Over 500 Bangkok children are currently enrolled in our Education Sponsorship Program. These are among the poorest children in Bangkok – children who could never afford the most basic school necessities without the support they receive from our education sponsors. These children are also at a very high risk of HIV, starting in their teenage years.
Last week we brought together all the teenagers – over 100 in total – to participate in AIDS education seminars at Mercy Centre. They were given the facts; they joined in role-playing exercises; they played games and contests. We came at them directly, indirectly, and from effective angle to teach them about HIV prevention. Our education teams also conduct seminars, geared to each audience, in high schools in high risk communities as well as after school in our kindergartens for the parents and guardians of all our kindergarten students.
During a world tour sponsored by the International Peace Foundation, the renowned Clown Reinhard visited Mercy last Saturday and performed in front of a tough and demanding crowd of 100 Mercy children. Yet as tough and demanding as our kids normally are, it didn’t take Clown Reinhard long to win them over. In fact, the moment he appeared, introduced himself, sat down on a chair, and fell on his behind, he had our children in stitches. Several young boys and girls were rolling on the floor with laughter (see photo below). After the show, Clown Reinhard gave a playful clown workshop for our kids. Photo gallery (more children's smiles) here.
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.