Life-saving Wachet Hospital in Sagaing

Wachet Hospital in Sagaing Hills.
Wachet Hospital in Sagaing Hills.

A hospital in upper Myanmar whose mission is to treat monks, nuns, the poor and the marginalised free of charge that was started nearly 40 years ago with only Ks10,000 announced yesterday it had raised over Ks100 billion.
A festive and joyful communal libation ceremony was held to mark the occasion of rising eternal funds hitting 1000 million Myanmar Kyats accrued by people’s centered Jivitadhana Sangha Hospital in the Sagaing Hills attended by members of Sangha, committee members and well wishers on the moving “Royal Ayeyawaddy Cruise Boat” in Yangon River on the cool morning of Saturday 6 January 2018.
In the recent past, the Wachet Village and many similar surrounding small villages are situated in the remote northeast area of Sagaing in the Sagaing Hills on the west bank of Ayeyawaddy River. The cluster of villages are only accessible from Sagaing Town by passenger boats manually moved by oars only up to a point called “Hlay Seik” literally “boat terminal”. Then villagers had to walk a long way by foot about four miles to reach Wachet Village and the surrounding villages.
It was an agonizing and distressing ordeal to send and carry a patient from the surrounding villages to Sagaing Hospital or to Mandalay Hospital.
Most of the critical and terminally ill patients in these villages remained at home suffering and embracing all the worst agonies and pains rather than travelling muddy, slippery and bumpy village pathways to the “boat terminal” and then riding on the shaking boat on the sprawling Ayeyawaddy River to reach Sagaing.
Instead they were prepared to die, having no better choice.
No doctor. No clinic. No dispensary.
These villages remained in darkness for many decades.

Wind of Change
It was a windy evening of 29 March 1980.
There were two very old banyan trees standing tall side by side on the soft muddy earth near the same space where the existing Wachet Hospital is to be established in a few years later in 1984. Under the two banyan trees there were two old dilapidated communal rest houses called “Cardu Dita” for the local travelers to rest for a while or sleep overnight, mostly used by local fishermen and farm hands.
At sunset, local people in the villages began their dinner. A typical day’s catch for a fisherman is enough for a meal, while some lucky fishermen may pull in one of the river’s giant catfish. Lifestyles are simple, easy, straightforward and undemanding in Myanmar. Most of the fishermen and farmers from the surrounding villages spent their time on the communal rest houses.
A strong storm with might and anger suddenly rolled across the Ayeyawaddy River and hit hard to the west bank. Many trees including the two banyan trees collapsed and the communal rest houses blown away into thin air and gone with the wind. The big trees near the areas were also fallen down and some uprooted.
Nearly all the small houses and dwellings were also collapsed. Some good houses with corrugated tin roof were also damaged to certain extent.
The strong storm had left the community with misery.

Kyaswa Sayadaw Bhaddanta Dr. Lakkhana
Bhaddanta Dr. Lakkhana, who was born in 1935 in Kadaw Village, Myingyan Township, Mandalay Region (formerly Division) of Upper Myanmar, later became the founder of the existing Wachet Jivitadhana Sangha Hospital in Sagaing Hills.

From Small Hut to Standard Hospital
The original owner of the two communal rest houses was Tharyawaddy Sayadaw also known as Ashin Arseinda Maha Thero in Sagaing Hills. Immediately after the storm that devastated the area, the senior monk requested and assigned Kyaswa Sayadaw Dr. Lakkhana to rebuild the two communal rest houses for the benefit of local community.
Kyaswa Sayadaw accepted the request to rebuild the communal rest houses in their original site.
Coincidentally, Retired Divisional Commissioner U Kyi arrived at Kyaswa Religious Resort in Sagaing Hills. At that time, U Kyi was the Chairman of the Myanmar Red Cross Association.

People’s Centered Concept
While taking up discussion on various religious matters, Kyaswa Sayadaw was of the view that the vacant space left by communal rest houses should be utilized as small dispensary or basic health care unit that may benefit the rural community, who suffered lack of health care facility.
In response, Retired Divisional Commissioner U Kyi agreed to build a small structure for the purpose of health clinic. The Myanmar Red Cross Association Chairman was of the view that the opening of a health care center was in line with the government policy for rural development. He promised to assist as much as possible in the realization of the small health care unit.

It started only with Ks10,000
As of 13 May 1980, the leading Sayadaws namely Kyaswa Sayadaw, Hanthargiri Sayadaw, Yadana Man Aung Sayadaw, and Pali Cari Sayadaw contributed Ks10,000 as initial budget.
With some cash in hands, the auspicious ground breaking ceremony for dispensary was held on 15 June 1980. In the following days, the members of Sangha and the lay disciples including the village community participated in cash and kind and also in labor to start rolling of the building of communal dispensary.
Establishing a hospital in the remote Sagaing Hills was not an easy project, and raising funds to run and operate the day to day activities of the hospital was herculean task.
There have been spates of questions cropped up and, therefore, revered and leading monks and local elders find solution to address them. Due to the meager budget allocation in the health sector in the country, monks and nuns were mostly left neglected without any medical care or primary health service for those living in very ascetic life in the remote places among the hills.
With these backdrops, a group of thoughtful “da jakas” (lay devotees and donors) planned to set up a free service hospital at Sagaing Hills. Then they started in lobbying and soliciting charity and donation from the well wishers. After receiving initial funds, they built a ten-bedded hospital through the collection of donations. The hospital was founded on 20 October 1984 at Wachet Village at the foot of the Sagaing Hills on the west bank of the mighty Ayeyawaddy River, opposite to Metropolitan Mandalay City. Mandalay is the third-largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar.
Though the hospital was small in size, but it was cost-effective. At that juncture, it could serve four to five thousand people every year. As the sweet smell of success and flagrance of good news of the hospital spread beyond the Sagaing Hills, the number of patients goes up high every year, and the sufferer, invalid, and sick patients increased. The demand, request, call and claim indicated for hospital expansion.
The primary purpose and principal objective of this hospital is to offer free medical services to the monks, nuns, lay persons especially poor, marginalized, underprivileged and vulnerable patients residing in the area of Sagaing Hills. At the hospital, there is no unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, sex, social or religious discrimination.
Myanmar doctors, physicians, specialists, trained professionals and local nurses are attending and giving medical treatment without discrimination to the patients from upper Myanmar and elsewhere of the country. Foreign medical specialists and teams are assisting the Myanmar medical teams the whole year round coming in and going out sharing their expertise and imparting training.
Main Leading Venerable Buddhist Monk Kyaswa Sayadaw Bhaddhanta Dr. Lakkhana, Agga Maha Kamahtana Sariya, Agga Maha Saddhamma Zawtika, has already laid down five-point Resolutions some years ago. The Supervisory Committee of Wachet Jivitadhana Sangha Hospital in Sagaing Hills has embraced the resolutions of Sayadaw as its guiding principles and vowed to uphold these mottos in their daily activities for the mankind.

good things and better atmosphere while having the opportunity to be a human being.
2. I will employ my mind and body in all the beneficial acts and valuable performances while getting a rare chance of possessing physical existence.
3. I will develop my human mental power while in possession of the brain for the fruitful outcomes and advantages of all mankind.
4. I will exert my human energy while it is still active and energetic for the constructive impact and better achievements.
5. I will pour out all my worldly resources while it is in certainty and realism for the comfort and happiness of human beings.

Fund raising comes a long way.
The Eternal Funds of the hospital first reached 100 million Myanmar Kyats on 3 March 2013.
The process speeded up along with the collective efforts of the Committee Members of Lower Myanmar and Upper Myanmar Logistic and Support Bodies.
As of now, the Eternal Funds is raised to 1000 million Myanmar Kyats with the joyful communal libation ceremony on Saturday 6 January 2018.
The Wachet Hospital is running well, but not smooth as silk on budget matters.

Remarkable exhortations being spelled out
Wachet Hospital Sangha Executive Committee Chairperson Bhaddhanta Thadhama Daja Maha Thero told the congregation that the successive members of various committees since their inception in the 1980s were working in line with Sila, Samadi and Panna, and then by handing down the good characteristics and disciplines to the successive and current members. Therefore, the Wachet Hospital is prospering.
The Chairwoman of Lower Myanmar Committee told the congregation that she have contributed cash and kind for the hospital for more than (30) years and pledged to donate more in the years ahead.
The outspoken Honorary Secretary candidly and honesty declared that she was extremely happy to witness the rising eternal funds of (1000) million Myanmar Kyats as of today and that she would work to the best of her ability heart and soul to hit (2000) million Myanmar Kyats for the Eternal Funds as the monthly operation and running cost of the Wachet Hospital stands out around (30) million Myanmar Kyats, and the number of patients increased.
Next, the happy communal libation ceremony came to a successful closing by reciting “Buddham Saranam Teikthahtu”.
The author of the article would like to wrap up that the Wachet Hospital in the Sagaing Hills is a life saving venue that could be emulated and replicated especially in remote areas across Myanmar for the rural health care with the people’s centered concept.

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