How did I find her in Thailand : Dr. Krisana Kraisintu, “The Gypsy Medicine Maker”?
Terrible news seems to find its way onto the front page of the daily newspapers in Thailand. There is plenty of criminal news waiting and catching the eyes of the Thai readers every morning. Sometimes, we see photos of the victims of crimes and their dead bodies covered with blood. It is not easy to find good news or good articles about people with noble hearts who devote their lives to better the lives of others in the Thai media. The positive articles tend to hide from the viewers that we must look hard to find them.
The piece of paper which I took out from the rubbish bin about the story of one Thai lady very much surprised me. The remarkable story of her life further confounded me after I received many forwarded emails about her in my personal mailbox in 2007. The story of a Thai Gypsy medicine maker who travels to teach Africans to manufacture antiretroviral drugs against HIV/AIDS in Africa and who continues to fight for the right of people living with HIV/AIDS to gain treatment on this planet. The world praises her work but Thai people hardly know about her.
I had never heard of this lady before. None of my friends had known of this Thai Gypsy medicine maker. Having read her story from the forwarded emails, I thought that it could only be a drama story which could not happen in real life. If it was a true story, this lady might be very crazy to do that kind of silly work, putting years of efforts to invent the HIV/AIDS medicine, then teach and give it to other people for free.
I was very doubtful of the truthfulness of her story. I checked the facts of her story from internet again and again. Thanks to Google, a hundred of links finally made me realize that it was a true story. I cannot help feeling impressed by this Thai Gypsy medicine maker. I found out that her name was Dr.Krisana Kraisintu but many people loved to call her “ Gypsy medicine maker”. This name resonates well with her because she always travels to faraway destinations in order to give sick people the right to live:
Who is she? Where does she come from? I searched for her biography from google. Finally I discovered the following information:
The first Thai pharmacist who invented the new formula of HIV/AIDS medicine in Thailand.
The person whose pharmaceutical achievements propelled Thailand to become the first country in the world where HIV infected patients can get free treatment.
The first pharmacist who embarked on the task of teaching poor countries how to make HIV/AIDS medicine.
The first pharmaceutical teacher who works and travels as gypsy to Africa.
The first Thai pharmacist whose charity work has always been written by foreign reporters and published in international newspapers.
The work of the first Thai pharmacist to be staged on Board way in USA.
The Thai pharmacist whom multinational pharmaceutical corporations despise and tried to hurt.
The powerful Thai woman fighting for the right to live for Thailand and the poor.
The first Thai pharmacist whom the world is amazed to learn of her life journey.
Having learned so many details about her from the internet, I was very impressed by her devotion and commitment to her humanitarian work. As soon as I finished reading her story, I made a short note in my notebook and water color diary. I wrote the short note explaining how her life inspired me. I also drew her portrait in my water color diary in order to make it the most attractive feature in my personal diary. I wanted to keep this message and paint her portrait in my note book in order to give me encouragement and lift my spirits whenever I felt bad about this world.
Two hours later, I got a replied email from someone who wrote, “ I am the owner of this email. My name is Krisana. Thanks for the lovely painting. Would you mind if I would like to keep your original painting in my diary for my self-encouragement. This is my telephone number xxxxx. “
As soon as I finished reading her email, I made a phone call to her.
"Hello Madam, Kibangkok is speaking. I am the person who drew your portrait. I got your telephone number from your replied email.”
“Madam…May I call you as “A-jarn (Thai language meaning Teacher”. If you do not mind, I would like to call you A-jarn because you are the great pharmaceutical teacher in the world. Your life is the great lesson for me. After I got your email, I was very excited to give my painting to you immediately. I would like to meet you as soon as I could. I do not want to wait because you are always in Africa…..”
“ Yeh…yeh…Great..When I can meet you???? Oh…5 p.m. at the coffee shop near the train station.!!! Excellent!!! Ok..see you tomorrow A-jarn”
The person on the phone made me very curious. I wondered if this woman was the real Dr. Krisana or not. If she was the real Dr. Krisana, why she allowed me to meet her so easily?. Most world famous people would never agree like this. If she was the real Dr.Krisana, I would be incredibly lucky to meet her. Even if she was not Dr. Krisana, it would be good to meet a new friend. I do not mind.
It would be such a great time if I could meet Dr. Krisana personally. It would be the first time that I could see the famous lady personally. I was very excited that I thought I should go to the meeting place early to wait for her, to show my respect for her. If I arrived there later than her, it would be considered impolite in Thai culture that I made the senior person wait for the young. I must be there earlier than Dr. Krisana.
As soon as I arrived at the coffee shop where we were supposed to meet, I saw a couple of senior ladies sitting in the shop. I recognized one grey hair lady who looked similar to the photo that I saw on the website. She may be Dr.Krisana but she looked kinder than the lady whom I saw on the website.
“ Excuse me? Are you Dr.Krisana? I raise my hand as the lotus (Wai) on my chest to show my greeting and respect to her. “ Sawasdee Krab…This is my painting. I would like to give it to you. It is a small gift from me. I am very impressed by your devotion. I hope that you would love my painting.”
We talked for an hour. It was a wonderful time for me. I would like to share the conversation between me and Dr.Krisana as the following:
Kibangkok: Thank you very much for visiting my web-blog at www.oknation.net/blog/thaithai/krisana. I put your portrait and a short story about you on my web-blog. Your story suprises many Thais at the moment.
Dr.Krisana: Thank you very much for your painting. I love it. As soon as I received your email, I forwarded it to my mother and relatives. Everyone enjoys it.
Kibangkok: Why does your face look very different from the person whom I see on the internet. The person on the internet looks aggressive and unfriendly.
Dr.Krisana: Opp… This is my face. I guess when I am working, my facial expression is not very friendly. Generally, I am an accessible person. Everyone can reach me. When I was young, I dreamt to become a musician. I would like to work as a conductor, guiding the music and the musical instruments. I love all kinds of arts. That is why I would like to meet you today. Are you working as an artist? Are you making the painting for sale? You may have graduated from the art university? Ummm….. Why does your actual face look very different from your icon on your weblog?
Kibangkok....Ha.ha…my web-blog icon is my portrait when I become the 65 year old boy. I believe that my face will be like that when I get old. I am not the artist. I graduated from the business university but I love the water color. I paint it and share it to others on my web-blog. All my paintings are being kept in my book case, not for sale. I would like to look at all of my paintings when I reach retirement.
Kibangkok.... What inspired you to dedicate your time to better the healthcare of Africans? I do not understand. When I see black people, they look intimidating. Africa must be dangerous. If I were you, I would stay in Thailand, earning money and enjoy my life. I would not want to torture myself and go through all kinds of suffering in Africa.
Dr.Krisana: Many Thai people do not know Africa. I reckon you do not really know about it young brother. Africa is very beautiful. I love Africa, especially the African people. They are simple. They live a simple life. They are not dangerous. The African children have beautiful faces. If you look closely into the children’s eyes, you will see that even though they are black, their eyes express liveliness and happiness. They are loving eyes. If you pay attention, you will fall for them. I also love their cultures and way of life. They live simply, similar to the life in rural Thailand. When they meet on the way, they greet each other warmly. I’ve heard some of them sing beautiful local songs. It sounds cheerful, lively and makes me very happy. I am happy to talk to them.
Kibangkok.... A-jarn krub. I will be honest with you. If I were you and could invent the antiretroviral drugs, I would sell the patent right and make a huge amount of money. Why did you decide to give it for free and then travel to Africa to teach them for free? I am very confused by your decision and action?
Dr.Krisana: It is love and compassion. When I see the depth of the children’s eyes, I can see their souls. I feel sympathy for them. If my goal were to make profits, I would not have devoted years of my life inventing the HIV/AIDS drugs. My happiness is here in my heart. I feel it. No amount of money in the world could give me this happiness. I understand, to be precise, I understand the human souls much more now. Some people suspect that I must be HIV positive. That must be my incentives to sacrifice my life for this goal. They cannot believe that a person could selflessly help others. They cannot imagine who would do what I’ve done. For the records, I am not HIV positive. I do not care what other people may say. I follow my own goal and ideal. If no human could see and understand my intention, God knows all the small details of it. It is useless to argue with other people who think otherwise.
Kibangkok....( I thought to myself. My Goodness, how could other people ever think that this lady is HIV positive?!. She looks very healthy, well… almost overweight. What chain of HIV virus could make her become like a big apple…ha…ha…ha)
Kibangkok.... Honestly, I thought about it too. Most people who are not infected or do not know anyone living with HIV/AIDS do not usually pay attention or become interested in the story of your life. I got interested and impressed by your story because I have a problem with my kidney. Although I may not suffer as much as people infected with HIV/AIDS, I pray for scientists/ pharmacists to invent medicines to cure kidney diseases. Nowadays, more and more people die of kidney diseases and kidney failure. People who get sick because their kidneys cannot function normally feel hopeless and desperate. If someone could give them hope one day like what you’ve done, I think it would make such a difference in their lives. I am very impressed by you because you give people hope and inspiration. People with intractable diseases would understand my feelings. If my friends have kidney problems (God forbids), they would understand why I eager to learn more about you and your life.
Kibangkok....I wonder if the foreigners really made a film about your work and your life A-jarn
Dr.Krisana: Yes, it is true. The play and the documentaries that are broadcasted worldwide are based on my work in the Congo which was the first country that I traveled to pioneer teaching the locals to manufacture HIV/AIDS medicines. I still do not know why the foreigners were very interested and wanted to tell my story on films. Something about what I do may have caught their imagination. When I was working in the Congo, some foreign journalists working for foreign newspapers pursued me and often wrote news articles about me. The Board way took the inspiration from my story in the Congo to make a play on stage. It was very well received and became quite a phenomenon.
The most exciting moment was when I traveled to Germany, all the leading German newspapers and magazines sent their journalists and correspondents to interview me. One very famous German newspaper published my interview in 5 full pages. Of course, I gave the interviews for free. If I charge in Thai baht, it would be a lot of money.(joke)
Kibangkok....How did the Thai people know about your story A-jaran krub?
Dr.Krisana: Thai people started to hear about me from Pantip website. They gossip, make Q&A. One person prompted a question,” If Dr. Krisana sees her story on the Pantip website, would she reply to my question?” In fact, I saw the question on the website and immediately responded to it. The person who raised the question probably thought that I did not exist, ha..ha..(laugh). I access internet on a regular basis. I saw your email on Friday, then I replied to it and also forwarded the photo of your painting of me to my mother. My mother told me that the painting looked more like me when I was younger, ha.ha.
Kibangkok....Has the Thai media followed your story and interviewed you?
Dr.Krisana: Yes, the Nation newspaper sent a journalist to interview me long time ago. I cut and kept that article because I liked the photo that the journalist took. Some TV programmes also contacted me for interviews. In addition, I see articles about me on the websites, on web-blogs, forwarded emails and so on. A few weeks ago, one journalist from the Nation came to interview me and told me that he wanted to create a website dedicated to telling people about my work. I have to look in my diary who exactly as there have been many journalists who interviewed me. I do not remember all the details.
This Monday, the show,” Morning Talk” on TV 11 will come to interview me on video here. After this interview, I will disappear from Thailand for a little while to do some personal work.
Kibangkok....Why are you going to disappear from Thailand for a short while and where are you going krub A-jaran?
Dr.Krisana: The location remains a secret. I cannot tell you. I would like to go to live in a simple and quiet place and concentrate on writing a pocket book about my work. One publishing house approached me to write a book and I already said yes and gave all the photos of my work in Africa. I have not thought about the plot of the book yet. I am a little worried about what to write. I am always very busy so I must try to find a quiet place and start writing a book. One idea is to write about my work based on the diaries that I write daily. Nevertheless, if I write too much from the diaries, the readers may get bored reading some private nonsense about someone. It is embarrassing for me to write some praises about myself. The readers would be very bored, don’t you think?
I am a little worried how the book would transpire. So I need to disappear from Thailand for some time to focus on my ideas, hopefully it will help to bring out interesting viewpoints to present and tell to the readers. The book will be about Africa and some parts of my work there. I hope to finish it by September this year. The publisher told me that it would organize the opening function for my book at B to S shop in Central World. If you have time, please consider joining me to give me moral support on the day.
I still do not know if anyone will buy my book. I am not a celebrity, movie star or famous person in Thailand. If no one buys my book, I wouldn’t be disappointed. I will write because I would like to share some good stories with the Thai readers.
Kibangkok....I am one of the people who are interested in your story and eager to know more about Gypsy pharmacist, why you make long and difficult journeys to Africa? Perhaps I could understand the reasons you are very keen on the African people especially children. Are there some things special about them that you make many sacrifices? I think your book will be very interesting. I am one of the readers who want to find out many answers from your book. Hope you can write it quickly. I will wait to read it. I believe that many people will be excited to know that A-jarn is going to release a pocket book soon.
(The readers, please raise your hands… who want to read the book of this Gypsy pharmacist?)
Dr.Krisana: Thank you. At least I will buy some of the books and give to the students in my hometown in Samui Island. I would like to tell my impressions and memories of Africa that many Thai people never experience. They are beautiful stories that always bring happiness to me.
Kibangkok.... Ajarn krub. Before we part, may I take some of your pictures in Africa? I would like to put them on my web-blog so people can see.
Kibangkok....Ajarn krub. What would you like to do later on?
Dr.Krisana: I would like to start a small business… to open a small coffee shop that also displays all the souvenirs that I brought from Africa. The coffee will be from Africa. It will be a small shop. I don’t expect to make a lot of profit. I only wish to provide a pleasant place for people to relax in my home town, Samui. If I have time, I would like to teach small children there. It will make me very happy.
Kibangkok....Thank you very much for today. I am very honoured to meet you and grateful that you took time to talk to me. I only hoped to meet you in order to give you the water color painting. Thank you very much for sharing with me wonderful stories. I am very glad to learn more about a noble person with a big heart like you. Thank you very much for giving an ordinary person like me an opportunity to meet you today.
I have another painting that I would like to give to you. The title of the paining is “Love is light”
After I talked to you on the phone, I was very happy and wanted to do something for you. So I imagined that if I were you, how happy would I be to have an opportunity in my life like you do to make a difference in people’s life. Therefore, I sketched an old lady hand in hand with a small girl, guiding her to the light between narrow buildings. I would like to tell you that your life inspires people like this lady who brings hope into people’s life and makes their lives better.
Ajarn krub, when your book comes out, please promise to sell one copy and sign it for me. I will put this promise on my web-blog http://www.oknation.net/blog/thaithai/2007/08/04/entry-1. Please don’t forget. (laugh)
This article was an interview that was presented in Thai language on the website of in August 2007 by Blogger of KiBangkok at http://www.oknation.net/blog/thaithai/2007/08/04/entry-1
This article was translated from Thai language to English language by the Dr.Krisan fan club.
หากท่านต้องการอ่านฉบับภาษาไทย กรุณาแวะอ่านที่ http://www.oknation.net/blog/thaithai/2007/08/04/entry-1