Going back to the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital was quite an emotional experience. Mosha (age 4) has grown a least a foot (no pun intended) taller since I saw her last August, but is still as playful as ever. She was very curious to sniff the new volunteers and was walking around on her temporary prostheses. She’s growing so fast the Prostheses Foundation is going to have to make her another soon!
Motala (age 49), on the other hand, is wearing her protective white bag over her stump again because her updated prostheses was irritating the sensitive skin on her stump. Thankfully, the Prostheses Foundation is coming back tomorrow to build her a new prostheses. Stay tuned for pictures!
Seeing Boonmee and Mae Ka Pae, the newest landmine survivors at FAE, was very hard. Mae Ka Pae, (age 22), who injured her hind leg after stepping on a landmine along the Thai-Myanmar border in August, is able to walk slightly better than when she first arrived at FAE. It’s still painful to watch her limp, but Dr. Preecha says her wound is healing well enough that they don’t think they’ll need to amputate her leg.
Boonmee (age 10) is another story. Her front leg looks like an exploded flower and is not healing well, but Soraida Salwala, FAE’s founder, is more concerned about her depression. This is the first time Boonmee has been separated from her mother and, on top of that, her mahout (owner) ran away and deserted her at FAE a month ago. Elephants are such emotional and social animals that this heartache can cause them to die from the loss.
When we first saw her, Boonmee’s eyes were totally glassed over. Then, Jodi Frediani, Anne Snowball and Patty Coogan (three of the volunteers traveling with me) began using their T-Touch and Craniosacral therapy on Boonmee and she began to weep, letting go of some of her emotional and physical trauma. She began to open up and soon was allowing Jodi, Anne and Patty to peel and feed her bananas. It was amazing to see this shift and her willingness to connect with us.
Later in the afternoon, Jodi, Anne, and Patty explained T-Touch and taught Dr. Kay and two of FAE’s mahouts (John and Somchai) three T-Touches, while Soraida translated. The staff at FAE were very receptive and picked up the touches quickly.
Then all six went down and tried the T-Touches on Motala and Mosha. After some initial confusion on the parts of the elephants, they liked it enough that each started presenting areas to be worked on. Motala even presented her amputated leg for the women to work on and remove some of the pain from her stump!
It was quite an experience to be back and witness another dimension of the healing and growth at FAE–and this is only the beginning! We’re here for four more days, so stay tuned.
Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand