Mya Sandor was 6 years old and one of seven children when she first arrived at the Mae Tao Clinic. Her brother had carried her to the clinic on his back as she was unable to walk. Initially it was thought that Mya Sandor was suffering from complications due to a bout of cerebral malaria. BCMF took her to Chiang Mai for further investigations which revealed that she had a brain tumour. With the help of BCMF, Mya Sandor battled against the tumour with her mother by her side. This is her story…
Mya was born at home in her village with the help of a traditional birth attendant (TBA). Her parents were unable to support their children so they left the older ones to look after the younger ones (with the supervision and support of their neighbours) and went to find work in Bangkok in 2008. At the time Mya Sandor was the youngest child.
In 2010, Mya Sandor became seriously ill with cerebral malaria and her mother returned to their village to take care of her. She was six months pregnant with already 6 mouths to feed, another one on the way and alone (her husband had left her). She also had to care for Mya , who was now very sick. With little money for medical care, her mother took Mya to the village healer and she was given a tonic to drink. It didn’t seem to help at all. They also tried other medication including injections.
In August 2010, Mya lost consciousness and her family thought that she would die. They weren’t able to seek medical attention as they had no money so they accepted their fate and waited by Mya’s side. However, after two days, Mya was still alive. Leaving her bedside vigil, Mya’s mother sought guidance from a fortune teller. She was informed that her daughter would not die and advised her to take her to hospital. Her mother returned to the house, picked up her daughter and took her to hospital. Mya was admitted to hospital for 15 days and her mother had to borrow 1.5 million kyat (US$1,500) to pay the hospital bill (1,000,000 Kyat).
When Mya’s parents were working in Bangkok, they got jobs in a factory painting metal grates (which are fitted to the outside of windows). They earned 160 each per day and they would send money back to the children to support them. To get to Bangkok, her parents had to pay 50,000 baht ‘security’ to obtain documents (as they entered Thailand illegally). They had to pay this money off monthly. Now Mya’s 15 and 17 year old sisters have moved to Bangkok to help support the family. Together they are working in a house doing domestic duties. They each earn 3,000 baht a month but have to pay back the ‘security’ they paid to get themselves there (also 50,000 baht each). It was a big sacrifice to make and they were afraid for their lives during the journey. Though they are still teenagers, they bear the burden of supporting their 5 younger siblings and mother as their father no longer supports them.
Before she came down with cerebral malaria, Mya Sandor was an active 5-year-old girl. She liked to play and run around. However, she now has trouble walking and eating. Her 13-year-old brother (Poe Kyaw - see video) helps her a lot – he carries her around on his back and looks after her. She can grab things and lift drinks and food to her mouth. However, when she does so, her arms shake and she struggles physically. She can walk with the support of others. Her mother has become increasingly worried about her daughter as she says that her head looks like it is getting bigger.
A friend from their village told them to bring Mya Sandor to the Mae Tao Clinic. Her mother had known about the Clinic when her daughter fell ill but she could not get here because she was pregnant and didn’t have the money to travel. However, she has finally made the trip out of concern for her daughters deteriorating health. Given her condition, it is clear that Mya Sandor will have to travel to Chiang Mai for further investigation.
Mya Sandor’s mother says that she wants nothing more than her daughter to get better. She says she is very clever and that she loves to read. She wants her to get healthy again so that she can go to school.
Sadly Mya passed away in 2011 in Chiang Mai. Her mother was by her side. BCMF remembers Mya Sandor’s beautiful smile and fighting spirit. Here’s a video made of Mya and her brother Poe while they were undergoing treatment in Chiang Mai.