So many new Mercy children! Please welcome our brothers and sisters who have joined our Mercy family since the New Year: Wat, Ole, Gof, Noa, Sai, Game, Film Paipha, Paimon, Boom, Cat, Peh, Bai Tong, and Champoo Also new to our family, two babies under six months old – Nong San and Nong Luckee – plus Nong Fai, photos below.
That makes 17 new children in all. Abandoned, abused, orphaned, they are now safe and well looked after as they face brave new challenges at Mercy. A couple of examples: Nong Bai Tong (Miss Banana Leaf) and Nong Champoo (Miss Rose Apple), both age 3 and joining Mercy just weeks apart, are ready for theses challenges. They are learning to play and share for the first time, which involves strong clashes of wills and torrents of tears in the lessons learned, but they are already best friends for life. (Photo Gallery: New Mercy Kids.)
One of our boys, Master Ek, age 15, has been a part of our family for 8 years. For at least one year he was miserable, always spoiling for a fight and always losing in the end. But we knew he was a good kid. His own father never had more than a few pennies, yet when Master Ek found a 1,000 baht note ($33) in a school hallway, he immediately gave it to his teacher. When Master Ek’s father died last year, Fr. Joe asked if we could do anything for him during the ceremonies. So Ek thought a moment and replied, “I want all the Mercy kids to have pizza.” Twenty pizzas were delivered that evening.
Recently Master Ek earned a Bronze Medal in a citywide Thai boxing tournament. Now he’s the pride of his school! And he doesn’t fight outside the ring any more.
With 60 children in our family living with HIV and another 40 children in our HIV/AIDS homecare program, our friends frequently ask us about the antiviral medicine. We could write a long and critical list of complaints to the leading pharmaceutical companies (and in fact, we have) but we are also grateful that the antiviral medications not only keep our children alive; they also allow them to thrive as children and now, too, for the first time, as young adults. Unfortunately, these medications are also poisons that harm our children’s livers, kidneys, and other vital organs. They need daily vitamin supplements in abundance. (I’ve copied the list below.*) We can only hope for gentler and more effective children’s medicine as our children deserve no less.
Kindergarten Graduation Day
Kindergarten graduation ceremonies for our 21 Mercy preschools were held this past week, March 10-11. Moms, grandmoms, aunties, brothers and sisters all shared in the celebration. Always a colorful, riotous affair, we try to make graduation day the greatest moment in a young child’s life.
In recent years we were operating preschools in as many as 33 slum communities at once, but it has never been our attention to “own” any of these schools. Our goal is always to strengthen the surrounding communities so that they can run their own preschools. Thus, we organize each school into elected school boards represented by two teachers, two parents and two community leaders, and let the board members make the decisions that affect their own children. We teach our board members about school funding, government assistance, day-to day-operations, and community outreach. When they are ready, we turn over the keys to the school in a festive community ceremony.
So far eleven communities are successfully operating former Mercy preschools. It may seem like an odd boast, but this figure is a great measure of our success.
Plus it frees up our education teams to search for new slum communities without preschools, and to find the poorest children of all ages who need our help to stay in school.
Today we sponsor 651 children in Bangkok and another 505 Sea Gypsy children in the South. If you or friends are wondering how to help us, education sponsorships are always needed.
Thank you, everybody, for your friendship, support and for everything you do and say on our foundation’s behalf.
Usanee and The Mercy Teams
*Daily vitamin supplements required:
Amino acid (N-acethy), Cystein(NAC), Dehydropiand rosterone sulfate (DHEAS), Vitamin A, Beta carotene, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamine E