January 2016: Cassim’s Letter

I am a final year medical student, from the UK, who was volunteering in Mae Sot at the Mae Tao Clinic (providing free healthcare to the migrant population), and I had the pleasure of meeting Fred whilst he was doing his charitable work. He very kindly invited me to join him to see the work he does. Little did I know, the visit to see Fred’s work would be a life-changing experience.

Initially, I was astonished and appalled to see the living circumstances of the community in Mae Sot who Fred serves; they live and work within the dump site – as you can imagine, teeming with insects and bad smells. Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to realise the community was filled with some of the most generous and most content-looking people I’ve come across in a long time. The kids on the site were playing with our old rubbish, kicking around a flat football, cutting leaves with an old tin lid and creating a make-shift shop with empty rubbish cans, leaves and twigs. It didn’t take me long at all to realise the safe environment, clean water facilities, social structures, transport and supplies were largely thanks to the work of Fred; it’s very obvious that the community appreciates his work immensely. However, what struck me the most is unlike other charities, Fred doesn’t come and just make changes, Fred directly works with them in order to help bring about the most suitable changes, and only changes the community there wants and would, therefore, productively utilise.

Another valuable lesson I learnt from Fred, which has since influenced me (and I’m sure this lesson will always stay with me) is how rapidly and efficiently he acts. In times of disaster, such as when floods were affecting Mae Sot, Fred isn’t the sort to wait around but instead he immediately acts with the most sincere intentions for the well-being of aiding the community.

The work Eyes to Burma does is remarkable. After witnessing all of the above, I felt a strong impulse to donate towards the cause and when mentioning this to Fred his response stays with me. So far, other charities I’ve expressed a desire to donate to would prefer to take the funds into their own hands or into a particular pot; however, Fred instead told me how I can use that money myself to help that community and he highlighted how all 20+ kids there are in need of new school uniforms. That’s exactly what we did, Fred took me and the kids into town and I purchased all of them new school uniforms – I certainly can’t forget the joy in those lovely young children’s faces, a truly wonderful experience.

Thank you Fred, and thank you Eyes to Burma. I wish you continued on-going success.

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