A home to call his own

As our children grow older, we try to prepare them as best we can for the outside world. Ideally, all Sarnelli House kids will one day be able to step away from our care and build a life of their own. As a result, a lot of time and effort is going into the education program, with Brother Keng and Brian helping the children of all ages with their progress. We focus on vocational training as well. Our children learn farming, sewing, gardening, baking, maintenance and weaving. We have even started a small beauty salon for some of the kids to learn the basics and find out if they are interested in such a trade.

Not all of our children excel academically. Some struggle from day one. A group of our children have learning difficulties and some of the children born with HIV face developmental challenges. Hence the vocational training, and we are hoping that these skills will help some children to make their way in Thai society, supporting themselves and gaining independence. 

There remains a handful of young adults, however, who will most likely not leave us. They would be easily exploited outside the walls of Sarnelli House and a few have already returned to us, having been abused and mistreated when they made a go at leaving and finding their own way. Instead, these young men and women will stay and become part of our team, working as cooks and cleaners, handymen and gardeners. They will all be paid and well looked after. A further initiative developed a year or so ago when a neighbor was keen to see a small parcel of land. Sarnelli House bought the land and this cohort of workers are saving their salaries to build little houses for themselves on it.

T came to live with us at Sarnelli House when he was almost three years old. He struggled badly at school but was always a happy and active boy. He finished school late and began to work on the farm. He has since moved to help at Sarnelli House for boys, but T is happy to go anywhere to contribute. He is a keen and willing worker. He developed a great friendship with Fr. Ole and even asked if he could take Ole’s surname as his own! And Ms. Kung has been amazing at keeping T focused on his work, praising him and giving him confidence. T is the first of this group of young adults to complete his new house. It is a simple dwelling with a main room, as well as an outdoor kitchen and bathroom. He will continue to eat his meal with the boys and staff at Sarnelli House (about 50 metres from his new abode) but he has a place to call his own, after all theses years. T was thrilled that Fr. Ole was able to bless his house during his recent visit over Christmas. It was the staff’s idea to buy this patch of land for this group. We are very lucky to have the senior staff we do, always looking out for what is best for the children. T is a fine young man who has done very well over the past few years. Fr. Mike and his team have allowed T to have this chance to have his own bit of independence and dignity.

In some social media postings, we withhold the children’s full names to protect their privacy.

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