In November 2005, a Belgian couple came to Sarnelli House. They wanted to volunteer to help the children. November is not the time we usually take volunteers, but they were welcomed and it soon became apparent that they were going to be gems.
Their names were Hans and Natacha, and they were 40 years old. They also had interesting histories.
Hans began helping people at the age of 14, repairing and painting houses for poor people. At the age of 15, he even went to Africa on a school trip to help people with building or repairing houses (A young Jimmy Carter!!). Hans studied to be a kindergarten teacher, but after one year, his mother became ill, and he had to go to work as an engineer in a factory, and then, after experience, finally became a safety inspector in Belgium and Holland for factories and other places of employment.
Natacha was orphaned at an early age, and she studied languages until she was 18. She really wanted to go to art school, but being an orphan she had no money. So, she took employment at a wholesale florist company.
Both husband and wife worked hard, but they never forgot their young dreams to help others. When they read about Sarnelli House, they decided to visit to see if they should volunteer here, or move on to Vietnam. Luckily for us, they decided to stay. At that time, we were just moving babies and other rug rats from Sarnelli House to the House of Hope. They began to help Ms. Bunchan Lasa (nicknamed Peh) with the tots and babies, and never looked back.
When they returned from a home leave in October 2006, they asked to be permanent unpaid volunteers (the only kind upcountry these days!). They are in the final stages of this long, lengthy, frustrating process. They will be joined at the end of the year by Ms. Kate Introna, a nurse and grant writer from Australia, who also will become a permanent volunteer. These three will shoulder much of the burden of running shelters for 130 children, and all the other kids in the OUTREACH program.
The children of Sarnelli House, the tots of the House of Hope, young boys from St. Patrick's and the girls of Our Lady of Refuge Home all call them "Father Hans" and "Mother Natacha". They have learned Thai and use their talents to help everybody. Hans is very gifted with computers, repairing, welding and electrical work. Natacha is familiar with all types of office work, and helps us in translation of English, Dutch and German. Both of them are fluent in 4-5 languages. Most of the time they can be found at the House of Hope, cooking, cleaning, repairing or burping babies!
God the Holy Spirit has been very good in directing this couple to Sarnelli House. May they continue to bask in the love and affection of the children and staff!