This past Monday, December 13th, HRH Princess Srirasmi, the Royal Patroness of the Human Development Foundation, celebrated her birthday with the children of Mercy Centre.
This was her second birthday visit to Mercy Centre. Last year, as a gift to HRH the Princess, our children promised that they would go to school, study hard, and be honest and polite with friends, family, and everyone they meet. This year our children renewed their promises and gave a performance of music, dance, song, taekwondo, and (among our youngest children) the Hula-hoop.
HRH Princess Srirasmi was especially moved by the children’s rendition of the old Thai song, “The Lotus Dance,” - a song, she said, she sang as a child – and asked a favor of our children to sing the song again. Our children proudly and passionately gave their Princess an encore performance. Photos by Chawalit Kumsatok. Photo Gallery.
Galong was in his mid-20s, living on the street, and working as a “doorman” at a bar near the Pratunam market when we found him fifteen years ago. Born with a kind of Downs’ Syndrome, he could speak only a few words, and unfortunately they weren’t the ones he needed to explain where he came from or how he came to live by himself in the most crowded neighborhood in Bangkok.
We don’t know much about Galong’s past, but we have a pretty good idea how he survived on the street: he is incredibly good-natured and loves to help people. Galong comes at you like a burst of joy, and his joy is irresistible. During his years on the street, many kind people must have looked after him.
Others, however, were surely less kind. As a perpetually innocent child, Galong could never possibly negotiate his way through an adult world without facing abuse and injury.
Our Rimklongwatsaphan Kindergarten, one of eight preschools we operate in Klong Toey, is a modest wood-frame schoolhouse located right next to a canal, about 200 meters from the Slaughterhouse. It may not look like much, but in the past twenty years, over 1,000 slum children have graduated from this head-start Mercy Preschool in preparation for government primary schools. These are children who might never have gone to school or learned to read and write their names. On its 20th anniversary, we held a grand celebration. (Photo gallery here.)
The children, including several recent graduates, performed in song, dance, drums, horns, and even Hula-hoops.
This last Saturday at Lumpini Park, friends of Mercy ran the first of 10 10-Kilometer runs on our foundation’s behalf as a part of the California Wow Corporate Wellness Program in celebration of their 10th Anniversary. More runs are taking place all week at California Wow tracks around Bangkok and in Chiang Mai. Please call California Wow for details if you would like to join in a run! Photos above and below show our Mercy Children with Fr. Joe, Usanee, House Moms, and California Wow’s Eric Levine at the Saturday run in Lumpini Park.
Royal Visit Gives Formal Recongition of HDF Status As Being Under Royal Patronage.
Bangkok, Sept. 2, 2010, HRH Princess Srirasmi, the Royal Patroness of the Human Development Foundation, visited our Mercy Centre in the port area of the Klong Toey community in recognition of the newly awarded status of the foundation. During the visit HRH unveiled a plaque signifying the foundation's new status.
HDF currently cares for 180 abandoned, abused and orphaned children who go to school and live as family in the foundation’s Mercy Centre. Fifty-seven of these children were born with HIV. The Foundation also runs 24 kindergartens, teaching and feeding almost 4,000 children day. Included in this are the Sea Gypsy Mogan Children in Koh Lao Island off the wharf of Ranong in mid-South Thailand. Plus a legal aid project representing 100 children a month in police stations and children’s court.
All our Mercy children prepared for the Royal Visit as only children can do such things – with a sense of magic, unbridled anticipation, and love – to greet HRH the Princess when she arrived and to perform traditional Thai songs and dance in the Princess' honor.
HRH with our Mercy kindergarten children. Top photo: HRH with Nong Peh, a blind Mercy child.
We want all our children to know where they are from – to have a strong sense of place and home outside of Mercy Centre - and to understand and love their real families.
Mercy kids go home whenever possible. Sometimes our children may join their families for just a weekend, short holiday or school break. Other times, whenever the home life is safe, nurturing, and loving, our children stay home, and we can help from a distance, just when needed.
Over the recent Mothers Day extended weekend, we held a three-day family workshop in Suphanburi Province, which brought together 46 Mercy kids, 14 moms, 2 dads, 16 aunties and grandmoms, several Mercy House Moms and House Dads, plus Ms. Wannee, our director of shelter programs, and Sister Maria. Every moment was dedicated to the strengthening of family bonds. And there were many joyous and tender moments.
(More photos at our Family Workshop gallery.)