May 2023 Update


May has arrived and the weather remains very hot for the children and staff. Thankfully, our kids have access to a swimming pool, built over a decade ago thanks to a kind donor from the US. Our volunteers oversee the little ones in the pool and rarely have to intervene. There have also been outings to large lakes nearby, where the kids can rent a giant raft, and spend a day in the water. They can order BBQ and soda and most importantly, they can hire life-jackets! I don’t know how clean the water is by the end of the long summer holidays but the youngsters don’t complain. The smaller ones had their first ever train journey to Udorn last week and were very excited, with their heads out the window the whole trip. It is great that they are able to get out and about after almost three years of Covid restrictions. They had a blast during the recent Songkran festival too, showering water at anyone who passed by and then trundling into the city in the six wheel trucks, soaked to the bone.

I continue to make slow progress in my recovery from long Covid. It’s hard to tell some days what is a result of the virus and what is just old age. I am lucky to have staff here to take care of me, particularly when I was a lot less mobile than I am now. I am doing better thanks to Ben Ummels, a rehab physio from the Netherlands, who has been coming here with his wife for many years. They have delayed their return home to help me with my recovery and I am very grateful for that. 

The staff here are carrying on with their fine work. Our gardener on the 12 rai is developing her gardens further, as well as being part of the team looking after me. We are building a new chicken coop and renovating the pig sties, as we look to be more self-sufficient in the face of rapidly rising food prices. We are also painting the houses, building new walls and making repairs to some of the older buildings who have seen better days. I know how they feel!

We are still accepting kids from the Thai welfare department with most of the new arrivals seeking refuge from families destroyed by drugs. It is a growing problem in this poor part of the country and it is often the children who suffer the most. We will take them in and give them safety. As much as we hope that their parents come back for them, it is rarely the case.

With Fr. James having departed to work with the hill tribes north of Chiang Mai, a new priest has arrived to work in the two small Catholic villages around Sarnelli House. His name is Fr. Back and his new parishioners took an immediate liking to him. He is a warm and decent young man and will provide Saturday mass here for the kids and staff. 

God bless you all and thank you for your continued support!

Fr. Mike and the staff and children of Sarnelli House

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