Hello from wet and rainy Nongkhai!
We just received what might be the last donation for our annual fund raiser. It is from Ceboride, a 120 mile one day bike ride held in July in Wisconsin that generated over $90,000 this year; a record, despite the awful economy. We have 168 children with us who are orphaned and abandoned by aids-infected parents. Over half these kids have AIDS. We also serve medicine and supplements to infected children still with relatives, through our Outreach Program. Needless to say, there would be a lot of sick and dead children, save for the efforts of the Ceboriders and the generosity of the organizers and donors!
As if dealing with AIDS was not enough, we are all under an 8-day quarantine because of a devastating flu that is going through our province. All but 20 % of our staff and kids got really ill from this type of virus which they found is a form of swine flu. I am also quarantined, since I also have it. I haven’t been this sick for years. The babies have been wretchedly ill. I don’t know why the nuns do not close their school for a week.
The one piece of good news is that the rains are good and the rice really looks good and if this continues, we may well have enough rice planted to feed over 200 kids and staff a day for the whole year. I bought more rice paddy, and some old families let the kids plant their fields as well. The boys take great pride in their farm work, whereas the girls are much less enthusiastic, since the mud blackens their finger and toe nails, and the sun turns them dark.
Late May brought us two new kids, a boy and a girl, from different provinces, but who both have AIDS and are blind. They began studying Braille and learning English, etc. They are great kids, about 10 years old, and their blind teacher takes them to town to ride buses and shop and bank. The boy has since begun to learn how to play a guitar and the girl also is studying ukulele. It is amazing watching them walking around like sighted people.
We are gearing up to build a hall with a basketball court, stage, bathrooms, kitchen and store room. The donor, who owns a big construction company, has asked us to call it the “Joseph and Mary” hall. It will really be a boon for the kids, since when it rains, it is hard to find places for them to do stuff and to put off plays and skits, and just to raise hell in general.
I hope you have a nice fall and great colors and long weeks of autumn weather. God bless you!
Fr. Mike and Fr. Maythee, the staff and the kids