April 2009


School is out, and the natives are restless! Some of our kids are lucky, and relatives take them home for a while. Others, the majority, have no one. These little tykes can only look on with envy as those more fortunate get to spend time with relatives, albeit brief. So, we have games and travels. We are fortunate to have volunteers visiting from various countries to help teach English and play with them and take them to town for ice cream and an occasional movie. We really appreciate the kindness and love these people give the kids.

One of the projects I started after New Year was an outreach program in an area downriver. I had been pastor down there in the no-road, no-electricity jungle days. I was young then, and everything was an adventure. It was the period of 1967-75. Despite being on the river, and having food gathered and eaten from the jungle, people were desperately poor and disease was rife. We had no doctors or nurses, and the nearest hospital was two days travel by boat, or crossing into Laos for a bus! Girls whom I had sent to school in the cities are now back there in their 50’s and 60’s; government workers, nurses and teachers. They phoned to tell me that they wanted to repay by working as volunteers for AIDS-infected people, especially kids. I can’t believe their compassion and sacrifice, albeit on weekends when they are free.

I had kind of backed off a bit, since the Outreach Program was broke, but these people came up with a van full of young women and 4 girls. The women were all infected with the AIDS virus, and desperately poor. Three of the girls were orphans (folks died from AIDS) and one girl was an orphan infected with AIDS. They were like the Three Musketeers, shunned by former friends and classmates, and insulted by teachers. People in these areas are quite ignorant and lack compassion. They figure that all these girls are infectious. These girls are going to move here in two weeks, and start life anew. They will go to school where no one knows their history. They are unbelievably sweet, but very responsible. Like the three Musketeers and D’Artagan (sp?), they are inseparable. We can do this, and relieve the utter poverty of these outcast women who accompanied them, thanks to a generous and concerned family who donated very generously to the Outreach Program.

One of our little girls with AIDS, Miss Bee, whose face is scarred by attempts at reconstruction surgery, asked me the other day if I believe in angels. I told her that Bee is a baby angel, and has hope thanks to other angels who insure she has a quality life. Like the angels who guided the stunned disciples at Easter, our donors are saving angels in the life of these kids. Times are hard for us here, and we have had to scale back plans and terminate some activities. Our yearly trip to Pattaya was terminated due to lack of funds, but a donor stepped in to make sure the kids have an opportunity to go someplace they want to go. BUPA Insurance Company also gave a generous, gracious donation for transportation of these kids. Some will go camping; some will go to Ubolrachatani to a reservoir; others will go to the Phu Tawk mountain waterfalls; and all will get to the mall at least once before school starts. Whether teenagers or tots, they are satisfied with little things and don’t ask for much. They never had anything, so they don’t expect anything. They are desperate for affection, love and security. Thanks to our friends, we can at least assure them of that. As my buddy Fr. Joe Maier of Mercy Center Bangkok is wont to say “The beat goes on!”

May the Lord and His Sorrowful Mother bless you at Easter and we pray every day for you and yours.

Fr. Mike, staff and ALL the children

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