The Arokaya Center: Extending help to continue with living
Arokaya is a natural recovery center located at the Wat Kam Pramong Temple in Sawang Sub-District, Panat Nikom District, Sakol Nakorn Province. The meaning of “Arokaya” is derived from the Balinese language with the meaning: “A place without illness”. Arokaya centre is under supervision of the abbot Baponpat Jiratammo, or affectionately known by the locals as “Luangta” (Grandfather Abbot).
Arokaya was established to provide help and treatment to patients suffering from all types of cancer, including patients who are in the final stage and require combined treatment methods. Alternative medicine is applied in combination with Thai, Chinese, and other traditional methods. All therapy is based on the objective of patients, and is provided free of charge.
Arokaya applies 3 methods for treating patients of cancer:
1. Physical therapy
2. Mental therapy
3. Natural and environmental therapy
All of the 3 methods are interrelated and crucial to the patients’ recovery; a good environment leads to an improved mental state and a good mental state ultimately improves the physical body.
Patients are treated with herbs and medical equipment from both traditional Thai and conventional medicine. Teams of volunteer doctors are available to provide weekly examinations and to respond in case of emergencies. Religious ceremonies are organized to cultivate faith and encourage patients to fight the illness. One ceremony, for example, includes boiling herbs according to the fate of each patient. It is a belief that without faith the liquid medicine will show no benefits: “a patient’s faith lies at the heart of all treatment”. Relatives and friends are invited to participate in prayer and meditation on behalf of the patient. All patients reside within the temple grounds in a peaceful environment and listen to music therapy or religious sermons alongside their daily activities. The temple has also provided an area with a pond to release birds or fish to extend the lives of patients.
Arokaya invites the general public to participate in caring for their fellow humans by organizing the “volunteer day” which holds various activities. Interested parties can easily participate as volunteers at any time by offering their services free of charge. Patients without relatives can specifically request for someone to care for them by making a phone call directly to the network’s local service unit. Stickers are also made and distributed with a hot line number for interested parties to inquire about participating as volunteers. The center also coordinates with medical centers to arrange for regular visits of medical units to provide encouragement, knowledge about the illness, and further treatment and assessment. The good deeds of volunteers are acknowledged and encouraged via radio broadcast. Training is also provided for volunteers to enhance their knowledge and skills in caring for patients and volunteer groups are part of a network that receives regular communication directly from the center and coordinates to spread news among its members and others. Additionally, books on the meditative treatment at Arokaya are distributed.
The Arokaya volunteer group comprises of doctors and nurses who conduct weekly visits and examinations, medical officers who conduct blood tests and analysis, nutritionists experienced in natural foods and macrobiotics, volunteers who grow organic herbs for cancer treatment, volunteers who hold group discussion therapy sessions, therapists and assistant therapists, administrative volunteers and researchers who analyze statistics, conduct assessment, and coordinate with patients after completing the treatment, and many other volunteers who help with general work (for example, bulletin boards to spread knowledge among patients, relatives, and other interested parties).
The volunteers are highly important individuals who bring life to the patients and encourage them to fight the illness; they are friends who strive to push the project to achieve a positive outcome.
Arokaya has been in operation for over 3 years and continues to receive large numbers of volunteers. Next year is expected to show further developments in various projects with additional modern medical equipment, improved patients quarters, a more peaceful and serene landscape, and further research in areas of treatment. The center could become a model meditation center in the future. At present, a total of 651 patients have undergone treatment. Most patients are able to fight the cancer and have an 80% chance of survival.