Ma Kyi Aung is a 19 year old girl from Karen State in Burma. She was born prematurely in her village and had a low birth weight. When she was 1, her parents left her with her grandparents and went to Bangkok to find work. They never returned.
When Ma Kyi Aung was 17 years old she started to eat and sleep a lot and she stopped going to school as she was no longer motivated to attend. She had started to grow very tall and put on extra weight. Her family thought her body was changing because she was eating so much. Her face had also started to change. Prior to this sudden change, she was an average-sized girl. When she left school she started working on her grandparent’s farm but she started to get headaches in 2008 and had to stop.
Her aunty took her to a district hospital where they did a CT scan, blood tests and an ultrasound. The doctor told them that her problem was neurological and that she would need an operation. He said that that they would need to go to Rangoon Hospital for treatment as they could not do the surgery. Ma Kyi Aung’s family could not afford the treatment in Rangoon as they spent her grandparents’ entire life savings while she was undergoing tests at the district hospital. Instead, they decided to come to Mae Tao Clinic in Thailand for help; a friend in their village told them that the clinic would help them for free.
Ma Kyi Aung says that she feels very sad because she cannot go out with her friends. Whenever she leaves the house people stare at her and talk about how strange she looks. She has little hope for the future and says that she just wants to return to help her grandparents on the farm when she has finished her treatment.
Since Ma Kyi Aung has come onto the BAMF program, she has needed to go to Chiang Mai for treatment on many occasions. She has had a couple of minor surgeries and has been put on a course of medication. Before she had the surgery, Ma Kyi Aung says that she suffered from headaches and backaches. She says that the treatment is helping and that her condition would have caused her to die if untreated.