June 2021 Update

Dear Friends of Sarnelli House,
    Like every other country, Thailand is experiencing the third wave of Covid 19, which has brought over 1,000 deaths so far. For a year, we were sailing along with the virus largely under control. But Covid has hit the Bangkok area hard, and other cities are now seeing Covid clusters.

    The spread of Covid has created a lot of problems. Restaurants, tailor shops, bars, and restaurants are closed, and the tourist business is ruined, for now, at least. The Indian variant has come to Thailand, and people are dying in greater numbers than before. Up country, along the Mekong River, I know of no one carrying the virus, but that can change fast. I just hope and pray that it does not reach Sarnelli House, because I doubt if our kids with AIDS could cope with it. So far, less than 2% of the Thai have been vaccinated, and those vaccines were given mostly in the Bangkok area. And the process is slow and riddled with problems. 

    The rainy season (monsoon) has not quite arrived, but we have enough rain to begin planting rice. This year, we plowed our rice paddies twice, to kill weeds. I refuse to allow the staff to spray the weeds, because the weed killer gets into underground drinking water, and surface water such as fish ponds, where we raise ducks and chickens. Then, for the first time, we cast the seeds, and rototiller to cover them. Another method is to plant the seed, then when the stalks get about 8-10 inches high, to replant in the paddies, which have to have about 4-6 inches of water. It is hard work, and if the casting of seed works, we will do that from now on. Then we begin praying that the weather cooperates, and we get all the rain we need before harvest.

    Right now, we have three returning kids in quarantine. At this time, we have 25 of our kids come home when they got laid off because of Covid. They hunted for jobs in vain, and came back to Sarnelli. So, we have the boys working on the rice farm, taking care of our pigs, chickens, ducks, fish and cattle. The girls and some boys work in our vegetable and fruit gardens, help cook and clean, take care of the wee ones, and help the laundry ladies. Thanks to generous donors, we are able to give them a little salary. We hope the country opens up soon before we run out of money.

    I hope you are all well, and have had the opportunity to get the vaccine.  Who would have thought that the virus would last this long, or split up into other variants. Our kids have been admirable, in the sense that they have put up with being grounded for at least 15 months now. The girls order cosmetics and clothes online, and the boys carefully save their money! I try to get enough money scratched together, about once a month, to throw a party for all the houses and the staff. All in all, we are in this together. We are just so lucky to have people who care that much for the children.

    God bless you, and keep you safe and healthy!
Father Mike 


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