Mandate: To give every poor child the chance to go to school.
Number of Mercy Kindergartens: 23 in Bangkok, 1 in Ranong Province for ethnic Mokan (sea gypsies).
Student Enrollment: Over 2,500 poor children, ages 2 to 7 years old.
Mercy Kindergarten Graduates: Over 40,000
In 1973 Father Joe Maier became the Parish Priest of the Slaughterhouse neighborhood in Bangkok, where an enclave of poor Catholics worked as the butchers of pigs and other livestock. When Fr. Joe first arrived, few children in his Parish were enrolled in government primary schools. Those few who attended school were failing.
His solution: Father Joe and and the co-founder of HDF-Mercy Centre, Sister Maria Chantavoradom, transformed an abandoned eight-room wooden structure into a one-baht-per-day preschool open to all Slaughterhouse children regardless of their backgrounds and religions. The Imam of the local mosque and the Abbot of the local Buddhist temple joined together with Fr. Joe. No child was turned away.
Word of this first preschool spread to other poor communities, whose leaders asked Fr. Joe to open kindergartens for the children in their own neighborhoods. More Mercy preschools soon followed. Two, three, and sometimes even four new Mercy Kindergartens opened in each of the following years. By 2001, HDF-Mercy Centre was operating 33 preschools spread throughout the poorest neighborhoods of Bangkok.
Mercy Preschool Benefits to the Community:
1)Poor children are educated in preparation for entry into elementary school.
2)The mothers of the school children are free to seek work during the day.
3)The schools give a certain stability, pride and dignity to the slum communities. The schools demonstrate to the local government that these communities are a living and viable part of the city.
School Curriculum: We follow the Thai national curriculum and make sure that our school children gain their first lessons with a sense of triumph and joy. They can say with pride, "We learn to count, to dance, to sing, to tell stories, to play new games, to brush our teeth, to fight germs, to say nice words, to make friends."
Nutrition-Health: One out of five children comes to our schools malnourished and hungry. We provide a lunch that for most of these children is their most nutritious meal of the day. In addition the children are given fruit and protein snacks in the morning and after naptime. We also measure the children's health and development throughout the school year.
A Community Partnership: The communities help construct and staff the schools located in their neighborhoods. The HDF receives a 10 to 15 baht fee from parents or guardians each school day - just a fraction of the real costs to operate the Mercy schools. This fee is waived for over 500 of the poorest children. The poorest children also receive school supplies, book bags, shoes, and uniforms at no cost.
Additional School Program Benefits: Our preschools are at the core of our foundation’s community outreach and child protection activities.
Preparing Communities to Run Their Own Schools: Whenever we open a new school, it is never our intention to "own" this school forever. Our goal has always been to strengthen the surrounding communities so that someday they can operate their own schools. In recent years, we have been able to turn over eleven Mercy preschools to their communities.
To reach out to the children living in the slums on the furthest margins - every rag-picker's kid, every construction worker's kid, every garland seller's kid - and teach them how to read and write.
Related Mercy Centre Education Programs:
Our Thanks to Our Mercy School Sponsors:
- Arisaig Partners
- Kurt Meinen and Lisa Thompson
- The Lighthouse Club
- The Lotus Foundation
- Recreational Bangkok Biking Ltd.
- UBS Securities (Thailand) Ltd.
- Wings of Support
Mercy School Budget 2011-12
A note on School Budgets: The parents and guardians of the school children support their school with a 10-baht -per-day fee, if they are able, in partnership with our schools. We also receive partial subsidies for teachers' salaries, milk and some school supplies. The figures below represent HDF's actual out-of-pocket costs before deducting fees and subsidies.
School Name Thai Baht US$*
Rimtangrodfai:367,105 Baht, US$ 12,236
Flat 10 Dindaeng:SponsoredSponsored
Kae Ha Klong 9:469,756 Baht, US$ 15,658
Zone 9: 564,107 Baht, US$ 18,803
Flat 23-24: 607,342 Baht, US$ 20,244.73
Flat 17:705,037 Baht, US$23,501.24
Ceuplongnai: 763,834 Baht, US$ 25,461
Poonsab: 796,845 Baht, US$ 26,561
Chokechai Ruammith:1,004,290 Baht, US$ 33,476
Flat 12:1,402,867 Baht, U$46,762.24
Zone 8: 1,474,407 Baht, US$49,146.91
Lock 6: 2,003,262 Baht, US$66,775.42
Sukhapibal: 2,069,301 Baht, US$68,976.72
*Dollar figures fluctuate according to currency rates vs Thai Baht