Embed Embed this video on your site Fr. Joe recently gave a commencement address at the 2011 United World College - Nordic Red Cross graduation ceremony. In his address, Fr. Joe deconstructs The Hobbit as he gives the graduating students advice on how to give back as young adults.
Our children have been attending the United World College in Norway on academic scholarships for the past eight years. As Fr. Joe notes in his address, our first United World College graduating student (and a graduate of our Mercy Kindergartens), Ms. Wanwisa Promsote, is currently earning her doctoral degree in neuroscience in the US.
Published, Bangkok Post Sunday Spectrum, July 10, 2011
We've got the one family picture of baby Puk Pik. That's it - a picture that his dad somehow missed when trashing the rest. Taken eight years ago when he was a baby, maybe six months old, with his real mum holding him and dad standing by. Puk Pik is nine now, an orphan until a few weeks ago.
A slum-dressed lady who said she was his auntie brought him to us, then disappeared into the dawning day.
Now there's proof of his past. We found dad - hiding, avoiding us, whatever you want to call it - and dad had the picture.
Puk Pik's dad had kept the picture hidden almost nine years from his new wife. He knew she'd go into a rage because he promised she was the only one. His first and only. He told our social workers his new wife doesn't know about his HIV either.
For four decades, Father Joe has been a beacon of hope for some of Bangkok's poorest children. Now two filmmakers are hoping to document his inspiring life
By Annemarie Evans
An Irish-American priest talks to the camera as he sits at a table in the slums of Klong Toey, Bangkok, Thailand. It's September 2009. Father Joseph Maier describes how a hospital contacted him asking if he could look after a little girl who was blind and had Aids. She had been run over - by her parents.
"This is where you really wonder about the world," the then 69-year-old priest says. "You can understand warlords and pimps and addicts doing these horrible things. But the parents? Oh, boy! [They] used and abused this child and then tried to kill her. I'm not sure if the devil would compete on this level."
It's one of several disturbing scenes in a 15-minute film, which its two Australian filmmakers want to turn into a 90-minute documentary, called Father Joe and the Bangkok Slaughterhouse. The central character is Father Joe, a charismatic Redemptorist priest from the United States, who has been living in the Klong Toey slum since 1973. Shortly after he moved in, he set up the Human Development Foundation and its Mercy Centre, which now employs 330 people and runs 22 kindergartens, as well as a hospice, four orphanages and several other establishments, across Bangkok. "The Slaughterhouse" is a particularly poor area, set around the Klong Toey abattoir, where pigs are killed at night.
Today we celebrated “Wai Kru” Day at our Mercy Centre – the day students throughout Thailand give thanks to their teachers. On this day, all students enrolled in our Korczak School for street children and representatives from ten of our local slum kindergartens invited their teachers to celebrate in a pageant of thanksgiving, music, dance, gift-giving, and blessings. (Please visit our Teachers' Day photo gallery. Previous Teacher Day galleries here, here and here.)
What happens to those girls who sell flowers on the streets and in the bars and restaurants in Bangkok? They come and they go. But where do they sleep? Who cares for them? What happens to them when they are too old to be flower girls?
Father Joe wrote a story about one such girl from his Parish in the Slaughterhouse neighborhood - a lady now in her thirties who sold flowers in the Pat Pong sex district beginning at age five. The article, written in 2004, is titled, "When Flower Girls Grow Up," and you can read it here.
Recently a documentary filmmaker, James Linwood, has returned to this story. We want to share with you a short clip (only about one minute long) that James put together about the flower girls of Bangkok. Fr. Joe narrates. You can watch it here.
Some of our best friends in the world have recently started “The Irish Foundation for Mercy Centre,” a charity based in Dublin that will help raise awareness and increase support for our Mercy Centre in Bangkok.
The Irish chapter is the initiative of musician and Folklorist, Professor Mick Moloney of New York University. Mick Moloney, along with Paul Brady, Michael and Lucy Johnston are the surviving members of Irish Folk Group “The Johnstons,” one of Ireland’s most famous musical families. The other founding member Adrienne Johnston died in 1981. The remaining members will perform a reunion concert in Drogheda on Saturday June 25 at the first annual Johnstons Music Festival.
The June 25 performance will also serve as a celebration of the formal launch of “The Irish Foundation for the Mercy Centre.” Fr. Joe, our Executive Director Ms. Usanee, and Mercy colleagues will be attending the concerts and wish to invite all our friends throughout Ireland to join in the celebration for the best of music, mirth, and craic.
For more information on “The Irish Foundation for Mercy Centre,” please contact the foundation director Mr. Gerry Morrissey: