December 5 of every year has special significance for the Thai
people. It is the birthday of their much loved and revered King. Since the
King is the Father of all the Thai, it is fitting that it be Thai Father's
Day. (Mother's Day is celebrated on the Queen's Birthday on August 12). On
these birthdays, the Thai make merit for the Royals, and also each village
has development or clean up projects they do on that day. The King is
renowned for His royal projects all over Thailand, geared to help the rural
This year, Sarnelli House hit the jackpot. First, a contingent
of over 20 teachers from Ruam Rudee International School in Minburi (an
international school owned and run by Redemptorists) bussed up with a load
of goodies to play with and teach the kids. Fr. Leo Travis CSsR, could not
make it because Father Leo was hospitalized with a possible case of
shingles. The teachers launched their program after breakfast on December 5,
and spent the whole day teaching kids handicraft, hygiene and planting
gardens. They played games and had a Christmas party for them. On the
morning of December 6, they joined the children at their Mass and gave a
generous donation afterward, which we will use for the children's Christmas
party. The bus departed afterwards, and we hope to see them visit us again!
The second group that gave up their holidays to take care of the
children was doctors and nurses from Srinakarin hospital in Khon Kaen.
Accompanying them were three teams of dentists, most of them from Bangkok,
with mobile dental equipment to extract teeth, drill and fill cavities and
clean teeth. It took them two full days, and neither the priest, nor the
staff, not to mention the children, ever saw a team work so hard and
cheerfully. Some of the assistants made balloons into animals, etc., to keep
the littler more apprehensive group of rodents occupied! The dentists and
their assistants also taught the kids dental hygiene. They serviced nearly
130 children, plus AIDS infected adults who work for us. The adults would
never be allowed in a dentist's office if it was known they had AIDS.
Mr. Prasert Jiragunsombat and friends donated all the gloves,
masks, etc., that the teams needed. Doctor Bunjira Anugun led the team, with
Drs JaithipSongwasin, Somphit Thammarangrong and Patemapon Pungchanchaigun,
and their dedicated staff were outstanding. Dr. Somphit from Srinakarin has
promised to come once a month to take care of any of the children's dental
needs. We are truly blessed to have such sacrificing and generous people
volunteering to help the kids. The children and staff are very grateful for
their care and concern.
When I first began working with children of AIDS-infected parents, back in 1999, I bought a house just off church property in Viengkhuk. There I housed our first group of kids; 7 girls and a boy.
MISSIO/GERMANY gave me a grant to pay for the house, and money for one year of support for the children and salaries. German Redemptorists from the Munich province sent money to drill a well and put up a water tower. Later that year, Dr. Margot Weyer and a friend brought German Marks from Eltern fur Kinder to help with our by then growing herd of runts. It was an
incredibly generous donation, made more so by the fact that I thought a
German mark was equal to a French franc!
I decided to mention some of our volunteers in articles for the web site. The first group is made up of three young, unmarried people from Ev. Apostelkirchengemeinde in Oberhausen, Germany.
ANDRE. Andre has been here five times now, and is 33 years old. He was in the University when he first came, but now is a church social worker for the "Missionary Youth Ministry". Andre trains and motivates young volunteers from the ages of 17-26. He has been doing this work for four years now, and educates and supervises over 400 volunteers for 100 churches in Germany. He brings his expertise to motivate the workers in Sarnelli House.
PETRA. Petra is 35 years old, and has volunteered here 6 times, helping with our kids and working with our staff. Hers is a special work in Germany. Petra is a government official who counsels and advises 120 teenagers who quit school. She and her 20 staff work with these youth to motivate them into studying and taking exams. She offers them their last chance to get a degree. Petra finds jobs for these unemployed youth of German, Turk, and eastern European backgrounds. They also try to intervene to solve family problems. Petra admits this is very difficult work but at times very rewarding and fulfilling, but also quite exhausting. Petra also works at her church every Sunday. She is a presbyter in her church and one of the leaders in her community.
URTE. Urte is 21 years old, and this is her third trip to Sarnelli House. Urte is studying to be a social worker at the University level, and works part time in the government Youth Office. Every Friday she supervises 100 girls of various faiths and backgrounds; African, Muslim and Eastern European, plus poor German youth. From 2:00-6:00 PM every day, they feed and play with these children and are there to advise and help them. Every Sunday at church, with help from Petra and other friends, she has services for the children, and 3 days a week, she helps kids with their home work in school. Several times a year, their church organizes a camping trip for 150-200 children, where they learn Bible stories, play, dance, swim and go to the zoo. These trips are for children of all religions and background.
The admirable part of this is that these three, plus their friends, have broken down barriers of distrust, fear, prejudice and bias, and join all these kids together, despite their cultural and religious backgrounds, into one flock. They teach Christianity, real Christianity; not dogmatic hair splitting, by their love, compassion, interest and dedication. God bless them!
Nid and Udo came once again, the car loaded with lots and lots of stuff.
On June 14th, 2006 Nid and Udo came from Chiang Mai bringing lots of food, detergents, socks, and mountains of toys for the children.
It's a pity they didn't come while the children were at home, so they could see the eyes and happy faces of our kids.
Like before, Udo motivated the guests at his bars to contribute and he collected an amount of 37,000 Baht in donations, which was counted by the staff eagerly. Furthermore, they handed over a donation of 500 English Pounds (abt. 35,000 Baht) from Mr. Paul Wilde from Manchester (U.K.).
When Nid and Udo return next year, we all hope they can hand the presents directly to the children! Thanks to both of them from all of us.