We are going to try a slightly different tack on the site. I think you would appreciate more news about the children in general, and some of the activities of the kids and staff. I have here a bit of disquieting March news.
I think the events of Ash Wednesday epitomized the type of Lent that our tykes are going to experience. On Shrove Tuesday we learned that many of our children have a virulent strain of TB, and we have to separate the "healthy" from the sick and put a two-month quarantine on the children with TB. This meant transporting 16 AIDS children with TB to the "House of Hope". These kids are already begun their TB medicine, and of the 16, ten will have to get daily injections of streptomycin, for 40 days. They will have tender little behinds soon. Also, of our wee ones from the nursery, eight of the 13 tots will have to be quarantined as well. We can't put them at the House of Hope, so one of our housemothers has a home she just built. It is very nice, and she spent her last baht on the house. She doesn't have any money for furnishings, so we are hunting stoves and a refrigerator, fans and a wash machine, plus a myriad of other
supplies needed (especially paper plates, plastic cutlery, Pampers, and also some play ground equipment). I'm giving them my microwave and blender. I found a deal on a TV, and will try to get a DVD recorder. Also, I have a big boom box at my house in Pai Si Tong, that the runts can put on CD's and dance to their favorite music. Thank God that the house mom is letting us use her home.
Whenever we have to quarantine kids, the healthy ones left behind are both lonely and apprehensive. As for those transported to the motel-like home, they are again brusquely uprooted and I saw one of our new kids, 5 year old Miss Paew, standing at the gate of the
House of Hope, with a stricken and fearful look on her face. I was dumping bedding and clothes and games from my pick up and the little huddled group of 16 kids watched us gravely. We are really strained as to woman-power. The ladies are spread too thin. And a few days ago, sad to say, none of us adults seemed to have enough time to cuddle and console these little urchins. Thank God, some of the grannies in Pai Si Tong immediately came over. They, in turn, were startled to be handed facemasks before being allowed to get near the kids. 60 days of separation is a long time for children.
Yesterday, all the staff went in for TB tests. If any of the staff have contacted TB, then their families go into the TB hospital for check-ups. Also, our older girls from the Viengkhuk Girls' Hospice who help at SARNELLI on weekends will have to be checked. Pray God that all the Tests turn up negative.
About three weeks from now, the new girls' dorm will be completed, and the nursery will be ready for the tots.(To be named St. Michael's, after the parish in Wheaton, lllinois that made
the donation). Also, I am building a mess hall, with screened in sides. The fly population is awful. Some of the meals end up looking like some of that footage one sees about kids in Africa, covered with flies.
Say a prayer for us all. The government will supply us the TB medicine, even though I had to pay for the first batch. I had the flu for a week and was beginning to feel sorry for myself, but
realized that these kids teach me more about resignation, suffering and endurance than I could ever learn myself.
Father Mike Shea