October 2020 Update

   We had a real tragedy a little over two weeks ago. On Monday evening, (September 14) about 7:30 pm, a terrible incident happened near Sarnelli House. A man from the village hung himself on the basketball court, using rope from the volleyball net. He was a fallen away Catholic, who had had a miserable life. Word had it that he was regularly beaten by his father. He went to Catholic school in Viengkhuk, then got a job overseas and returned to marry. He got hooked on smoking weed, and lost his job, plus his wife and child left him. He then became a Buddhist monk. He finally came home, but his parents would not let him stay in the house. He wandered around the village, but was not wanted or accepted. I guess he saw no reason to continue life. Shortly after he hung himself, 4 of our little guys snuck out of Sarnelli House, and found the body hanging from the basketball backboard. They ran screaming to tell the house mothers, who rushed to get one of the farm workers, who then phoned for an ambulance and the police. There is one house for boys, and 2 houses for girls in that area. Not one kid dared go to the bathroom that night. They whizzed right in their beds, and the next morning the housemothers made them launder their bedclothes and only then would they feed them breakfast and give them snack money for school. We buried the poor guy Wednesday afternoon. Needless to say, there are no runts sneaking out at night any more.

    Older girls are leaving for 6 months of work training in stores and factories. Some get paid; usually just a pittance. Some don’t. But we support them all. Some get into trouble, usually with a boy. One boy got hooked on speed pills. We give them pep talks and try to monitor them. But every vocational school sends kids out for 6 months to a year, working at places the school chooses, not the student. But for the most part, the kids do well and enjoy the experience.

    Schools have begun soccer tournaments once more. Masks are mandatory in stores, banks, and hospitals, etc. Many kids wear masks everywhere. One never is quite sure who he is talking to. They all look like the Taliban.

    The saga of our nurse, Kate, continues. She was due into Thailand on a repatriation flight from Sydney. She had a seat on the plane, only to be told she didn’t have the type of visa needed for people for that flight. So, her work permit and visa both ran out. She will have to start all over again, if she ever gets back here. Her husband, Brian, sorely misses his wife, and his younger brother Kevin, who has brain cancer, has been flown from Spain back to Ireland to spend his last days at home. Brian will return home to be with him on October 10 or thereabouts. This leaves 82 year old Father Mike, he of diminishing physical and mental ability, together with Brother Keng, riding herd. I don’t expect anyone back until January, at the earliest. When all this dawns on the staff, we will see who we can really depend on. Pray for us all, and stay safe and healthy! We pray for you daily.

Father Mike 

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