Wednesday, 02 May 2012 10:24

We wish to share with you a feature article about Fr. Joe and Mercy Centre recently published in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post Magazine.  You can view the article here. Please be a little patient – it may take a minute to download.

http://mercycentre.org/images/documents/sundaybusinesspost.pdf

Thank you all, as always, for your friendship and support.

Usanee and the Mercy Teams

Friday, 27 April 2012 07:15

Rama 9 community fire

A major fire occurred earlier this week in the Rama 9 slum community. One community member died; another is still missing; and forty-eight homes were destroyed.  Mercy Social Workers are assisting the community – cooking food, bringing bedding, securing life’s daily necessities, and ensuring that the children are safe and healthy. We are coordinating with community leaders as well as housing and government authorities to rebuild every home lost to the fire.

In addition, earlier this week there was a second slum fire - this one in the Bon Kai slum community. Twenty homes were destroyed. We are surveying the damage, speaking with community leaders, and will update you with specific needs and requests for assistance regarding both fires next week.

Photo above: K. Prapai, a Mercy social worker, surveys the devastation in the Rama 9 slum community. Below, a food vendor's cart - and livelihood - are destroyed by the fire.

In the past 40 years, the Human Development Foundation has built over 10,000 homes following devastating slum fires.

vendor's cart - rama9 fire

Friday, 27 April 2012 04:57

Police Promotion Ceremony

In receiving his promotion to Second Lieutenant within the Port Authority Precinct of the Royal Thai Police, Khun Aumnaj Boonyamatee asked Fr. Joe to pin his new insignia to his police uniform. Of the many formal and informal ceremonial duties that Fr. Joe performs, he says that this one gave him great honor because Khun Aumnaj is a true slum hero: Second Lietenant Aumnaj works with our Mercy legal aid teams to protect the poorest and most vulnerable Klong Toey children.

Fr. Joe at promotion cermony

Thursday, 26 April 2012 08:08

We wish to share with you a feature article about Fr. Joe and Mercy Centre recently published in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post Magazine.  You can view the article here. Please be a little patient – it may take a minute to download.

http://mercycentre.org/images/documents/sundaybusinesspost.pdf

Thank you all, as always, for your friendship and support.

Usanee and the Mercy Teams

Thursday, 12 April 2012 05:27

Songrkan at Mercy Centre

Yesterday we celebrated the Songkran holiday – as we always do, according to Thai traditions – by giving honor to our elderly neighbors. Hundreds of Klong Toey slum grandmoms and granddads attended the ceremonies, led by the Monks from Wat Saphan, our local Temple. Fr. Joe and Sister Maria spoke to our elderly neighbors, thanking them for being the heart and soul of our beloved Klong Toey slum: “You gave birth to your children here,” Father Joe said, “and  you raised your families here.... You are what make our slum a beautiful and holy place.  We are what we are today because of you.”

We wish all our friends a very Happy Thai New Year! (Photo gallery here.)

Songkran at Mercy, 2012

Friday, 30 March 2012 08:39

Please give a poor Mercy child a chance for life. Friends are launching a special scholarship fund to be awarded to the poorest children with the highest academic potential. With your support, one Mercy child will be awarded a full scholarship to the Marlorough College of Malaysia. 

Important: when making a donation on-line or by bank transfer, please write "The Mercy Marlborough Scholarship" in comments or instructions.

 

Donations by Wire Transfer

In Thailand:

Donate online: www.mercycentre.org.

You can donate by bank transfer directly to HDF in Thailand as follows:

Our bank details:

Kasikorn Bangkok Public Company Limited

Branch: Sukhumvit 57 Branch

Account: 046-1-03665-1

Account name:  Human Development Foundation

Account Type: Current Account

Bank Address: 1147 Sukhumvit Rd., N. Klongton, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Tel.: (662) 391 9434

Swift Code: KASITHBK

Note: Please inform us when making a wire transfer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, address, and donation amount, and a note indicating your gift is for "The Mercy Marlborough Scholarship". This information will allows us to track your donation to HDF and acknowledge your gift with a receipt and letter of thanks.


US Residents:

Donations for the Human Development Foundation (HDF) in Bangkok can also be made to the Mercy Center USA in Annapolis, MD.  Mercy Center USA (previously named HDCF) has been registered as a 501c3 non-profit, tax-exempt public charity in the US since 1999.

All donations flow through entirely to the Human Development Foundation in Bangkok. The EIN (Tax ID) No. is 52-2168462.5.  A written acknowledgement will be provided and the funds are fully tax deductible under US tax law as the foundation is an approved 501c3 organization.


For inquiries, donations by bank transfer, or monthly gifts, please contact Ms. True Rowan. 

You may donate online - www.hdcf.org - or write a check to "Mercy Center USA."


Address:
Ms. True Rowan

Treasurer and Vice Chairman

Mercy Center USA
P.O. Box 1604

Annapolis, MD 21404-1604

Phone -  (443) 837-7303 Website: www.hdcf.org

For inquiries, donations by bank transfer, or monthly gifts, please contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bank Wire Info;

Bank: Bank of America

Account # 4460 2418 6991

Account Name:  Human  Development & Children  Foundation

ABA # 026009593

Routing # 052001633

Address: 2120 West St. , Annapolis, MD 21401

Note: When making a wire transfer, please contact True Rowan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, address, donation amount, and a note indicating your gift is for "The Mercy Marlborough Scholarship." This will allow us to track and acknowledge your donation with a receipt and letter of thanks.

UK Residents:

Donations to HDF may be made to Mercy Centre UK, a registered UK charity:
Website: www.mercy-centre.org.uk

Foundation Secretary - Sue McAlpine
Mercy Centre UK
25 Wolsey Rd.
London N1 4QG
website: www.mercy-centre.org.uk
Please address inquiries to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I f you are a UK Taxpayer, Mercy Centre UK can receive an additional 25p for every pound donated through the government Gift Aid program.

Checks should be made out to The Mercy Centre UK.

To send donations by bank wire:

Bank: The Co-operative Bank

Account Name: Mercy Centre UK

Account #: 653 380 63

Sort Code: 089 299

IBAN #: GB37 CPBK 0892 9965 3380 63

Bank ID Code: CPBK GB22

Note: When making a wire transfer, please contact Sue McAlpine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, address, donation amount, and a note indicating your gift is for "The Mercy Marlborough Scholarship". This will allow us to track and acknowledge your donation with a receipt and letter of thanks.

Residents of Ireland:
Mercy Centre Bangkok
c/o/ Gerry and Violet Morrissey
103 the Rise, Mount Merrion
Co. Dublin
Tel.: 01 288 1577 
Please address inquiries to Gerry and Violet Morrissey

 

Thursday, 22 March 2012 07:10

Sea Gypsy Angel

Dear Everyone,

Our Scriptures say that Jesus fasted for 40 days & 40 nights. Then Angels came to minister to him. And I love that  ancient story dating from the 3rd Century that the Angels went to visit  Mary his Mother, asking her to cook Jesus' favorite food, so Mary cooked the food and the angels brought it to Jesus.  His first meal after fasting.

And also I believe that the picture above is most probably one of the Angel Children bringing/sharing her food with Jesus. Why not!  Our God is beyond space and time.  And this Mogan Sea Gypsy girl, named Miss Gah Yeek, living in destitute poverty on an island 40 minutes by fast boat in the Andaman Sea off Thai shore - a tiny island where we teach school and save lives. She is bringing her lunch home and meets Jesus on the way. And I’m sure He Blessed her and  ate a little bit to show politeness, (so she wouldn’t be offended)  then asked her to take the rest home to her little brother & sister.

Of course, she’s a very real little girl. Her dad’s at sea, left their Island a couple days ago for a 3 weeks as an illegal ‘hire on’ Sea Gypsy on an illegal fishing boat, pointed past Myanmar  towards India. When he left, he hugged her; gave her all the money he had which was about $.50 cents USD. Told her sternly to look after her little brother & sister. That he’d catch a big  fish – her favorite kind - they could cook and have a big meal. Said he’d be back as soon as he could.

So we honor her dignity and position. As you would do for any angel! Noon time at our shack kindergarten… just dish out a huge  triple-portion on her plate. The ritual is this: she eats her fill, tells teacher "my tummy is full." Then  teacher gently scolds her for taking more on her plate than she can eat, but teacher says, "Miss Gah Yeek you must take the extra food home. Don’t waste food !!!!"  And looking at her picture, as she walks home in the village -  I’m so  sure she has just met  Jesus along the way and offered Him some.

Surely times change. Truths do not. So this year, let this be our Easter Story. We teach – save lives of Mogan Sea Gypsy children down in middle South Thailand. A few days ago a friend took this portrait of Miss Gah Yeek." A portrait of hope, love, suffering,  hunger. Resurrection. Always hope – always a new tomorrow.

We at Mercy.  Me, fr joe, and our team… dream dreams and know that tomorrow is going to be beautiful. Our Jesus has Died in terrible suffering, but has Risen … overcome all the bad stuff. And this little girl…  well   what do I say …  perhaps… almost certainly that she has  seen the very face of God and lived. And may you all do the same.

Pray for us – rejoice for us – party for us – help us …Even to know – to have met – to speak to this Mogan Sea Gypsy girl is an honor and a privilege. To be able to give her a meal – send her to school – teach her to read and write. That’s glory beyond belief.  Glory none of us deserve here on this earth.

To you all, our Mercy Family - a Glorious Easter in which we all can share.

Fr Joe & all of us.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 06:38

Six Mercy Teachers
We have one hundred-and-thirty kindergarten teachers in our Mercy family who, on average, have taught at our schools over ten years. In this photo of six Mercy teachers, each teacher has taught in our Mercy Kindergartens for more than twenty years, except Kru Niphaphon, who is still young and just starting her career. (Please give her time.)

From the left:

Kru Wassana Jeawphuang– 23 years

Kru Ratchadaphon Ketcharan – 22 years

Kru Siriphon Leachaidee– 27 years

Kru Kanokphon Tewinram– 28 years

Kru Premchit Kramauamcharen– 32 years

Kru Niphaphon Phanket – 3 years

These six teachers were all raised in the Bangkok slums. They found their vocation at a very young age. Each one had a similar dream – to teach poor children how to read, write, count, fight germs, tell stories, say nice words, draw pretty pictures, sing old songs, dance their first dances, and play with friends.  Two teachers in this photo are graduates of our own Mercy Kindergartens – Kru  Kanokphon and Kru Niphaphon.

Last week we stole a few minutes of their time to ask a few questions

1) How many slum children have you taught to read and write?

The six teachers added up their individual numbers and replied, “over 5,000 children.”

 

2) How many bowls of rice have you served at lunchtime?

 

“Millions,” they said.

3) How many children’s tears have you wiped and dried on the first day of classes?

They decided the number was not infinite, but close: “Millions upon millions.”

4) How many giggles, laughs, and songs have you heard in your classrooms.

This time, they agreed almost in unison: “Over a billion!

5) And the hopes and dreams of your students? How many have come true?

More than a few. And that, they said, was the reason they love teaching.

 

Here are photos of their students learning, laughing, and dreaming, below and in our new gallery. All photos by Ian Taylor.

Yenakart School Kids

 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 03:43

Kru Wannit, age 6

Her parents picked recyclable trash for a living, mostly plastic bottles and newspapers, near their shack in the slum by Bangkok’s port.

Wannit, age 5, tagged along, helping her parents as best she could.

But five-year-olds tend to stray, and Wannit would often sneak away from her parents to peak inside a new slum kindergarten. – the biggest shack she had ever seen, filled with children her own age singing, dancing, drawing, counting, and learning their Thai abc’s.

She tried to be secretive and discreet as best as she could, so nobody would catch her spying, not her parents or the teachers or any of the students who, she feared, might laugh at her.

A few times, she was seen by the teachers, but slipped away quickly. Then, one day while peaking in, she felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around. It was Sister Maria.

Wannit wanted to run away.

“What’s your name, child?”

“Wannit, kah.”

“Nong Wannit, would you like to go to school?” Sister Maria asked.

That was the moment Kru Wannit’s destiny was set in motion.

Sister Maria and Fr. Joe visited Wannit’s parents in their shack to assess the family situation and formally ask the parents if their daughter could attend our kindergarten. Wannit’s parents, illiterate and destitute, joyfully agreed.  Sister Maria also arranged that dry food and sacks of rice be given to the family every month as there was no food in the shack and no child can learn on an empty stomach. The one-baht-per-day school fee was also waived.

Wannit’s joy was beyond measure. She says, on the first day of class she was the happiest child in the whole world.  And two years later, still overjoyed, she became a member of the first graduating class at our Lock 6 Mercy Preschool.  That was in 1974.

We continued sponsoring Wannit’s education through primary and secondary school; and at age sixteen she began interning as a teacher at one of our kindergartens while taking night classes to complete her high school diploma.

Today Kru Wannit is a teacher at our Yenakart Preschool. She has been teaching in our kindergartens for 28 years and has no plans to retire soon.

That’s a photo of young Kru Wannit above, which was sent to us a few weeks back from our first foreign volunteer teacher, Ms. Suzanne Leonard. Kru Wannit was delighted when we presented the photo to her, telling us she has no photos of herself as a child.

We asked her how many slum kids she has taught to read and write and count.

“Over a thousand,” she said.

Photos above. Kru Wannit as a kindergarten student - photo by Suzanne Leonard 1974. Photos below: Kru Wannit with her kindergarten students - photo by Ian Taylor, 2012. Class photo by Suzanne Leonard, Lock 6 Kindergarten, 1974.

Kru Wannit with her kindergarten students

First Lock 6 Kindergarten

Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:38

Kindergarten Graduation Day '12
Dear everyone,

Today is a grand and glorious day. All our children’s dreams come true today:
Graduation day for 500 of our kindergarten children.  Graduating from kindergarten 3 into the first grade into the normal Thai Government school system. We gather all the ‘graduates’ – dress them in “Graduation Robes” and make this the most memorable day of their lives thus far!!!!  And me, I dress in my Ph D Robes - which are ‘savagely awesome’ (to quote Gung Fu Panda #2) - and formally give each child a graduation diploma – signed by me and the local Government head man. All their parents are here and proud as only Klong Toey folks can be proud!!!

In our 40 plus years, counting today and tomorrow’s ceremonies, we have hit the 50,000 mark!!!! That’s right !!! Fifty Thousand children have gone through our slum school system. That “blows me away.”  What an honor and privilege to teach slum kids, who without this early schooling would be crippled for life –crrippled  meaning. a pretty much  illiterate future and sure  poverty. We’ve changed all that/  Actually, not us, the children themselves have done it!!!

So today, before all the ceremonies begin – I wanted to share this with you all, and thank you with all my heart – my deepest gratitude for making all of this possible. You, our Mercy Family, are  simply stupendous – beyond belief in your goodness to our 50,000 children throughout over 40 years.

Please continue to help – wouldn’t it be fabulous that you help child 50,001!!!!!

Must  go … they are calling me “do my bit” - to tell the children:  GO TO SCHOOL  GO TO SCHOOL  AND THAT THEY ARE  “MERCY GRADUATES.’

Because... what happens today…. is life changing and has to last for a life time.

Prayers   Respectfully  Fr. Joe

Photos above and below from today's graduation ceremony. Photo gallery here.
 In gowns and caps