Greetings for Christmas. Our five- and six-year-old kids invented this glorious dance step all on their own. It’s a kind of a jump-up-and-down thing, which they do until they get tired and then collapse on the floor in laughter and giggles. And then they catch their collective breath, and do it again. They said if baby Jesus lived here at Mercy Centre with them, they’d teach him, too.
And things are not bad at all. The worst problem in the house last night was that one of our boys lost his first baby tooth. It fell out when he was asleep. When he awoke, he couldn’t find it, and he was afraid his Auntie (his only living relative, who is coming to visit him today) would scold him for the loss, you know, for not being responsible. (She won’t.)
For a good deed before Christmas, our little ones sat down beside our dog, who is really old and doesn’t move very fast and doesn’t even bark unless a stray cat gets really close. Anyway, all the kids pulled out the old dog’s fleas, or tried to, so he wouldn’t have to scratch so much. Also they pooled their money and bought him a can of dog food at the store, but he didn’t like it. He likes plain cooked rice better. They also, for a good deed, helped this old man collect some paper and tin cans and a few bottles to sell at the recycling center down the street.
It’s Christmas time and the kids say that baby Jesus and his mommy Mary and Joseph can stay here with us at Mercy Centre if they want to. And I’m sure they can stay at your house, too.
To paraphrase the song, our Klong Toey slum is a “savage place, drenched in Mercy.” Our family - all 173 kids - is safe and happy here. May the Holy Family keep you and your family holy. May your angels protect you in the coming year. And, finally, that famous blessing: May you walk in the shadow of the Rainbow.
Thank you for your support this past year.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Fr. Joe and Our Mercy Family
Drawings by Fluke, a Mercy boy, age twelve.
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Mercy as the leading HIV/AIDS community organization in the poorest Bangkok communities, we are still battling issues of awareness and prevention. The general populations in the poorest communities are still unaware of their rights to receive access to health care relating to AIDS. These rights include access to health checkups, blood tests, consultations, medicine, and follow-up care. Their ignorance of their rights is due mainly to the stigmatization of people living with AIDS within Thai culture and society.
This project will battle community ignorance and encourage people to learn about their HIV status. In concert with government health care centres, we will promote the VCCT program (Voluntary Counseling, Confidential Testing) – a program that will encourage every member of our communities, especially young women and teenagers, to be tested for HIV.
Beneath the luxury condominiums in Bangkok, often right beside the glitzy shopping malls, you will sometimes come across a guarded, gated camp of corrugated tin shacks. These camps are for the migrant workers, mostly from Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, who come to Thailand to build high rise towers for a minimum daily wage. We operate schools on these sites for the children living in the camps. These shacks and our schools are the children’s entire universe.
We try to give them a lifetime love of learning in a safe place where they can learn to read and write and make friends and play.