Thursday, 31 July 2008 07:45

click here to purchase this film

by Jeanne Hallacy
Jamlong Saiyot
color, 50 min, 2002

Read more: "Mercy" a documentary about Mercy Centre AIDS orphans (2006)

Thursday, 31 July 2008 07:36
BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: We repeat a story today about a remarkable man working in the slums of Bangkok, Thailand. He is a Catholic priest known as Father Joe, who, over 30 years, has set up schools that have educated thousands of poor Thai children. In the process, Father Joe Maier has skirmished with all kinds of people from drug dealers to church hierarchy. He is tough, irreverent and totally committed, as Phil Jones reports.

PHIL JONES: Children singing the national anthem of Thailand -- it's how their school day begins. After the anthem, it's time for their prayers, led by the teachers.

TEACHERS AND STUDENTS: Bow once to the Buddha. The Buddha is great....

Read more: Public Service Broadcasting, WNET New York - Religion and Ethics Weekly (2006)

Thursday, 31 July 2008 07:34
In the mid and late 1980s, Thailand was one of the countries hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By 1991, the country's prime minister announced that AIDS prevention and control were a national priority.

Thailand soon became one of the world's first success stories in the battle against the virus, reducing the number of transmissions from 140,000 in 1991 to 23,000 in 2003. Nonetheless, one in every 100 Thais is infected, and AIDS is still the country's leading cause of death.

The Mercy Centre is the first and largest free AIDS hospice in the Thai capital, Bangkok. It is located in the middle of the city's biggest slum, Klong Toey.

The Mercy Centre was established in 1993 by a Catholic priest, Father Joe. Initially, the project was received with disdain and fear by the slum-dwellers, says Usanee Janngeon, one of the centre's health managers.

"When we first began our patients weren't allowed to go outside. But now, they can walk out in the community, buy food and do whatever they want as long as they don't make trouble. The community accepts them. I'm not saying there's no discrimination, far from that. But at least the slum-dwellers have shown acceptance of HIV/AIDS patients."