The Experiment

Workaway

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First day Patient care with Sebastian

I had done many Workaways in life. Teaching, digging, cleaning and repairing, but during my first weeks in Myanmar, I had yet to encounter the most dramatic experience on Workaway. Let me tell you about false Bhuddism, Patient care and Savage country.

  • Working as: Nurse
  • Place: Thabarwa Center, Yangon, Myanmar
  • Time I’ve spent there: 15.03.17 – 26.03.17

The Host

VolunteersKema is a monk, who is shipping information between the volunteers and locals. She owns the Workaway profile, but invests little to zero as host. The hosts are “Coordinators” for each activity, who get chosen by long term volunteers (few months). Getting coordinator is possible after a week or so. This place is like a bomb, everyone keeps passing onto new people arriving, after their leave, that’s why, I call this blog “The Experiment”. It is runned by 60 volunteers nonstop, who are rotating daily.

My Story & Characters

Thabawa Center. A place, where everyone in need for help can show up and be received by the Monastery. As I had read this Workaway profile, I could not understand, how this can be possible. If that would work, planet Earth had no problems to solve anymore. I had to visit this place, in order to understand the description and to face a Monastery for the very first time in my life. My plan was to stay two weeks, but as you see, I ran away after eleven days, because this place is an absolute chaos in every perspective. I wrote a very rational report about this place after a week for Workaway, in order to clarify the current situation of this Center. If you want to read The Report of Thabarwa, check it out.

Volunteers (VolunTiere)

Ranik Mayer: Self proclaimed nurse, ready to treat people. He learned for the very first time, what importance a simple knowledge of medicine can have. Ever since day one, he joined the “Medical Team” and not even meditated once at the Monastery. With his large mouth and his critical attitude, he quickly realized, that he will be the first one to be burned at stake.

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Dimitri, trying to persuade Wormguy for a new bandage with a free cigarette, while Osamue photobombs the pic.

Dimitri, “Dr. Darkness”: Experienced Nurse in several divisions, he came to this hell hole and ran around for two weeks, treating people of all sorts of problems. With his very rational and critical attitude he and Ranik became quickly good friends and spent many hours in this Center.

Fabian & Aron: Two young German boys, traveling the continent and coming from the “Legalize Marihuana” group. While Aron was mainly missing life by sleeping 24/7, Fabian started to understand the urge of emergency in this place and soon became a respected worker in the volunteer community.

Marlon, “Jesus, the Baumeister”: Large German guy, who loves to drink beer and looks like Jesus. He had a great hand for construction and worked with Johnny several hours behind the scenes and fixed wheel chair, built concrete blocks and lockers. With his mentally questionable insanity, he travel the world, in order to get a sheperd in Greece.

Johnny

Johnny, fixing wheelchairs.

Johnny, “Don’t bullshit with me, ey”: Gracefully dressed in awesome styles, this Argentinian/Italian accent speaker does not only act forcefully, but also works forcefully. He is probably still there, trying to fix another wheel chair.

King Solomon: Young black guy, trying to get football star in Myanmar. He loves the activity “Gym” the most and likes to dance in the middle of crowds with old people. His attitude is sometimes questionable, but so is everything else in this place.

Street Kids

Random street kids, collecting plastic bottles.

The four Street kids

Kopio “Scorpio”: Street Kid, Black hair, 140 cm, purple shirt, annoying af and always sneaking around the volunteers. His emotional balance is very short and he can lose his mind very quickly. During an interfierence in a battle, he battled Ranik as well. Sometimes high on “Superglue”.

Sengo “Glueboy”: Street Kid, Black hair, 130 cm, ran away from home two months ago, on Superglue since one month. Ranik made him cry in his first 24 hours, by taking away his “Superglue” bottle. Even though, he got his bottle back, the next day he threatened Ranik with a little knife. Ranik saved him during the “Monk beating” and had special relationship with this kid.

“The little fat”: Street kid, black hair, little and round, smoking cigarettes and having a great ability in annoying people, like all of them. Jesus and he used to spend some time together.

“The Beggar”: Street kid, little, black hair and large face, usually sneaking around tables and asking volunteers for food.

Other Single Characters:

Kema, “The Endboss”: A calm woman, forcing her way, by simply being a douche. Currently I am fighting her and her underlings in the Monastery, by taking her profile offline.

“Old Yogi”: Elder german guy, who lives there since five years and only judges the shit out of people. He’s got no authority, that’s why he is judging.

Sudassana: A woman with the power of annoying the people so great, everyone has the desire to slap her. However, she is shizophrenia and therefore should be treated like a patient, not like a healthy person. She loves to kill you with her old “Porridge of Death” and she cannot be touched, as she says, she is protected by Bhudda. Don’t let her into the “USA ground floor”.

38Jessy “The flea bag”: The only dog, who is owned by all the volunteers, he is an aphatic dog that does not give a single damn about anything going on here. He loves to play with “Boyfriend” in the evening and likes to drink the water from the “USA Ground Floor” bathroom.

Gastronomy

Shake bar: Straight down the road from USA ground floor, one will be arriving at the only shake place in Thabawa. Their Juices are not so well filtered, but the lime juices without salt and Noodles are well.

The Mandalay boys: Little cafe, with the only decent coffee around. Run by some glue boys from Mandalay, this is an integration project for the little lost ones.

The Crazy sisters: Facing the volunteer office, this place has the healthiest food and the craziest sisters in town. They are tough, but hardworking. Even the little girl is absolutely mature for her age of eleven, but working everyday all the time.

 

 

The Daily Life

06:00 – 08:00 Daily life starts at six in the morning. Everyone goes for the pale rice breakfast and many go for the activity “Alms rounds” in the next hour. Usually girls like the part of collecting food and money. Then you can sit down on the stairs of the USA Building, it’s a three floor building, occupying dozens of volunteers, and witness the core of all events happening here. It’s like a empty little spot in front of the house. Either the four street kids show up and start to annoy all the volunteers by poking them everywhere with their dirty little fingers. Also, we always keep them away from the Ground floor of the USA Hall, which is simply a large slidable gate, locked sometimes with a locker, that all the locals know the code of. I spent 10 nights in USA ground floor and let me tell you, it’s insane. All the things happening just in front of your bed (it was a 15 bed dorm), with no privacy at any time.

08:00 – 11:30 Everyone is moving, well all that decided to do something today. “Medical Team” started everyday at eight, in front of the USA Ground floor. Usually, six people were a minimum for a decent finish of the day. Even though, we were always enough people, we barely had any new members joining us, as it is an activity, that requires mental strenght, routine work and longer terms of stay, in order to get to know the patients. My first patient was Old man, he is around 90 and we used to clean him up from the bottom to the top. Then, we gathered around the hospital, in order to prepare the care of “Corner Guy”. We call him Cornerguy, because his bed is stationed in the upper left corner of the building. We needed four people for his treatment.

  1. 36

    Sarah, and Dimitri, working on a new technique for Corner Guy.

    General doctor, treating the wounds.

  2. Assistant below the bed, giving material.
  3. Assistant on the other side of the bed (which was the terasse, with a window), stabilizing his body and assisting the patient mentally.
  4. Assistant, ready to run for an unexpected lack of material.

After the smell of dead foul meat had been inhaled and the patient with the Red, orange, yellow blood dripping bed sores had been plastered with another load of Gauze and betadine. After we were done, lifting or turning the screaming patient and replacing the Betadine drowned Gauze in his fist-sized hole on the right hip, where Bone was visible and tendons were dangling like a tissue, with a new one. After removing the Ants, that were eating his legs and rejecting “Cornerguy’s” wishes, to donate money to us, for the gratefullness, we went for tasty lunch.

11:30 – 13:00 Donations from the alms, were the nutritions at lunchtime. It was always just a bunch of little things, thrown together in a creative way. Dimitri and I usually ate, went together to the shake bar for a lime juice, and then started the afternoon “Patient Care”.

13:00 – 17:30 Dimitri treated several other patients in need, that were not mentioned on any paper, while I was listening to his explanations of the wounds or the medicine and assisting him.

17:30 – 20:00 After another cringeworthy meeting, where one could see, how many people actually don’t work, we went across the office and ate at “The Crazy Sisters”. John was a long term volunteer there and used to love plain rice with some vegetable and egg. I wanted the same and all I had to ask for was: “Same John”, please. Then we went all back to USA ground floor and prepared our daily task of going out for a beer. If anyone from the Monastery is reading those passages here and thinking, alcohol is not allowed there, let me tell you: Go to Hell. I am facing dying people everyday with Dimitri and we are the only ones taking care of them, while all the monks just grab the money and ignore their own rules. A Monastery? Think again.

A relaxed evening after a hard day in Thabawa: The fast drinking meditation

The only moment, where we can relax and talk about all the annoying and insane moments of the Thabawa, were during the beer evenings I had with my friends. I really have to recommend one more case on this note: The squid salad in the bar. It costs 3000 Kyats, but tastes like heaven, when combining with a beer.

Final Impression

Read The Thabarwa Report, if you are interested in all the details of the bad conditions, that are shaping this place. It is without doubt the hardest experience, I ever had to face on my Workaway experiences. Even though, this was an absolute amazing place with a rollercoaster of emotions, which I would recommend anytime, I have a mixed feeling about the Thabawa center. On one side, it is lovely to receive the poor and help them, but considering their budget and powers, I cannot relate to their choices. I know, I am right with this blog even though, I am facing a stronger current, trying to drag me away, but I will proudly and without fear, be speaking from my heart. This place already has a lot, but they could do so much more and they conciously refuse to ease great suffering in the center, instead uneducated volunteers in their young years are facing situations without control, where they are trying to make even the slightest change in The Experiment.

2 thoughts on “The Experiment

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