Today at Mercy Centre we celebrated the birthday of Galong, our oldest Mercy boy. Born with a type of Downs' Syndrome and abandoned to the streets in his youth, he was found by our social workers over twenty years ago near the Pratunam Market, and has been living with us as an older brother to our younger boys ever since. When we found him, he had no given name, so we named him "Galong," a Thai bird without a nest. And he had no documentation, so we made Valentine's Day his birthday - because that is what he is about: absolute love and joy. We don't know his exact age, so we approximate. On Valentine's Day, Galong celebrates his 49th birthday. Happy Galong's Day, everyone!
What a difference a bowl of rice makes! What joy a toy brings to a child in our shelters!
Gifts-in-kind make a huge difference in our ability to protect and shelter poor abandoned and orphaned children here in our Mercy Centre. Such gifts especially impact the operation of our 23 kindergartens and schools for children living in construction worker camps. We rely on gifts-in-kind in everything we are trying to do.
A beautiful example: foodpanda, a restaurant delivery service, asked its customers to select gifts for Mercy during their 12 Days of Christmas “Light Up a Soul” charity campaign. The results: almost a ton of the most important stuff we need – from rice and cooking oil to toys and stationery.
Gifts-in-kind help lower our operating expenses in the care of our children, our HIV/AIDS patients, the street children we protect daily, and our poorest neighbors in the slums. They allow us to reach out further to support the poorest communities that government ministries and non-government organizations either ignore or don't even know exist.
Please note: Because of customs duties, we cannot accept gifts-in-kind from abroad. However, if you live in Thailand, there may be no better way for you to help those who need our help the most. Photos above and below: Mercy Kids with Panda, staff, Fr. Joe Maier, and foodpanda MD Alexander Felde.
Mercy Centre is hardly a household name in Spain, but we do have many kind friends, and we wish to thank them all for the concert they organized on behalf of our sister charity, Mercy Menorca. All proceeds from the concert, called “Semillas de la vida” (seeds of life), performed this past November in Barcelona, will go to support our program to protect and defend Bangkok’s street children. Our heartfelt thanks ring out to all the performers, including dancer Ayako Zushi, pianist Gloria Argany, and the poet Luisbel Rodriguez, who conceived of the concert and brought it to fruition. Thanks also to all guests who helped make the concert a beautiful event. And most special thanks to Mercy Menorca! For more information on how we care for street children, please visit our program page here. (Photo below by Ian Taylor: a Mercy social worker with a child beggar on the streets of Bangkok.)
In celebration of Thai National Children’s Day, each of our 23 kindergartens held a spectacular sports competition this morning that featured running races, musical chairs, and even a highly skilled balloon-popping event.
Was it a memorable day? Was it ear-shatteringly loud? Was it insanely fun? Yes, Yes, and YES!
Cheerleaders, along with percussive bands, inspired their teams to near-deafening victory. Every kid earned a gold or silver medal. Every kid ate plenty of ice cream and cake. Every kid went home a winner. More photos on our facebook page here.
Our Mercy Christmas Pageant, spiritually joyous, beautifully choreographed, featured performances by our Mercy children, our Mercy Kindergarten students, and the poorest children in our community whose education we sponsor from kindergarten onwards. The pageant energy reached its peak with a final performance by our Mercy boys band, aka KIDS ROCK, who brought all the children to their feet, plus most adults, to dance to the joy of the beat. Photo gallery on our facebook page here.
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Mercy as the leading HIV/AIDS community organization in the poorest Bangkok communities, we are still battling issues of awareness and prevention. The general populations in the poorest communities are still unaware of their rights to receive access to health care relating to AIDS. These rights include access to health checkups, blood tests, consultations, medicine, and follow-up care. Their ignorance of their rights is due mainly to the stigmatization of people living with AIDS within Thai culture and society.
This project will battle community ignorance and encourage people to learn about their HIV status. In concert with government health care centres, we will promote the VCCT program (Voluntary Counseling, Confidential Testing) – a program that will encourage every member of our communities, especially young women and teenagers, to be tested for HIV.