After 6 weeks in the U.S., I departed the green fields of Wisconsin on August 15 and spent the next two days on and off "Silver Coffins" until I reached Sarnelli House. Just getting away from bad air and not having to go to the toilet with strangers was a blessing! I reached Sarnelli House on Friday afternoon, August 17. I had the 8:30 AM children's Mass the next day. I got a big round of applause from the kids and staff when I walked in. The high point of the Mass came when the "Baby Buffalo" (Kwai Noi) pointed at me and hollered "Who IS he?"
Our paralyzed little 5-year-old Josie (cerebral palsy) is in the hospital (it has been over a year since she was hospitalized, and the nurses are all visiting and fussing over her). She will be there for a long period of time with a lung infection. Bee, who has AIDS and is from Laos, had her nostril operated on, and right now she looks hideous. But she is happy to see me, and I am happy to see her. Last to be operated on will be her mouth She has bad scars from shingles. Lyn, who was at the brink of death one year ago, looks better and her skin is clearing up. Tiny 3-month old Chatchai was given ARV medicines upon his birth. The poor little lad soon became anemic and was cold all the time. He only stopped fussing and shivering when held. He is in the Nongkhai provincial hospital getting a slow blood transfusion. He will not be given any more ARV medicines.
Our latest little girl is 4 month old Miss Blai. Her mother had liver cancer and Blai was born at six months, barely a month before her mother died. Her head is misshapen, and she is a really ugly little thing. Nin Nate was also a homely little creature, but now she is cute and vivacious. We hope Miss Blai, who looks like a little hippo, doesn't live up to this unfortunate nickname.
It was great to see everybody, and already the construction workers roared in, to inquire if I was hiring. It has rained a lot and the ground is too soft to do anything right now. But there are some jobs they can do, until I figure out when the House of Hope comes down. This is our nursery, and it was poorly constructed and is way too small. The wheelchair ramp at the volunteer house is done, but I have not tried pushing anyone up there on a wheelchair. Right now, we are remodeling a room for wheelchair use; including a flush toilet and bigger doors, etc. But, it is great to be home. I really enjoyed my stay in the U.S., but I now need to catch up on 6 weeks of work waiting for me here. Of our 137 children, nearly 60 are confirmed to have AIDS, and we have 9 other toddlers and babies too young to test. We are able to care for them, thanks to people like you ! God bless you all! We pray for you daily!
Father Mike Shea CSsR