July 9, 2006
The Bangkok Slaughterhouse
LOCATION: Bangkok, Thailand
SEE WHERE WE ARE!
Longitude: N: 13.76172°
Latitude: E: 100.49303°
Miles from Singapore: 1478
In 1973 Father Joe Maier settled in the slum area of Klong Toey, renowned as the 'slaugherhouse' district of Bangkok where thousands of pigs are butchered each day for the capital's kitchens. Over the past 30 years he has built an impressive organisation called the Human Development Foundation that operates 33 kindergartens, providing over 4,500 slum kids, ages 3 to 6, their first lessons in reading, writing, Thai folklore and history, song, dance, sports, religious celebrations, and more. The central facility, or Mercy Centre as it's known, also gives slum kids a place to find refuge from the streets when their parents are at work and also houses the biggest HIV/AIDS hospice in Thailand.
The Bangkok arm of our sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management wanted to do a press event while the expedition was in town, as well as tie-in to a local cause for the long term and make a donation of 300,000 Baht (around $8,000 USD) in the short term. It made sense to find a similar organisation and cause as the Rumah Solehah in Kuala Lumpur where we also initiated what will hopefully be a long-term financial support arrangement. And somewhat by accident - reading a story about Father Joe in the book 'Thailand Confidential' by Bangkok ex-pat Jerry Hopkins - I stumbled across the inspirational story of this man and his nondemoninational devotion to the plight of the poor in Bangkok's biggest slum.
Now and then I meet what I would classify as a real hero or heroine on this trip. People that have truly transcended living a mediocre life and are doing something worthwhile that needs fixing.
So once again it was a true privilege to visit such a facility and meet these amazing children who are either living with very little, or have very little (time) to live. Those who have full blown AIDS know they are sick and are going to die once the medicine ceases to be effective. But you wouldn't know it from the video images.
Please find out more about the Human Development Foundation
Posted on July 9, 2006 4:03 PM
For anyone from the US who reads this, it's important to realize that $8000 is a lot more in Thailand than it is in the USA. This is a very generous contribution to a problem that is huge in Bangkok and many other places.
Even more important is that contributing to charities is not as common a practice in Thailand as it is in the US, so this type of corporate donation makes the company an incredible role model.
Jason - thanks for pointing this out. I had heard of Mercy Center but didn't know anything about it, really, until now.
Posted by: Carl Weaver at July 14, 2006 3:09 AM