Our annual vacation to Pattaya was a success, despite rain every day, and the truck motor insulation catching fire. We had taken the benches from the back of our 6 wheel truck ( we use it to haul runts to school) and put down mattresses, pillows and blankets. Volunteers rode with the kids, and when black smoke suddenly filled the cab of the truck, everyone panicked. But no damage was done, thank God. We had 158 kids and their handlers down there, and as usual, the Redemptorists in Pattaya were great hosts!
The new school year opens on May 14. The nuns kicked up the price of everything. I think we number 128 kids now. We also bankroll kids from our Outreach program. Thank God kids up here love school, and make big sacrifices to attend.
The Easter Bunny came a tad late this year. Two weeks ago, someone asked me for milk for a newborn baby. I gave the person milk, and then forgot about it. Then, last Saturday, two workers visited their house, and found the baby girl, her poor aunt with Down's syndrome, and maternal grandparents. The house looked awfully poor. The mother had three men within a period of a couple weeks, and no one knows who the father is. The mother, who is reportedly a few bricks short of a load, took off with boyfriend number three. The poor aunt had no money, and was feeding the baby sweetened milk or sugar water. At their request, we brought the tiny thing home. It never cried or fussed. Peh, head honcho at the House of Hope, told me that babies don't cry if they are not being held and loved. I think that aunt loved the baby, but was just too poor to raise it. The baby is filling out a little, and goes by the nickname "Nin Nate" ("Pretty Eyes"). The grannies feed her carefully, since they don't want her to get sick. They give her small portions but at short intervals until her digestive system can handle nourishment. It will be about 5-6 months before they can do a blood test on Nin Nate. She now has enough strength to howl, bawl and fuss with the others. We tell the other runts that the Easter Bunny delivered her to us. I hope her looks improve some. She is a homely little creature. She looks like George Foreman in drag.
Our newest little guy with AIDS, Man U ("Manchester United") wound up in the hospital with a lung infection. He will go to Khon Kaen U hospital for a TB test. His dad is still here. He has AIDS and is going blind fast. So, he will have an eye operation on May 22. They will put in a lens to see if that helps. He is in our adult bungalow right now. We have hired 5 women who have AIDS to help. Without a job, they would be destitute, and we can then monitor their medicine.
The Baby Buffalo, Dottie, has put on weight, and everyone loves her and carries her around. I told Gung that she will never learn how to walk. She is a lovable little thing, and has a beautiful smile. A far cry from the terrified little 16 month old girl who first came to us.
We bought dirt from the banks of the Mekong River, and put that around the new building for teenage girls with AIDS. It looks a lot nicer graded and landscaped. A Thai Catholic who runs a paint factory donated 94 casks of primer and paint. The upstairs is all wired and painted. Now, we need the doors and windows. There is still a lot of work to do before the blessing on June 9. We are calling it "Nazareth House", as in the gospels when Jesus went home to Nazareth to grow in grace, wisdom and age with his folks. We hope this will be the case with these motherless young girls. They are morphing from lovely, sweet little girls into bored, surly, quarrelsome creatures riding around on their brooms!
We hope all is well with you and yours. We thank you for helping us give these kids happy homes and the opportunity for a normal life and especially to know that people still love and care for them. God bless you.