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August 12, 2020

Soup kitchens, Food, Water and Blood Donations that deserve a mention

Before I recognized it, it reached nearly 5 months that I had been here, to be exact, at the Department of Clinical Hematology, Yangon General Hospital. At the very start of my stay, I busied myself with caring for my son suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia and running errands for him, hence the failure to notice an activity in the immediate vicinity.  It is a pleasing scene that is worth mentioning for everyone to know. It is none other than a collectively done purified drinking water donation by a group of well-wishers with vested interests. “Going on a 7-day fast or going without water for a morning period will put you to a sure death”, as a Myanmar saying goes. A scarcity of drinking water is a ubiquitous problem in our country. Our people are receiving cost-sharing and F.O.C health care services provided by the government more than before. It is undeniable that the water problem, albeit it is one of the basic amenities for the important place like this, cannot be dealt with properly. Much as most of the Yangonians know very well that water is a problem for all city dwellers, they are in the habit of paying little heed to the frugal use of water. Nowadays we all consume purified drinking water and it also, in return, consumes much of our budgets. The YGH can be said to be a confluence of patients from all walks of life as it can afford to give the best treatments and health care services with the help of elite medical doctors and state-of-the art medical equipments. Among them, a few belong to the upper echelons, some are from the middle class and most are the poor. Especially, it will be more appropriate to be called a dependable place for poor patients with terminal illnesses. It is a real fact that some attendants, far from spending money on buying delicious and nutritious food for their patients, had ever been found to live on meager food available nearby at cheap price. As the saying “the early bird catches the worm” goes, they too are early risers to fetch water daily and sometimes glutinous rice together at this soup kitchen. Here, I think it needs to be described about the emergence of the Samaritan group. It was said that the very first donor occasionally offered glutinous rice and useful commodities to patients at the YGH, of their own accord. On seeing eager crowd queuing for alms, passers-by and other interested persons joined the donor to contribute their money into donation. Thus, it became a relatively large confraternity which can fulfill the requirement of the drinking water for needy patients to the extent of satisfaction. At a conservative estimate, the amount of purified drinking water donated daily would be 2500 liters. It may be small in amount in someone’s opinion, but willingness of the well-wishers is great and we must acknowledge it. In such a hard time, a loaf of bread and a bowl of food may be likened to ambrosia for hungry mouths. Come and get a vicarious thrill out of watching the above-said regular morning donation. In our country, there can be many a soup kitchen seen in many places, especially in our Buddhist Lent. They are open to all. Would that those well-wishers joined the philanthropic organizations’ activities at such needy places. As known, there emerged in the country many independent nonprofit organizations, charities and helpful foundations.
I am not finding fault with other’s weakness. Admittedly, a lot of money is being budgeted for the health care of the public by the government, but it cannot solve yet all problems in all aspects of the nation to the full. Far be it from me to interfere in the administration work of the authorities concerned of the hospital, but I would like to give my humble advice that distribution of water to the wards and stopping the wastage of water be carefully supervised, so as not to face the water shortage problem. Due to the negligence of staff assigned for storage and distribution of water to all wards of the campus, there had been few occasions when we had no water to flush sewage down the toilet. On the part of patients too, they need to know the importance of energy and water they get free of charge. They should be concurrently warned not to be extravagant with water and to conserve energy. In fact, each and every one of us is responsible to actively and voluntarily participate for the betterment of our society.
Another noble deed that should go other than uninformed is blood donation. As known by all, blood is vital for life and life depends on blood. Sometime in the past, we found it difficult to find blood donors when we needed to have blood transfused. At that time, blood can be said to be a precious commodity. Money cravers and money-grubbers tried to sell their blood at high price. In critical condition, people of wealth and influence could lavish much money to get blood. Yet nowadays blood drives and mass blood donation groups emerged. We needn’t worry about our blood transfusion any longer, as much as before. Visitors coming to the National Blood Center daily as teams or individuals amount to a lot. Moreover, we can find out blood donors from posts in the face-book on the internet. Today there can be seen in our face-books critical appeals for rare blood, especially O negative blood and AB negative blood. In answer to mails of these appeals, there had been some donors who came, from afar, to donate blood, believing “Donating blood saves lives”. What a meritorious deed it is!  Without donors, we cannot get any blood. With increasing population in the world, demand for safe blood will still be greater than blood supply. Waiting period to donate blood is limited to 4 months from the previous donation. Plus, it is generally known that old people aged 55 and above are not allowed to donate because of feebleness and unlikelihood to replenish blood taken out. We should not take getting urgently-needed blood easily for granted. To fulfill our needs, we can make money by working. It had been heard that artificial blood has been being tested to be substituted for human blood, but it is, until now, impossible to manufacture blood with the use of nowadays’ advanced technology.
In the past too, our respected elders launched voluntary activities. For example, they founded the country’s first blood bank facility at Yangon General Hospital in 1945, now known as the National Blood Center. In those days, however, mass media was not good enough to propagate their activities and launch campaigns as in the present time. And little chance went to them to accomplish plans and activities as much as they wished. Wonderfully enough, most of those activists in the philanthropic works are youths. In this age when most are claiming “Self, self, self”, the obliging younger generation is depicting their noble inner self.  A youth’s mind is pure per se, as were ours in our younger days. But we had had a corrupt society. Who blackened us? Supreme power ruined men’s spirit, leading to a bad environment. Thanks to the modern technology, we went past the age of knowledge blackout. Now our youths have an access to the global knowledge bank through internet. Thus, they came to see non-governmental organizations and accommodating youths contributing voluntary labor and giving humanitarian aids to victims subject to natural disasters and scourges of wars. Influenced by peer pressure, our youngsters emulated, taking part in voluntary works. Around us are still many youths idling their hours away, playing games, spending in cafes and chatting something unimportant online. If we can ignite their hidden capacities and lead them to a paradigm shift on life, I dare say that everywhere will be full of active citizens.
May all citizens involve in activities for the betterment of our society!


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