April 2013 Update


School is out for two months. The older kids are working to make money for clothes, etc; the younger children who have willing relatives went home for a couple weeks. visiting for the first time since they joined us. Some of these relatives were hunted down by our staff, since we did not know the origins of many of these kids, and there are still some who have no idea of their folks or their home towns. Of all our kids, the pitiful ones are those who have relatives who do not want them to even visit them. Other girls had been abused or raped as small children, and so cannot go home. Little guys and gals who, seeing their friends pack up and be met by relatives, also pack and sit hopefully in front of Sarnelli, waiting in vain for someone to swoop in and take them someplace. One lad, Tien, who is admittedly a few bricks short of a load, re-packs a backpack every evening, and in the morning follows around staff and priests, forlornly asking “when are my relatives coming?” He does have relatives, but they want nothing to do with him. Tien has AIDS.

Father Ole and Brother Keng are working to prepare the kids for school changes and summer camps. We want to make sure the kids who have no relatives get to go to a resort on the Ubolrat Dam for holidays.

We have begun digging the foundations for the new bunkhouse/kitchen for the boys who are slow and have AIDS. It is like digging concrete. No rain and temperatures well over 100 degrees F this early, will make for another weird weather year. We dug the retaining pond to be hopefully filled by rain during the monsoons, and will be a back up source of water in case we wind up with a shortened monsoon season, like last year. Families west of us in the Nong Saeng area (where our St. Eileen parish is located) were all out hunting for work, since their rice crop utterly failed from lack of rain. Last month, I gave them money to drill wells and do vegetable plots, since the soil there is great for vegetable gardens. The money is from a Marist Fathers of Australia project of 15 years ago, who raised matching funds with the Australian government (AUSAID). The mountain people will pay back the loans with zero interest next year.                                                                

On March 17, we had a St. Patrick’s Day party. Being the only person of Irish descent in this whole area, I had to pay for the party, which consisted of pork shoulder, rice, gravy, veggies, fruit, pop and ice cream. The urchins do not know St. Patrick but do know a good meal when they see one. It was like slopping hogs. As for me, the true Irish fellow with a bottle of Jameson that Kate, our Aussie nurse, purchased for me when she was on a visa run in Laos, I sat waiting for the sun to pass over the yardarm, before popping the bottle and toasting life, the runts, and the people who help keep them fed and watered.

Again, thank you so very much for your generosity and concern, and we pray for you and your wants and petitions every evening. God bless you!

Father Mike

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