• What is that ‘stuff’ on the children’s faces?

It is called ‘tanakha’ and it has a rich history in Burma being in use for over 2,000 years. It is made out of tree pulp from a perennial tree grown in central Burma and it is sold in powdered form at local markets. The powder is obtained from the bark and roots of the tree and it is said that a tree must be at least 35 years old to bear premium ‘tanakha’ powder.  The powder is placed onto a flat stone and a small amount of water is added. A mortar is used to blend the powder into a paste that is then applied to the face (usually after a bath).

Women (and children) use it in daily life to cool and refresh the skin and it also a natural way to protect skin from the sun. The word tanakha actually means ‘cleansing agent’ and ‘cosmetic for beautifying the face’. It is used also in ceremonies as face painting is a sign of cultural significance, nobility and purity. 

  • What conditions do BCMF treat?

BCMF funds the treatment of many conditions including congenital heart disease; hydrocephalus (‘water on the brain’); imperforate anus (a malformation of the rectum); retinoblastoma (affecting the eye); meningocele (large growths, usually located on the lower back associated with spina bifida); club foot; hypospadias (a birth defect of the urethra in males); Hirschprung’s disease (a congenital condition affecting the bowels); and we have recently piloted the treatment of a young boy with thalassaemia (a blood disease).

Burma Adult Medical Fund treats special adult cases who present at the Mae Tao Clinic with a condition that can be corrected by minor surgery or treatment in Chiang Mai (using the same referral process as BCMF).  We are also trying to gain funding to treat women with gynaecological conditions at Mae Sot Hospital. These conditions include uterine prolapsed; uterine mass; ovarian cysts; and women who have sustained damage to their birth canal during childbirth.

Please see ‘Conditions we treat’ for more information.

  • What languages are used at BCMF by staff, patients and carers?

Burma has many diverse cultural and ethnic groups each of which has their own distinct language. Burmese and Karen (P’wo and Sgaw) are the most common languages spoken by BCMF patients (and staff). Staff at BCMF also speak English and Thai. Fluency in Thai is essential when navigating the process needed to gain authority to get our patients to Chiang Mai and it is also used at the hospitals where are patients are treated. We have translators and interpreters available who are proficient in a number of languages to ensure that our patients and carers are able to understand the medical procedures and communicate with doctors and nurses. 

More about Burmese language and Burmese script. Find out about Karen Language (Sgaw) and Thai language.  

  • How can I help?

There are many things you can do to help. You can make a donation (one-off or monthly),visit or join our Facebook and Youtube pages, sign-up for our e-news, sponsor a van, tell your friends about us and/or organise a fundraiser. See ‘Get Involved’ for more information.