On September 8, 2011, The Thai Ministry of Social Development and Welfare, together with the Street Children’s Network of Bangkok, honored three Mercy social workers at an awards ceremony held at the Siam Society in Bangkok.
These social workers, whose stories we have outlined below, have demonstrated an exceptional level of caring in the protection of poor children. They represent everything we stand for, especially in their love for the poorest of the poor, and we are incredibly proud of them.
Khun Kittisuk Piyakul (Phong)– Mercy Social Worker and House Dad
When Kittisuk was just seven years old, his parents were desperate. Without money to care for or feed their son, they took Kittisuk to the Hualampong train station in Bangkok, told him to wait, and then left him alone in the hope that a kind adult would eventually find and protect him. Days passed. Then weeks and months. He became a “train station” street kid,” and he was living by begging for scraps and spare change when a Mercy social worker found him and persuaded Kittisuk to join our family.
After completing his secondary education and reaching young adulthood, Kittisuk stayed with our family at Mercy Centre and received training as a drug addiction counselor for street children. When we opened our home for boys on a plot of farmland near the new airport, Kittisuk became a House Dad and began studying agriculture. Today he helps our boys plant, grow and harvest our rice, fruit, and vegetable crops. Most importantly, he is a caring House Dad. He knows what our boys have gone through on the streets. They listen to him. They trust him. Kittisuk is their guide, mentor, uncle, and best friend.
Khun Watecharapol Changlech (Mos) – Mercy Hospice and Homecare Social Worker
Watecharapol, like Kittisuk, came to Mercy Centre by way of the streets. He was a teenage street kid, helpless, alone and far too gentle, meek, and sickly to survive for long. Adults and street children continuously took advantage of him until the day a Catholic Brother found Kittisuk sleeping in front of a seedy bar and guided him to Mercy Centre.
Here at Mercy Centre, Watecharpol has flourished. His gentle nature – nearly always a fatal weakness on the streets – is now his greatest strength. Today he tends to the patients in our AIDS hospice and visits patients in their homes. In everything he does for our patients, he is kind, soothing, reassuring, and caring. His gentleness now saves lives.
Khun Narisaraporn Asipong (Kru Nang) – Mercy Street Social Worker
The street children of Bangkok call Narisaraporn an angel, and they are surely not far from the truth. She looks after the most vulnerable children on the streets in angelic ways: she provides food and clothes for her children; takes them to doctors when they are ill; teaches them life-skills; enrolls them in schools; works with their families whenever possible; and enlists the support of temples, churches, mosques, and local government ministries. She will do whatever it takes to make her children safer and happier. It helps that she is fluent in Thai, Lao and Kmer, but what helps most is her beautiful heart.
Someone told her street children by the Rama III Bridge that she was to receive an award at the Siam Society. They banded together and came to the Siam Society ceremony, each with a single red rose to give honor to their beloved Narisaraporn – their mom, teacher, and friend for life.
Photos – Top to bottom: i) Mercy Staff with Bangkok Street Children, ii) Mercy House Dad, Kittisuk, receives award, iii) Watecharapol with Jutima Jongjet, the director of Mercy’s HIV/AIDS Programs, and iv) Narisaraporn with Executive Director Usanee Janngeon
Do you remember, as a child, making artwork with pens, pencils, and crayons? Most of us, in our early childhood, would come home from school with drawings that we were proud to show our moms, Our moms, in turn, were at least equally proud to keep and display our art - usually in kitchens and especially on refrigerator doors.
But our Mercy children don’t have real moms and dads to come home to. And with 200 children in our care, we don’t have enough refrigerator doors to show off all their artwork.
We are justly proud of what our children create. Their art is beautiful, joyful, reaffirming, and full of love. Please think of our art gallery as the wall of a huge family kitchen with an enormous refrigerator door! You can view our children's new art gallery here. Gallery of children art classes here.
If you happen to be driving or walking past our Mercy Centre, you may wish to stop by for a delicious cup of coffee. The students who attend our Janusz Korczak School for street children have set up a coffee stand in front of Mercy Centre, which they man before school and after lunch, offering freshly brewed cups of coffee for just 10 baht per cup. Ice coffee, mocha and espresso are the current best sellers. The coffee stand manager, Ms. Sherry (age 14, her birthday was yesterday!) says that their stand is making a little bit of money: “The rainy season isn’t helping business, but we are well situated to capture the 70 Rai neighborhood market.” Most importantly, the school children, all of them former or current street kids, are learning how run a small business.
The street kids who live around the Rama I Bridge phoned our Street Teacher, Kru Nang, last week on Mother’s Day, and told her that she must visit them. “It is urgent, “ they said, “but we can’t tell you why. Just come right now. We need you.”
When Kru Nang arrived, the children presented her with garlands of flowers and told her that in their hearts, she was their mom. Tears flowed freely. Even strangers passing by were moved to tears by the beautiful ceremony. (Photo gallery here.)
Early this morning we celebrated Mother’s Day at Mercy Centre and gave honor to Her Majesty the Queen on her birthday and to all of our House Moms and all the moms who are a part of our Mercy Family.
Monks from our local temple, Wat Saphan, joined us at Mercy Centre. Since our local temple is also a “half-way” home and treatment centre for many poor adults addicted to drugs, we each gave gift bags of rice, canned foods, milk, and other essentials for the adults in their care. The Monks prayed and blessed our home and family. The schoolchildren from of our Flat 12 Kindergarten performed in dance. And everyone at Mercy Centre sang together for the love of our Queen, our mothers, and our children. It was another beautiful morning at Mercy Centre. (2011 Mother's Day Photo gallery here. Previous Mother's Day gallery here.