May 2019 update


     ….and the kids are buying books, clothes, shoes and paying for the first term tuition. Getting ready for school here is much more complicated than in other countries. First, the kids, boys and girls, have to have proper haircuts. Short hair for boys, and hair cut short to the ear lobes for girls. No tattoos or piercings. Then the school blouse has to have the student’s full name and class year stitched to the right front of each blouse. So, all the house mothers and older girls spend days sewing the names and class numbers on each blouse. One school would have different uniforms. Rosario school has white blouses and red skirts or pants for kindergarten; a smock like dress for grade school, with blue short pants for boys. Junior high kids have slightly different uniforms; blue skirts for girls, and blue short pants for boys. Then they have their sports gear, and their girl scout and boy scout uniforms. The kids are lucky they have sponsors. Since they are regarded as poor, they are fed a free lunch, thanks to the government. The lunches suck, frankly. So, each kid gets twenty baht (65 cents) for snacks, just in case. The real losers are wee ones who do not grow fast, like Nin Nate and Hippo. Older kids grow like weeds, and need new clothes and shoes every year. The small ones are cursed with hand-me-downs. They never see new clothes.

    The college kids are still in class until next month, and they then prepare for the September opening of their school year. All these kids get summer jobs, and can buy necessities for the new school year, unlike the runts in grade school and junior high. Kids in vocational school might well be on a year’s work requirement; jobs lined up by the schools. We have kids working in computer factories and 7-11’s, hotels and restaurants, government offices as gofers and other factory jobs. They then return for their last year of school, and if they are good, trustworthy workers, they are often hired by the places where they had worked as apprentices, and some companies send the kids on for further training, for things such as quality control, or local management. 

    And then there are kids who can’t retain knowledge or are too slow to send on to school. We find work for them around Sarnelli House. They are usually too timid to leave, and the ones who do sally forth to find fame and fortune, for the most part, return hurt and beaten down. Some kids who have severe illnesses don’t go to school until they are strong and cleared of skin problems and won’t be bullied by other students.

    The monsoons are scheduled to start near the end of May, but this year the weather folks are predicting late, meager rains, and they predicate this on the “el nino” effect. So we will see. We have made 350 rice bags full of fertilizer pellets for the rice fields, and hope to get enough rain to use them and plant rice.

    Again, thank you so much and God bless you!

Father Mike

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