Bangkok – Tuesday, June 22
For sixteen years Inside Thailand has been visiting the Mercy Center in Klong Toei slum, which includes a kindergarten for slum kids, a hospice for AIDS patients, and an orphanage for HIV-positive children. Mercy Center was begun 40 years ago by a remarkable man named Father Joe Maier, who continues to serve as director of this facility 30 other preschools and kindergartens throughout the city.
Our visits are always at once sobering and inspirational — the latter in large part because the Mercy Center is staffed almost entirely by members of the community it serves and, against all odds, nurtures a profound and pervading sense that life, no matter how brief or difficult, is a cause for celebration.
It is also important to note that while Father Joe himself is a Catholic priest he makes no attempt to convert any of the people he serves from their own native Buddhist and Muslim religions. I am proud to call him a friend.
We are leaving the hotel now, and after dinner at the station we will board our sleeper train for Chiang Mai.