45 Years of Mercy Centre
The Human Development Foundation’s Mercy Centre is celebrating its 45th anniversary. What started in 1972 as a single one- baht- a- day preschool in the slums of Klong Toey has since expanded into a network of over 30 schools all over Bangkok, which have graduated an estimated 50,000 underprivileged children.
Today, in addition to schools, the Mercy Center operates orphanages and homes for street kids, assists children and adults living with AIDS, provides emergency assistance and home repair to slum families affected by crippling floods and fires, and acts in cooperation with community members to mediate activities involving welfare organizations, housing authorities, governmental agencies, and the Port Authority of Thailand. Eponymous with the Mercy Centre are its founders, Father Joe Maier and Sister Maria Chantavarodom. They have been the heart and soul of the Mercy Centre for 45 years and have dedicated their lives to helping and empowering the underprivileged in the area that is known as the “Bangkok Slaughterhouse.” Their hard work and dedication have inspired others and donations have been pouring in from all over the world.
The slum shack preschool is now a multi- structure compound which includes a 400- pupil kindergarten, a home for street kids, a home for mothers and children with AIDS, a 26- bed free AIDS hospice, a legal aid anti- trafficking unit, and various administrative offices that oversee operations ranging from a sponsor- a- child program, to community health and outreach services. “The Mercy Centre has created opportunities for people to improve their situation through education and health access. Adults and elderly receive community support, housing, and saving opportunities. Children in danger develop into responsible individuals in the safety of our shelters surrounded by love, nurturing, and caretakers,” says Sister Maria in her thank- you letter to the Centre’s staff.
AMCHAM Thailand and its members have been contributing to the Mercy Centre for over a decade. Each year, donations gathered at AMCHAM’S annual Eggnog Party are bequeathed to the Mercy Centre, totaling close to Baht one million over the years.
AMCHAM wishes the Mercy Centre many more decades of providing a beacon of hope to those who need it most.
2016 AMCHAM Board President Brad Middleton ( second from left) handed funds raised at the Eggnog Party held on December 8, 2016 to Mercy Centre’s Father Joe Maier ( far right)
Father Joe with U. S. Ambassador to Thailand, Glyn T. Davies, and Mrs. Davies at AMCHAM’S Eggnog Party on December 8, 2016
Brad Middleton with the Mercy Centre children
Father Joe speaks at AMCHAM’S monthly luncheon in March 2016