September 2019 Update

September, 2019

In the last couple of months, we have been moaning that the monsoon season had not come to northeast Thailand. Up to August 21, the north-northeast section of Thailand was in a drought. No measurable rain, and planted rice died or was withering in the intense hot and arid weather. But since 21 August, we have had heavy rains coming in, albeit nearly three months late. But the storms that put water back in the paddies also caused flooding and cut the main road leading into Don Wai. I live out in the rice paddies alone, and my dirt road leading to the highway is usually flooded and is deteriorating.
 Suddenly we are collecting babies again. A 20 year old woman had a baby girl she was not capable of raising (both father and mother have AIDS; are severely cross eyed and are a tad slow), and relatives brought us the baby after they learned the wee one was being fed sugar water instead of milk. It took us two weeks to stabilize the kid and we hope little Jodi grows up normally. Her eyesight is ok. The government gave us an 18 month old boy whose mother was selling drugs with a gang. The gang hung her husband out to dry, so she ratted out the whole band, who are all jailed. Her husband is also jailed and the mother will be incarcerated in Korat women’s penitentiary.  The police are worried that friends of gang members will seize the child and kill him as a warning to anyone who turns them in. We also have two more unborn children on the way; both from young mothers who have AIDS.
Months ago, we asked for prayers for one of our girls. She had a fungus in her bone marrow from AIDS, and a high viral load. She was alarmingly anemic. She got back on her ARV medicines and took injections for red blood cells. She has recovered and has now gone to town and we rented and furnished a room for her, and are helping her find a job. 
Monday August 12 was Mother’s Day in Thailand. The governor of Nongkhai province visited Sarnelli with a huge retinue following him. He came in on our potholed road (and promised to pave it for us) to feed the children and meet the staff. Father Ole hosted the event, since I had to give a talk at a seminar in Viengkhuk so could not attend. Feeding our kids sometimes reminds me of slopping pigs on the farm when I was young, but before the governor and his retinue came, the herd got a “Miss Manners” course on how to eat slowly and not look like miniature farm back hoe machines!
Since Sarnelli has become a Thai Foundation, thanks to Fr. Ole, we are finding out how damn complicated the procedure is and will be. Thank God for Ole and our lawyer, an ex- Good Shepherd nun who everyone still calls “Sister”. I think they are the only ones who understand what is going on!
Every year for the last 18 or 19 years, we have had a “Ceboride” in Wisconsin to collect money for medicine and hospital expenses for our kids and those in our Outreach Program. Ceboride is a bike ride that started at 120 miles, and as riders got older, shrunk to about 50 miles. It is named for a tiny girl named Cebo, who was very sick and near the brink. Now, Cebo and other kids once quite ill, are well and healthy, thanks to the money raised by the organizers and riders. This year, they collected about $65,000 so far! But I guess this is our last Ceboride. It was the last of our fundraisers in the U.S. We will have to come up with other was to find medicine money.
Everyone enjoy the last days of summer and God bless you!

Father Mike

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