I’ve just returned back to China and I will attempt here to eek out a blog post that will summarize the trip. Although several blog posts would be better to go through everything there is to tell, I have this tension about not exactly being a professional blogger.
The first part of the trip was to participate in a conference of colleagues working all over China serving in many different ways, doing many different things. One of the cool things about this gathering was that my colleagues hail from many different countries, and our conference is largely bilingual to accommodate the many people from another Asian nation working with us. Unfortunately, I cannot elaborate more on this due to security reasons, but if you want to know more, ask me in person sometime.
From Northern Thailand I went to Cambodia for ten days in Cambodia to 1) do a health services consultation; 2) to learn about the trafficking situation in general; and 3) assess and explore the needs of health care for the vulnerable and the victims as well as ways in which health professionals could get more involved. I met with many people representing different organizations (such as Chab Dai, World Hope International, Destiny Rescue, International Justice Mission, and Love146, to name a few) working in several different aspects of trafficking in persons from prevention to long-term aftercare. I am grateful for their willingness to spend so much time with me and answer my myriad questions! I learned so much – which would actually take several blog posts to unpack only a bit of it.
One of the main purposes of my visit was to do a health services consultation with Destiny Rescue. In addition to providing long term aftercare to girls and young women, they are also involved in community development as prevention work to combat human trafficking. This group understands the important point that a trafficked person’s vulnerability starts long before they find themselves an actual slave and that the process is often rooted in community and culture.
In consultation I do needs assessments of their projects at their respective sites, speaking with staff in various roles, often in focus group-style meetings. I asked many questions and they were very helpful and forthcoming with their own questions. It is actually quite a lot of fun to sit and share, learning and teaching at the same time. Sometimes I’m asked to do specific medical consultations, or address particular health questions. One thing that I’m now more careful to address is the care of the staff. To be holistic in approach to counter-trafficking efforts means taking good care of oneself and one’s staff.
After the consultation, and some debriefing with the leaders, I give a report of my observations and assessments with suggestions for what interventions could either be augmented or newly started. These may involve simple or complex, short or long term plans, but usually, no matter where I go, it is a beginning of a working relationship.
After Cambodia, I went back to Chiang Mai, Thailand for a CMDA-CMDE meeting. Every year, like-minded doctors (mostly, but not exclusively, American) committed to overseas medical work take their own time off and pay their own way to provide overseas partners such as myself with training to give us not only continuing medical education (CME) credit but equip us to do things we encounter in the field that a western medical education never prepared us to tackle (like dental extractions or tetanus). Field partners are also invited to give lectures in their respective specialties: I gave a talk on human trafficking and my colleague Eva presented on humanitarian crises, with a focus on children.
Nearly two weeks of rich fellowship, medical learning and shop talk, worship, networking, meetings, and of course lots of fun! I look forward to seeing friends here from all over the world that I only get to see every two years at this conference (a sister conference is held the other years in Africa) and I always meet new friends as well. There was also ample face-time with people with whom I collaborate on projects where we normally only get to email and skype with each other, so that was an added bonus.
Os Guinness was our main speaker for the conference – what a blessing it was to hear him speak and expound on ideas of globalization, communication, and the Christian’s role and purpose and way in this 21st Century. Foundational, it truly is no different from a 1st century Christian’s. However, remaining true to Love in this fast-paced, twitter-faced, information-saturated, modern-rated, speed-dated world (my words, not Os’s) of ours requires tools for examining our history and recognizing where we are in the present in order to prepare for the future. To be not conforming, but transforming.
As usual, I have not one photo of me to prove that I have all this work and all these friends around the world like I say I do! One of these days I’ll start remembering!
Now back in Shenyang, I get to continue to process this as well as move on to the new work and upcoming projects! Looking forward to writing more about it!