New Year in Thailand – traditionally – is 13 April. The fifth moon of the Lunar Calendar. So Blessings to each of you for the coming year.
May your rice harvest be abundant with enough to eat in the coming year for you and your children. May your ponds and water ways be abundant with fish. May your water buffalo calve healthy offspring. May your own children be strong and a joy and honor to you. And may your own elders bless you specially. Tomorrow is the day you pour Lustral water – perfumed and flowered – over their hands and bow at their feet thanking them and asking wisdom and courage for the coming year.
I write this from a “Bangkok under siege” We do not know what will happen.
Born 23 years ago out of a desire to keep her husband strong plus save a few precious baht, Auntie Muey's restaurant on two wheels is a Klong Toey legend
She started her fast-food career selling second breakfasts to "sweat labour" workers in the Klong Toey River Port from her bicycle. They'd walk the seven minutes from the riverside docks to a hole they'd knocked in the wall between the Port and the slum.
Auntie Muey was on the slum side of the wall. Safe from nasty Port Authority guards who would want free second breakfasts from her!
Easter Letter 2010 –
Holy Week – Easter – Meet you at the Jubilee - and a medium sized piece of Chocolate with only one bite taken out.
It’s Friday morning in Holy Week. The Day Jesus Died. We wear Black Clothing in sorrow, mourning and respect, leave our jobs for the day, if we can, eat simplest of food, take off our shoes to walk barefoot in solemn procession to show respect to the Holy Cross. Once again, we formally “Tell our Sacred Stories.” Re-live these Events to ourselves and our children. We, today in our turn, as our ancestors have done for 2,000 years.
They put on their robes. Donned their caps. And with great pomp, circumstance, plus a few giggles, 702 children celebrated their Graduation Day at Mercy Preschools throughout the slums this week. It was an especially joyous day for their families as moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmoms joined their children in the celebrations.
At the ceremony, Father Joe, in his doctoral robes, spoke to the children about the importance of staying in school, as he has on every graduation day since 1973. “If you’re hungry and have no shoes, what do you do?” he asked them.
by Father Joe Maier, C. Ss.R.
Our almost eight-year-old Klong Toey Miss Nong Ming made the Bangkok 10 o'clock night TV news a couple of nights ago. She shouldn't have though. In fact, it was "bad form".
True, the camera blurred her face, but, "darn it", for some dumb reason they blurted out her full name and showed the place where her family camped out under the tollway along with Miss Nong Ming playing with other street kids, recently off the street at a "family child protection centre".
This past Sunday 40 children from the Human Development Foundation’s Mercy Centre attended Mass at Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok. It isn’t unusual for these former street children, who are raised in the Buddhist religion of their mothers and grandmothers, to join in a Christian ceremony. Their home at the Mercy Centre, founded by Father Joe, is a religious house; and the Mercy children are brought up to respect all religions.
But this was a particularly special ceremony for these poor slum children. Following Mass, Father Joe received a replica of the holy icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa on behalf of his children, and all slum children in Klong Toey, as a symbol of protection, joy, and love.
The holy icon was presented as a gift to the children from the Polish Embassy of Thailand, represented by First Counsellor, Dr. Zygmant Langer, and blessed by Msgr. Marek Zalewski, Deputy Head of Mission Apostolic Nunciature, before the children carried the icon from the Cathedral to its new home in Mercy Centre. (Please see our Photo Gallery.)
A glorious ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on January 15. The school children performed in song and dance. Community leaders gave thanks. A grandmother in a drunken state sang an ancient Thai song (over and over until we gently cajoled her to the sidelines). Sister Maria spoke with the children. Father Joe blessed the new school. It truly was a wonderful day for the children of Zone 9. (Please see photo gallery.) In attendance: the school children, their teachers, community leaders, and representatives of the school construction sponsors, which included Wings of Support (a charity comprised of KLM Airlines fight crew members), Recreational Bangkok Biking, The Netherlands Embassy, Franke (Thailand), B-Quik, NVT Dutch Club of Thailand, East West Seed Intl, and Asia Congress.
Last Sunday was "harvest day" for our boys living on our farm. Former street kids, these boys now grow their own vegetables, catch their own fish, and plant and harvest the rice they put on their dinner table. Early on the morning of harvest day, our Mercy girls dropped by the farm to prepare lunch for their Mercy brothers. Once they saw how hard their brothers were working, they decided to pitch in, and in the end, everyone, both our boys and girls, harvested together. It's amazing how our boys have taken to a country lifestyle. In the past they had no confidence, no self-esteem, yet now they are thriving in school, sports, friendship and life.
The Golden Triangle Multi-Challenge: Hike -2 days, Cycle-3 days, and Kayak-2 days. 350 KM
This year a wonderful Dubai-based charity - Gulf for Good - will be sponsoring a Holiday Challenge around the Golden Triangle. Proceeds will go to the Human Development Foundation for capital improvements, specifically for building urgently needed shelters for our boys living on our farm. Gulf for Good has been sponsoring challenges for our foundation and others for many years, helping disadvantaged children all over the world. We invite all our friends to join in the Golden Triangle Challenge. Dates to be announced. Full challenge details here.
On Dec. 24th, HRH Princess Srirasmi celebrated her birthday together with our hospice patients, our Mercy children and our kindergarten students. Over 500 children joined together in a joyous outpouring of song and dance and birthday wishes. As a gift to the Princess, our Mercy children made several promises: they promised to be good, to study hard, never to take drugs, never to harm the environment, to spend wisely, to work together in harmony with society, and, most importantly, to do everything with with a generous heart. The Human Development Foundation is under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Srirasmi. Photos: Above: in our hospice with Mae Jiap and her baby named "Big." Below, with Mae Moiee.