Outreach construction projects

In 2017 the Outreach program, which runs the milk project, the school scholarship project and the food delivery project, also repaired and constructed dwellings for underprivileged people. One such repair job was for a grandmother and her 13 year old granddaughter who were living in a half completed house. They had no front wall or door, instead they pulled a rusted piece of galvanised iron every night into the space where their front wall would have been. There was no money coming into the household as the parents of the 13 year old girl had left her with her grandmother when she was little and hadn’t sent any money since then. Grandma was working seasonal jobs such as rice planting and harvesting and selling homemade sweets on the street. The Outreach Program, using one of the local builders who helps with building at Sarnelli House, bought the materials – thanks to a generous Irish donor, and built the front wall complete with strong wooden door and window. Now the two ladies feel much more secure and the young lady has been enrolled in the Outreach School Scholarship program and is studying hard. 

A middle aged woman came to ask for help from the Outreach Program last year. She was the sole carer for two mentally damaged young men and needed any help she could find. These two men  - one her nephew 19 years old, the other her son -  had been involved in separate motorbike accidents and had suffered brain damage, her nephew Jak more so than her son. But neither could work. They each have a disability card that enables them to receive 500 baht (about $16) a month from the government. The lady worked in a factory stuffing mattresses and earned 80 -90 baht (about $3) a day. They did not own the land but had made a makeshift dwelling by a big lake near Vienghuk. The villagers had allowed her to live there but that was the extent of their involvement. They slept on the hard earth, their roof leaked in the rainy season, they had no running water or bathroom and were trudging down through the reeds to the water’s edge to perform their ablutions. The Outreach Program built a septic squat toilet, a rainworthy roof and low bamboo tables where bedding was laid for them to sleep. It doesn’t look much but we could not use concrete as it is not their land and also, we are limited by what funds we have available. Jak and the family were also put on our food program and we are in the process of trying to get the town water connected and to find some work or care appropriate to the two young men. 

The final construction was for a toilet behind the house of a woman with polio who was wheelchair bound, her legs contracted up to her chest. When we visited her home, her wheelchair was broken so she was being carried everywhere by her husband. He had to carry her to her sister’s house down the dirt laneway to go to the toilet. The family said they could build the type of toilet they needed if we could buy the materials for them. We did this and there is now a toilet near their house for the lady to use and a new wheelchair is on order. 

A budget of 10,000 baht (US$300) for each repair/construction is set aside at the beginning of the year and at present, we can only do about three a year. The repairs and construction are very basic and we often use recycled materials where possible. Sarnelli House is pleased to help where we can and even a small project can make a huge difference to these desperate families. We would love to do more but we simply don’t have enough money to help everyone. However, we will continue to do what we can for those in need, in keeping with the ethos of Fr. Shea's 50 years of service in Thailand.


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