วันพฤหัสบดี, 22 มีนาคม 2555 07:10

Sea Gypsy Angel

ในพระคัมภีร์เล่าว่า พระเยซูเจ้าถือศีลอดอาหารเป็นเวลา 40 วัน 40 คืน เทวดาได้มาดูแลพระเยซูเจ้า ผมชอบนิทานโบราณศตวรรษที่ 3 ที่ว่าเทวดาไปเยี่ยมแม่ของพระเยซู และถามว่าลูกชอบกินอะไร และแม่พระก็ได้ทำอาหารนั้นฝากเทวดาไปให้พระเยซู ซึ่งเป็นอาหารมื้อแรกหลังจากที่ได้ถือศีลอด

ผมเชื่อว่าเด็กที่อยู่ในรูปภาพนี้เป็นเทวดา ที่นำอาหารมาให้พระเยซูเจ้า แน่นอน เพราะพระเจ้าของเราอยู่เหนือกาลเวลา และเด็กหญิงคนนี้ ชื่อกายิก อาศัยอยู่บนเกาะเล็กๆซึ่งต้องใช้เวลา 40 นาทีโดยเรือเร็วเพื่อขึ้นฝั่ง ที่เกาะเล็กๆแห่งนี้ เป็นที่ที่ปลอดภัย และเราใช้สอนหนังสือ เด็กหญิงคนนี้กำลังนำอาหารกลับบ้าน ระหว่างทางได้พบกับพระเยซูเจ้า เด็กหญิงคนนี้ได้ชวนพระองค์กินอาหาร พระองค์กินอาหารเพียงเล็กน้อย และให้นำอาหารนั้นกลับไปให้น้องๆที่บ้าน และพระเยซูเจ้าก็ได้อวยพรเธอ

แน่นอนเธอคือเด็กผู้หญิงคนหนึ่ง ซึ่งบิดาเป็นชาวมอแกนมีอาชีพรับจ้างหาปลา ได้ออกทะเลเพื่อหาปลา แต่ละครั้งนาน 3 สัปดาห์ ก่อนที่บิดาจะไปหาปลา ก็ได้กอดลูกสาว และให้เงินที่มีทั้งหมด 20 บาทแก่กายิก ซึ่งเป็นพี่สาวคนโต ให้ดูแลน้องๆ และ พ่อจะกลับมาให้เร็วที่สุดพร้อมกับปลาตัวใหญ่ เพื่อทำอาหารที่ลูกๆชอบ

เราต้องให้เกียรติแก่ทุกคน เช่นเด็กหญิงกายิก อาหารมื้อเที่ยงที่โรงเรียน เธอตักอาหารเต็มชาม แต่เธอทานไปเพียงนิดหน่อย และบอกว่าอิ่มแล้ว คุณครูจึงพูดว่าหนูตักอาหารมากเกินไป แต่ไม่เป็นไร หนูควรจะนำกลับไปให้น้องๆที่บ้าน มองดูในภาพเธอกำลังเดินกลับบ้าน ผมเชื่อแน่ว่าเธอได้พบพระเยซูเจ้าระหว่างทาง และได้แบ่งอาหารนั้นให้พระองค์ด้วย

วันเวลาเปลี่ยนไป แต่ความหวังยังคงอยู่ต่อไป ปีนี้เทศกาลอีสเตอร์ ที่พระเยซูเจ้าสิ้นพระชนม์ และกลับเป็นขึ้นมาใหม่ โดยชนะความอนิจจัง และกลับมีความหวังใหม่

พวกเราชาวเมอร์ซี่ เรามีความฝัน ความหวังว่าวันพรุ่งนี้ จะเป็นวันที่งดงามและสดใส สำหรับเด็กหญิงคนนี้ได้มีความหวังเช่นกันว่าวันพรุ่งนี้จะ เป็นวันที่สวยงาม บิดาจะกลับมาพร้อมปลาตัวใหญ่ และอาหารมื้อพิเศษสุด

ในเทศกาลอีสเตอร์นี้ ขอให้ท่านนึกถึงสมัยที่ท่านมีอายุเท่าเด็กหญิงกายิก ท่านมีความสุข มีความฝัน และมีความหวัง เราโชคดีที่ได้รู้จักเด็กหญิงกายิกคนนี้

คุณพ่อไมเออร์ และชาวเมอร์ซี่

วันพุธ, 21 มีนาคม 2555 06:38

Six Mercy Teachers
We have one hundred-and-thirty kindergarten teachers in our Mercy family who, on average, have taught at our schools over ten years. In this photo of six Mercy teachers, each teacher has taught in our Mercy Kindergartens for more than twenty years, except Kru Niphaphon, who is still young and just starting her career. (Please give her time.)

From the left:

Kru Wassana Jeawphuang– 23 years

Kru Ratchadaphon Ketcharan – 22 years

Kru Siriphon Leachaidee– 27 years

Kru Kanokphon Tewinram– 28 years

Kru Premchit Kramauamcharen– 32 years

Kru Niphaphon Phanket – 3 years

These six teachers were all raised in the Bangkok slums. They found their vocation at a very young age. Each one had a similar dream – to teach poor children how to read, write, count, fight germs, tell stories, say nice words, draw pretty pictures, sing old songs, dance their first dances, and play with friends.  Two teachers in this photo are graduates of our own Mercy Kindergartens – Kru  Kanokphon and Kru Niphaphon.

Last week we stole a few minutes of their time to ask a few questions

1) How many slum children have you taught to read and write?

The six teachers added up their individual numbers and replied, “over 5,000 children.”

 

2) How many bowls of rice have you served at lunchtime?

 

“Millions,” they said.

3) How many children’s tears have you wiped and dried on the first day of classes?

They decided the number was not infinite, but close: “Millions upon millions.”

4) How many giggles, laughs, and songs have you heard in your classrooms.

This time, they agreed almost in unison: “Over a billion!

5) And the hopes and dreams of your students? How many have come true?

More than a few. And that, they said, was the reason they love teaching.

 

Here are photos of their students learning, laughing, and dreaming, below and in our new gallery. All photos by Ian Taylor.

Yenakart School Kids

 

วันพุธ, 14 มีนาคม 2555 03:43

Kru Wannit, age 6

Her parents picked recyclable trash for a living, mostly plastic bottles and newspapers, near their shack in the slum by Bangkok’s port.

Wannit, age 5, tagged along, helping her parents as best she could.

But five-year-olds tend to stray, and Wannit would often sneak away from her parents to peak inside a new slum kindergarten. – the biggest shack she had ever seen, filled with children her own age singing, dancing, drawing, counting, and learning their Thai abc’s.

She tried to be secretive and discreet as best as she could, so nobody would catch her spying, not her parents or the teachers or any of the students who, she feared, might laugh at her.

A few times, she was seen by the teachers, but slipped away quickly. Then, one day while peaking in, she felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around. It was Sister Maria.

Wannit wanted to run away.

“What’s your name, child?”

“Wannit, kah.”

“Nong Wannit, would you like to go to school?” Sister Maria asked.

That was the moment Kru Wannit’s destiny was set in motion.

Sister Maria and Fr. Joe visited Wannit’s parents in their shack to assess the family situation and formally ask the parents if their daughter could attend our kindergarten. Wannit’s parents, illiterate and destitute, joyfully agreed.  Sister Maria also arranged that dry food and sacks of rice be given to the family every month as there was no food in the shack and no child can learn on an empty stomach. The one-baht-per-day school fee was also waived.

Wannit’s joy was beyond measure. She says, on the first day of class she was the happiest child in the whole world.  And two years later, still overjoyed, she became a member of the first graduating class at our Lock 6 Mercy Preschool.  That was in 1974.

We continued sponsoring Wannit’s education through primary and secondary school; and at age sixteen she began interning as a teacher at one of our kindergartens while taking night classes to complete her high school diploma.

Today Kru Wannit is a teacher at our Yenakart Preschool. She has been teaching in our kindergartens for 28 years and has no plans to retire soon.

That’s a photo of young Kru Wannit above, which was sent to us a few weeks back from our first foreign volunteer teacher, Ms. Suzanne Leonard. Kru Wannit was delighted when we presented the photo to her, telling us she has no photos of herself as a child.

We asked her how many slum kids she has taught to read and write and count.

“Over a thousand,” she said.

Photos above. Kru Wannit as a kindergarten student - photo by Suzanne Leonard 1974. Photos below: Kru Wannit with her kindergarten students - photo by Ian Taylor, 2012. Class photo by Suzanne Leonard, Lock 6 Kindergarten, 1974.

Kru Wannit with her kindergarten students

First Lock 6 Kindergarten

วันอังคาร, 21 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555 04:23

Mother Gung with her children
By Father Joe Maier, C.Ss.R. Published in Bangkok Post, Spectrum, Feb. 19, 2012

Mother Gung says her own mother used to tell her, "Daughter, you were born just after sunset in the Year of the Tiger _ that time of day when Mother Tiger is hungry and going out to look for food for her babies. Sometimes you find food, sometimes you don't. There will be tough times."

And her mum was right, as mothers usually are.

This past month Mother Gung was in the afternoon fresh market, pushing the cart carrying her mob of four (her tiger cubs, as she calls them), warning them not to stray from the cart and run around, as three-year-old kids like to do. Mother Gung was on a mission to buy red chillies, the hottest she could find.

In this same market was an old fortune-teller, down on his luck - not begging, of course, as fortune-tellers consider doing so below their station - but desperately looking for folks who might want their fortunes told. He told Mother Gung he would "take a reading" from an old tree near the market, a tree well known for giving winning lottery numbers, but also known for being quite moody and at times arbitrary, meaning it also gives non-winning numbers.

อ่านเพิ่มเติม...

วันพฤหัสบดี, 16 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555 08:29

Mercy Boys

Dear Friends,

It’s early afternoon as I write you – a day much like any other day at Mercy.

Our kids are all in school. Our patients are gossiping and laughing in the garden behind our hospice. Members of our slum women’s credit union come and go, depositing ten or twenty baht in their savings accounts and sharing news of their family with our social workers.

It’s sometimes difficult to put a precise measure on what happens here day-to-day. There are so many moments that don’t fall neatly into a statistic.

But the statistics we keep at Mercy Centre are meaningful, and I wish to share a few of them with you on this beautiful day:

2011 Statistics – The Scope of Mercy Outreach:

Children Receiving Assistance:

Mercy Centre Children:                                                            237

Kindergarten Students                                                              2,493

Education Sponsorships/Bangkok                                            621

Education Sponsorships/Sea Gypsies                                       387

Legal Aid Cases                                                                        1,177

Janusz Korcak School Students                                                32

Koh Lao students                                                                      50

HIV/AIDS Homecare                                                                59

International College Students                                                  12

AIDS Education and Outreach                                                  1,505

Obtaining Birth/Identify Documents                                         125

Street children we protect daily                                                221

Adults and Families Receiving Assistance:

Micro-loans                                                                             170

Credit Union Members                                                            802

Hospice patients                                                                       123

HIV/AIDS Homecare Patients                                                365

AIDS Outreach at Government Hospitals                               3,534

Koah Lao Sea Gypsy Project/Families                                    268

Janusz Korczak School/Adult Students                                   73

Elderly and indigent                                                                 103

New Homes and Repairs                                                          13

One more statistic (I’ve saved the best for last): Twenty-four Mercy children were able to return home last year to live with their families.

From the first day a child joins our Mercy family, we begin to look for the child’s real family and explore ways to bring the child home.

Sometimes it takes years to reunite a family with a Mercy child, but we never give up. One 16-year-old Mercy boy named Boat thought he had no family at all. This week, for the first time, he met his Auntie and a half-sister. His story is so complicated it would take hundreds of pages to explain, but the most important point is this, as Boat himself explains: “I never thought I was anybody. I didn’t even have identity papers. Now I know who I am.  I am somebody!”

Thank you, everyone, for your support. Please do visit our Mercy Centre.  You are all a part of our Mercy family.

Usanee Janngeon and the Mercy Teams

Mercy kids at play

วันอังคาร, 14 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555 06:25

sponsorship kids

When you visit a shack where poor children live, you'll find that they have next to nothing they can call their own: no toys, no books, not even a mattress to sleep on. Worst of all for the poorest of these children, they have no chance to go to school. 

These children cannot afford school fees, books, uniforms, daily lunch or transportation. Their parents have no dependable income, and often collect recyclable garbage for daily rent and a few bowls of rice. In many cases, their parents have left them in the care of a destitute grandmom or auntie.

We send these kids to school.

We dig deep into our own pockets and find kind sponsors from around the world to make sure these children have a chance in life.

Last week over 300 of the poorest of these Bangkok slum children held their annual party at our Mercy Centre.  The older children organized the party themselves; chose the gifts to give out to the younger children (most popular item – a bedroll); cooked and served the food; gave inspired speeches; and rallied their friends in a grand celebration of life – a celebration of going to school! (Photo gallery here.)

sponsorship child