Chor was born with a small mole-sized lump on his face however by the time he reached 9 years of age, this small lump has grown into a large facial deformity. Encephalocele is the most probable diagnosis. This is a congenital defect where the brain membranes protrude through a groove in the skull. Chor’s mother thought that his deformity made him unfit for education but he commenced schooling this year when a local migrant school alerted the family that he was welcome to attend.
Chor was 5 months old when his father died of suspected malaria. His mother remarried and has a total of six children from both marriages. Chor’s family lease land to grow corn and they reside in a village on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border. Chor’s mother says she moved her family from Karen State for safety and improved prospects after her grandmother said their lives would be better in Thailand. His mother goes on to say that she remembers times when she was younger when she needed to run into the jungle to avoid fighting in her village in Burma. Thankfully Chor has not been directly exposed to conflict though he is very familiar with guns from hunting birds near his village with his step-father.
Chor’s mother was not aware that her son’s condition could be corrected. She has only once taken Chor for medical treatment and that was when she suspected he had malaria. On this occasion Umphang Hospital treated him free of charge. It was not until recently that an INGO working in the area noticed Chor’s condition and contacted Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF).
BCMF staff travelled to see Chor near his village in Umphang, Thailand. He is very shy but shares that he does not get angry when other children tease him about looking like an elephant. He explains that he needs to be careful when playing with his friends because his nose is painful and it can be dangerous if he is hit in the face. Once his soft facial protrusion was knocked and Chor was rendered unconscious.
Chor’s mother explains that she had felt a sense of hopelessness regarding Chor losing his father at such a young age and about his facial deformity. She says that Chor is a thoughtful child who helps her with cooking and caring for his younger siblings; the youngest is 10 months old. Chor’s mother hopes that her son will be happy no matter what the outcome (of treatment) may be. She loves her son very much and this will not change if he remains the same or receives successful treatment.
Chor travelled to Chiang Mai for the first time on 14 July 2011 to see a specialist.
-> View a video slideshow of Chor and other BCMF patients departing the Mae Tao Clinic