Tun Lin Aung
We first met Tun Lin Aung in December last year following a referral from the Mae Tao Clinic where he had been an inpatient for a short period.
Tun Lin Aung had a road traffic accident in November of last year on the highway not far from the centre of Mae Sot. Fortunately on this occasion the driver of the car stopped and paid for him to attend Mae Sot general hospital where he remained in intensive care for over a month and was really quite poorly.
He sustained a significant brain injury leaving him with weakness throughout one side of his body, a fractured jaw and multiple soft tissue injuries throughout his body. He required surgery to his jaw and had a tracheotomy to help him with his breathing. He made steady progress over the course of 6 weeks and was then subsequently discharged from Mae Sot General and transferred for further rehab and care at the Mae Tao Clinic.
Following his short in-patient stay he was discharged from the clinic with the plan for community follow up from the Stepping Stones therapy team.
When we first met Tun Lin Aung he was very wobbly on his feet and required a wheelchair to get around. He had a significant hemiplegia and was getting shoulder pain as a result of the low tone around his shoulder girdle. He was having daily falls and was unable to feed himself. He was living at the back of the Mae Tao Clinic with his mum and step-dad who had been unable to work since his accident as they were having to meet all of his care needs. Tun Lin Aung was very chatty and bubbly but had some behavioural issues as a result of his brain injury that his family needed support to help manage.
We provided Tun Lin Aung with an exercise programme to help work on his co-ordination and balance and also some equipment to help progress his mobility skills. He made progress over the coming weeks and started to be able to walk short distances without the use of his wheelchair but was still prone to falls. He did however start to be able to feed himself and take himself to the toilet which was great progress.
Unfortunately since his accident Tun Lin Aung had not been able to go to school and was really missing all his friends. We visited the school and made numerous attempts to re-integrate him back into school life. Sadly this was not possible as the school felt unable to accommodate his needs as he required 1:1 support. His mum started to go to school with him as the school felt they were not able to give this support. However this meant that mum had to give up her few days of work that she had recently started to do as a vegetable seller outside the clinic. We tried to resolve this situation with meetings at the school but Mum felt the situation to be hopeless and said that she did not wish for him to attend the school any longer but to look for alternatives.
The lack of work combined with Tun Lin Aung’s regular medical reviews at Mae Sot General, plunged the family into further debt and after a period of a couple of months they found themselves in significant debt which they were unable to repay. The landlord subsequently dismantled their hut at the back of the Mae Tao clinic as they fell behind on their rental payments and so they found themselves homeless.
Mum and dad’s mental health started to suffer and mum became increasingly anxious and worried about how she would support Tun Lin Aung.
The Stepping Stones therapy team continued to provide practical support during this time - arranging for food bags from the Mae Tao Clinic, seeking support from the child protection team and referring him to another local NGO to provide support for rice and food when possible. The family were able to build a small tin hut to provide some shelter.
At the same time we were also running our football project with Play On Side - a local NGO run by a Spanish and Norwegian couple of lads. We invited Tun Lin Aung to come along on a Thursday night to play some football with other disabled children to help provide a welcome distraction from the social difficulties that the family were experiencing. His mum also came along and met some of the other players as well as Javi, Ole and Piso who run Play On Side. This also gave the opportunity for mum to have a break for an hour or so which she enjoyed.
Tun Lin Aung loved football and soon made friends and scored some goals! His physical skills have progressed well - he is now able to walk un-aided for around 15 minutes before getting tired and is using his hemiplegic arm quite well in functional activities. His shoulder pain has improved and we have been trying some taping to help support this.
Play On Side developed a bit of a soft spot for Tun Lin Aung and his captivating personality and after hearing his story and the difficulties the family were facing in terms of financial struggle with little chance of resolve, they were keen to help. After some consideration and negotiation they were able to offer mum a position as caretaker at the new football pitches that Play on Side are currently building. Mum was thrilled to be able to accept the position and to receive a regular salary! She is taking to her new role well and is looking forward to the start of the football season due to start in June.
Tun Lin Aung has also been referred to Starflower school and after an assessment by the headteacher they have agreed that he can start at the school in May for two days a week. He is really looking forward to it and already knows some of the children there from his football sessions, so he should hopefully settle in well.
It has been a really challenging and difficult time for the whole family but with the support of Starflower, Play on Side and the Stepping Stones therapy team there is now a bit of light at the end of the tunnel for Tun Lin Aung and his family! Mum reports to be much happier and Tun Lin Aung has put on weight and seems to be thriving more. He is continuing to make some progress with his physical abilities that we hope will only get better with our ongoing support.