .
. . . .
. . .
. .

81 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine




I want to go Home
Khin Maung Gyi

Honestly, I want to go Home

From a country which is not my own
. Though having a career, life much better
I won't be happy to settle forever.

'Burma', 'Myanmar; we proudly call

Motherland which means so much to us all
'Seeking brighter future' makes us leave
Sad in our hearts - heavy and heave.
Never a day went by without thinking
Pray that 'She' won't go on sinking

A beautiful land rich in resources
Once endowed with intellect forces.

Thinking of a 'Reunion' - we all shall meet

Smiling, laughing, hugging we'll greet

Though now spread all over the globe
'Rendezvous Homeland' - do let us HOPE.

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 82




When one's star starts to rise
That of another set to demise
Thus, these events, changes and happenings
Often regards a natural swing!!

Though living ceremoniously in the palace

With such pomp, grandeur and grace
Monarch's life likened a water drop
Rising to the surface, falling non-stop.

Even if you now set me FREE

'Death' is our unavoidable destiny
Born to the world in this LIFE
Joys, sorrows and hardships are rife.

During 'Sansara', again do we meet

Solemnly, respectfully, I then shall greet
From this very life, I've forgiven thee

Impermanence beholds my blood and body!!
Translated by
Khin Maung Gyi

83 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


tpdrf;a&mifr[kwfwJhvlom;rS tarodkU

(My birth place and mom were left behind, far far away in thousand miles)
I did not know the life would be very hard and hostile

(I had to look for a greener pasture in the east and the west)
I've got to be far away even from mom's life and death

(Being in Hell makes you unafraid of hot ashes too)
Difficulties back home pushed me and helped to sail the world through

(You know yourself best, the true colour of skin underneath)
Two different worlds will never meet

(Being a man not in green, but full of determination)
You can tolerate all kinds of discrimination

(Mountain of swords and ocean of fire, I had to cross and overcome)
There were many battles in life I lost and won

(In the global village, I wish we could proudly roar "Burma" before our national flag)
We, all, are working hard with our tear and sweat

(After every New Year I thought, I would come home and see mom happily)
As the global village has awarded me my destiny

(However, mom ........ the ruthless man in green has separated us forever)
Your heart will be broken if you know my chance of coming home is almost certainly -
never and never

(Burglish Poems)

. . . AMIM
. . .

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 84



85 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


wacwfwcgu aw;t&om




(Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy)
consulting room
(Attentive listening)
(Empathic Attunement)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 86


(Non-intrusive Approach )


(Music Therapy)

series DVD




87 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



() ( )

() ()

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 88





89 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine


Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 90



91 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine




(sense of ownership)

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 92



93 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



( )

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 94


(land cruiser)

95 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



Sun scan technician

Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 96


first name


() L'opera

97 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



dim sum


Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 98


99 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine



( ()
( ) )


Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine | e-magazine 100

AMIM 2010

Please contribute manuscripts (sarmus) for

the next issue of AMIM magazine
to be published in 2011
(Hopefully a hard copy publication).
You can send
your manuscripts (sarmus) to

101 e-magazine | Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine

Related Interests