February 2011

 Happy Ground Hog’s Day!

          45 years ago, on February 2, I landed in Bangkok’s Don Muang airport with a black serge suit and a heavy black over coat. Don Muang was a small airport then; just two stories, and on the observation deck were waiting, in their white habits, Fathers Eddie O’Connor and Larry Patin, outlined by the setting sun. Fr. Rog Godbout was driving the van. Those guys are gone now, and I am counting on them to be greeting me again someday.

                The holidays are over and the end of the school term is not far off. Kids will be graduating and moving on to different schools, and in the meantime, we will have 160 + runts to entertain during the two month holiday. I dread it.

                The pace of HIV/AIDS infected children is picking up again. We have a possibility of 4 new children moving in. Three are boys and have some mental problems. Many kids do, but it is OK unless they are violent. We always hope and pray that their entry into a communal life like Sarnelli House will be easy for them. Not all react favorably to kindness and discipline. We never want to call a child an animal, but there are some who come and hunt for food in the garbage and who would go to the toilet anywhere, even while eating. It takes a special housemom to overcome these habits and instill in the kids some couth!

                We lost a baby boy in the last week of January. Maew was a girl who was shacked up with a vicious druggie who took his own dope and sold the rest. She was pregnant by him but beaten severely, several times. Maew is not the brightest bulb in the box. She gave birth to a baby boy who lived one day. She was terrified I would send her back to the Bangkok slums. I will let her stay and work at Nazareth House. I just wonder if she will be able to cope with that coven of vixens there. Maew had a C-section, so we will let her rest and recuperate for three months. We had the funeral and buried her baby in our cemetery.

                Our Outreach program tries to stay focused on AIDS sufferers and their families. We visit families and monitor their medicines. Our nurse Kate has the program humming along and it is well organized. They take food, milk, rice and blankets, etc., to the families in a wide ranging area. But sometimes they meet families who, although they have no one with AIDS in their hovel, live lives of heart rending poverty. No food, emaciated babies and absolutely filthy conditions kind of repulse our folks, who keep thinking they have seen the worst. We now drag the government officials who are supposed to be doing something for people like this and shove their noses right into the degradation in which these poor people live.

                It is also the case with education. We grudgingly help kids who desperately want an education and get good grades, but have absolutely no one to help them. Some of these kids go to school without lunch money or book money, and steal whatever time they can studying quickly or sketching from a friend’s book. They can only look longingly at “Notebooks” their friends have and their ease of travel and money for food. Again, most think we should help only our AIDS infected kids, but when a desperate kid shows up who has never begged for anything but just wants a chance to get out of the grinding poverty through a decent education, I cannot turn them away. Thank God for generous and understanding donors.

              This is the year of the Rabbit, so Happy Chinese New Year! Remember, we pray for you all, every evening! If anyone has any intentions they would like the Horde from Hell to address, send them along and they will pray for you!

Fr. Mike

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