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Father Shea and one of his children at Sarnelli House

Reverend Michael Shea, C.Ss.R
Sarnelli House was begun to serve a need. small children and babies who had aids were being rejected by relatives and villagers, and often abandoned like little animals. The thai welfare departments in the northeast of thailand were taking in these children, but had neither budgetary funds nor a program to help them. These children were being fed on an equivalent of 0.75 euro a day (30 Thai Baht). They were not going to school. At first, after the building was finished, young aids ridden mothers were bringing in their babies for us to raise for them. Some babies tested out with aids, some did not. Others were children dumped off by relatives or villagers.

The thai government is now giving us children from their welfare homes; children proven to have the aids virus. Sarnelli House has never been funded by the thai government (even though Sarnelli is the only home for children with AIDS in the northeast of Thailand, which takes up one third of the land mass of the country). Sarnelli House is funded by private donations, individuals or churches of many denominations.

Our help comes from concerned people in Germany, America, Canada and Australia. Some funds are raised in Thailand.

Our big expenses at sarnelli are: food, medicine, education, salaries and utilities. so far. Our total yearly expenses come to about U.S.$60,000. We seem to survive from month to month. Some months we have a little money left over, and there are times, when donations do not cover our expenses.

The Health and Welfare Departments have now seen to it that our children finally get the anti-retroviral medicine, free. But they are also poised to send us more children, all infected. We never refuse a child. So far, no child has suffered from lack of food, medicine and education.

We do not write letters asking for money. We do send out news letters, and some people are now sponsoring some children. Many, however, ask to sponsor a healthy child, since they think it is a waste of money to help a child they believe will die anyway. the greatest gift we can give them is unconditional love, a sense of family, and the belief that their lives have true value and worth.

When they do sicken and sometimes die, it is a real exercise in helplessness and sometimes horror in our inability to alleviate their pain and suffering.

Michael Shea

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