Last Saturday, May 7th, our house moms, house dads, and all our Mercy children held a goodbye party for nine children. Six children are joining their real families while three are now age twenty and wish to start out on their own in life.
Reuniting children with families often takes years of outreach. Many Mercy kids have no parents. Or their parents are in jail. Or addicted to drugs. But these children do have aunts, uncles, and grandparents who can and will love them as family.
A few examples: One boy, Em, who has been a part of our family at Mercy for ten of his sixteen years, will be joining his Grandmom in Bangkok. Another boy, Geng, age sixteen, also a ten-year veteran of Mercy, will be joining his Uncle in Chonburi and attending vocational school in computers. Ti Noi, age 13, is being adopted by the Thai family who took care of him for years before he joined us. Kwang, age sixteen, has joined her Grandparents in Nakorn Pathom. Jangjao, age sixteen, is now living with her aunt.
Our goodbye celebration was all about family. We shared in our children’s joy; gave them farewell presents (giant hand-painted pillows signed by every Mercy kid); wished them every blessing in life along with lots of encouragement; and reminded them that they always have a second family here at Mercy.
Today is the first day of the new school year at our 22 slum preschools. Over 2,500 children are enrolled, including over 800 children who are entering their first year of classes. For those first-year kids, this is the first day of school ever!
It's also the first day they’ve ever been separated from their moms and grandmoms. Tears were flowing freely throughout the morning. And we expect more tears in the mornings and afternoons ahead. It’s the same every year. But by the second week, the new kids get the hang of it; and their tears turn into giggles, laughter, and pure, unadulterated enthusiasum as they approach each new lesson of the day. (Photo above – second-year students are happy to be back in class; photo below – a first-year student thinks her world is over.) Photo gallery here.
This Saturday, April 30, the US Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Kristie Anne Kenney and friends from the US Embassy visited our Mercy Centre to join hands with our children. As our children guided their guests on a tour of Mercy Centre, H.E. Ambassador Kenney took special time in the Mercy Graphic Arts Room to help paint batiks with our children and made a special stop in their Computer Centre, observing how our children are gaining skills through learning software. Following the tour, Ambassador Kenney, our guests and friends from the US Embassy, all our children, plus their house moms and house dads joined together to make art, draw pictures, and dedicate the day, like every day at Mercy Centre, to the strength and joy in every child’s heart. (Photo above, Ambassador Kenney, guests and our Mercy children; photo below, with our triplets, Fon, Fah, and Fai. More photos here.)