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.