March 2018 update

Greetings from Don Wai village,

I am writing this month’s update as Fr. Mike has been a bit unwell in recent weeks. On March 3rd, Fr Mike exhibited minor stroke symptoms. His cousin, Michael O’Connor, Michael's wife Janet and daughter Elizabeth were with Fr. Mike and noticed a slight slurring and weakness on his right hand side. Our nurse, Kate Introna, decided that a trip to AEK Udon International Hospital in Udon Thani was necessary. Fr. Mike was admitted and stayed in hospital for a week. He is now home convalescing and has made noticeable improvements since his return. Fortunately for Fr. Mike, Ben Ummels from the Netherlands, a long time friend to Sarnelli House through his organisation Stichting Vrienden Van Sarnelli, arrived the very same day he was admitted to the hospital. Ben is an experienced assistant physiotherapist, specialising in rehab, and he now has his new patient on a rehabilitation program, supported by his team in Maastricht UMC hospital. A week on from his return home, Fr. Mike is working hard on his recovery, walking every day, using an exercise bike and the swimming pool and is already in much better shape. We ask you to pray for Fr. Mike and his recovery.

Life carries on for the children, although they are eager to see their Father well again and are all keen to pay him a visit. The school holidays are here and the children are full of energy and relieved to be finished with their exams. Volunteers have started to arrive and they will help to keep the kids occupied, with swimming, football and arts and crafts. There will be English classes, a badminton tournament and trips to Nong Khai. The temperature is rising and the children’s houses are very quiet during the hours around midday, as everyone stays out of the sun or takes a nap. But early morning and late afternoon, the playgrounds, basketball courts and soccer pitches are abuzz with activity, noise and laughter.

19 children graduated from junior and senior high schools and vocational schools and colleges this month and we are very proud of their achievements. Bro. Keng has helped them all decide the next step of their education journey and this will mean some older teenagers leaving Sarnelli House to study away for a few years. An article about the graduations has been posted below, featuring some pictures of the children at their ceremonies. 

Work on the new house for the Viengkhuk girls continues, even on the hotter days. The construction team is working well and remains on schedule. Fr. Mike and the Sarnelli House staff are very humbled by the support received for this urgent and unexpected need but a lot more needs to be done before the girls can move in. A deeper well needs to be dug, a water tower erected and a wall constructed around the premises.

None of this work — the new building, the education program etc., — would be possible without the support of our friends, sponsors, donors and foundations from around the world and we remain eternally grateful for your kindness and love. Hopefully, it will be Fr. Mike writing next month’s update. In the meantime, you all remain in the thoughts and prayers of our children and staff.


Brian O’Riordan

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