Bangkok, Thailand: Father Joe Maier, C.Ss.R., a Co-founder and Director of The Human Development Foundation-Mercy Centre, was named an Ambassador of Child Protection in an award ceremony held at the Thai House of Parliament and presented by Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva on November 22, 2009.
Fr. Joe was nominated for the award by the Child Protection Taskforce of Thailand (a coalition of groups working with street children throughout Thailand) in recognition of his continuous four-decade commitment to the protection and education of the poorest slum children in Thailand.
Father Joe, a Catholic Priest ordained in the Redemptorist Order, first arrived in Thailand in 1967, ministering to the poor Catholic communities in Northeast Thailand and to the Hmong in Laos before settling permanently in Bangkok as the Parish Priest in the "Slaughterhouse" neighborhood in Klong Toey, Bangkok's largest slum community.
In 1973 Father Joe co-founded The Human Development Foundation to protect and educate the poorest children of all faiths. Under his direction, the foundation now oversees the largest network of slum kindergartens in Bangkok; provides shelter to 200 orphan children; represents and defends poor children in police stations and courts; protects street children throughout the city; and advocates for the fulfillment of the 1999 Thai Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The award as Child Protection Ambassador 2009 follows a Lifetime Achievement award presented to Father Joe in 2004 by Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand as the foreign resident who, "over the long-term, has contributed the most to the promotion of status and protection of women and children in Thailand."