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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Worlds Beyond the Red Clay Roads

Today, I came home from the office and stood outside my house, just a few short days since the end of one of the busiest seasons I've experienced since arriving in Thailand over 2 years ago. Over the past 12 weeks, we have hosted 4 groups for Animal  Health and Public Health trainings, covering a range of topics from community and home sanitation, nutrition (both human and animal), diarrhea (both human and animal), colds, eye problems, pneumonia (both human and animal... there's quite a lot of crossover...), antibiotic usage, muscle diseases, viral and bacterial endemic diseases, intestinal parasites (both... you know), back problems, natural farming methods, how to take a temperature (you guessed it... turns out thermometers really aren't particular to species), malaria, how to give injections, wounds (if you cut a cow, does she bleed?), arthritis, hoof problems (you should see some of these guys' feet... just kidding), and many more issues that the people living on the mountains face everyday.

One of the reasons we stack our deck so heavily this time of year is because February through April is the hottest, driest period of the year, firming up the rice fields and mountainsides until the widening cracks, blowing dust, and brown stubble remnants of last year's lush bounty make evident the land's thirst.  It is the time of year when farmers take a break from plowing, planting, pulling, and praying for the harvest.

It's also the time of year before the red clay roads that are cut into the steep green slopes slicken to the point of impassable - on these remote mountains travel is impossible after the rains come.

So today, as I stood outside and listened to the dark clouds rolling in for the second consecutive day, winds sweeping through the banana trees enmeshed in the power lines overhead with nary a neighbor's concern, and as heavy drops pounded the metal roofs, I was thinking of my brothers and sisters on the mountains, some of whom returned home just a few days ago, armed with knowledge and skills which I pray will enable them to better their communities.  The cool winds bringing relief to their families from the sweltering heat, the rain softening and greening their fields and forests.  Soon the rains will settle in for the season, the roads will melt away, and we will wait until we can meet once again.  Worlds apart.

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