Dear everyone,

Thank you for your so many prayers and emails. As I write this, Bangkok is burning, filled with smoke of burning buildings and burning petrol-doused auto tires. That terrible acrid smoke; one hospital had to evacuate all their patients as the smoke was literally killing them. Even in ICU - coming through the air con.

Several buildings - department stores, banks are scorched and some on fire. The apparent leaders of the protesters (6) surrendered this early afternoon as the army tanks tore down their bamboo-tire barricades. It unleashed the whirlwind. Marauders in small bands on motorcycles carrying beer bottle fire bombs (filled with petrol) torching the city - anywhere they can. Tonight is not going to be pleasant.

Marshall law is in place. Curfew begins at 8:00 p.m.

We here at Mercy Centre worry about our aids patients & 200 children's safety. However the winds have blown away from us, thus we are smoke free. Our older boys are keeping watch on the street level, and the girls keeping night watch from the 3rd floor where they have a clear view, plus our normal night watchmen. You never know. Any danger would be from fire bombs thrown by outsiders on racing motorcycles. To them, any building will do. Anything that will burn. Also, our community leaders from 31 different neighborhoods of Klong Toey, plus those living in the five-story walk-up flats, have organized their own young men both on foot & motorcycle to guard our beloved slum neighborhood during the night. The total slum is on alert. We protect our own.

There will be no violence. No fire. If the curfew lasts, tomorrow night we will cook huge pots of rice gruel for the watchmen throughout the slums.

On caring for children living in the "war" camp for the protesters for the past two months with their relatives... we have put out the word far and near, to any and all, that we here at Mercy will accept all children, moms, elderly folks who need shelter. We will give bus fare to help them get home to the provinces, or what they need here in Bangkok, especially medical. Plus, naturally, anyone else in trouble.

We will refuse no one. Never have. Never will. Because of the terrible economic toll, we expect lots of children and destitute cases, and sick people. Somehow we will find a place for them, get some sort of medical care and always have food on the table.

As I send this off to you, I just received a telephone call about a slum fire, set deliberately. But the neighbors caught the arsonist and put out the fire. I do not know what they did to the arsonist. Some things... it's better not to know.

On a cheerful note, tomorrow is another day and the Lord and Our Blessed Mother will protect us. But please, please do pray for us all.

In the name of all our children and Klong Toey & our staff, & Exec. Director Ms

Usanee ....   fr joe