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Sunday 1st August 2004 I paid a visit to the orphanage.

They have a new building going up that naturally I have noticed for some time when visiting with my monthly donation. As I needed something to write about and itís been sometime since I have spoken to Fr. Giovanni I decided to give him a ring to see if I could come and see him this day. He was on his way to the beach with the kidís so I agreed to come down there and see him, naturally taking Black and Noi with me. An afternoon out for us all. We first called at the center to take a few photos of the new building, which is coming on just fine. As Fr, G told me, a little over budget and a little behind schedule but nothing too serious, not by Thai standards anyway. The main reason itís over budget is an additional third floor which is going to be a gym and play area for the kids, so nothing serious there. The money for the project has come from an Italian contribution of 64,000EU. Being behind time - well itís not by much and this is Thailand. Fr, G expects it to be finished by the end of September with an official opening in November. However I am sure it will be made use of even before the last tile is laid. I do hope I get an invitation to the opening.

As I say the Children who do make it here are the really the lucky ones. This day was dull and over cast with quite a strong wind blowing. However I am sure the you can picture the seen on a nice day.

I will have to put a knot in something to remember to add a picture of the finished building in November.

On the first floor will be class rooms, day care facilities and toilets. The second floor will have new dormitories. So making space for more children. But not enough, Fr, G estimates that there are 30,000 such orphaned children that need his help in Thailand at any one time. Certainly, our contributions are helping but not as much as I wish they could. I donít know where it was from now, maybe Dickens, in which one of this caricatures from Victorian English times said that to lose one parent was unfortunate but to lose two was downright careless. Well something like that anyway. So I make the point here just because that is the way it is here.

This aspect of Thai society is about 150 years behind the west. A good few years ago now when I was relatively new to Bangkok and living with my English girlfriend, Michelle, after only being there a few days, she asked what would happen if I were to get sick having no money and needing medical treatment. She had been used to the English medical system all her life. The answer was hideously simple, you either find the cash or you die.

This is the view from the front gate, naturally it will look a lot better when the work is finished.

 One of the last times I was down there Fr, G attended the international HIV/AIDS convention recently held in Bangkok. He said it was very useful in respect that itís a very good talking opportunity for exchanging ideas and naturally acquaint more and more people of the subject and their understanding of the situation. 

Still today in the villages where 85% of the sixty million Thai people live, anybody suffering with HIV/AIDS is shunned, kept away from people as an outcast. Not to far removed from how people must have been treated in the times of the Black Death. OK, well that may be slightly over the top but not by much. This is all through ignorance and little to no education in most cases. So you see these few children that can be seen at the beach on a something less than perfect day are the very lucky ones, although suffering with HIV/AIDS . They are getting the best medical treatment, an excellent education and a chance in life that for sure they would not stand a chance of without our help and help from many other people and organizations.

In June and July our contributions have taken a massive leap forward, no doubt in some way helping the over-budget situation of the new building. The reason for this is not a huge upsurge in my business but a truly massive donation by Mr B from America. I would love to show you who he is and tell you from which State he comes, but I canít since he wishes to remain totally anonymous which I respect in full. This has made our donation jump to nearly 10,000USD in the year from September 2003 to the end of July 2004. So there is still one month to go; letís see what you can do.

The building workers bring there children to work with them. Now I am thinking about it I wonder why this little girl didn't go to the beach with the rest of the Kid's, although she is not one of the orphans but the doubter of the young girl you can see who is working as a building labor on the site.

Young Thai girls are a very common site in the building trade here.

Another thing I wanted to discuss with Fr, G was a party for the kids at my new flying club at Chonburi - just to make sure he approved of the idea and the kids had time at the end of August and were not engaged in some other activity in that period. All was approved so itís now up to the head man there to see if he feels that itís a good idea. I suggested it to the manager Mr Youtin who was keen to pass the suggestion along so I will let you know what becomes of that as matters unfold.

One more thing that is happening in August is my first holiday in about 6 years. So ok, my wife would say that my life is one long holiday and to be honest I couldnít in all honesty disagree with her too much because if you really enjoy what you are doing then itís not really work at all. As they say life is what you make it, but that is hard work in itself and believe me you really do have to work at it. The reason I am taking a holiday now is two of my children, whom I have not seen in 2 Ĺ years are coming over from the 6th of August until 26th of the month. I am meeting them at the airport at 6am and we are all jetting of to Phi Phi Island in the south of Thailand.

John who is sixteen and six feet tall, in particular wants to go diving. Fortunately I have a friend who I know from flying who has a dive center there so Phi Phi is the one. It was the setting for the film, The Beach starring that very strange little man Leonardo something or other, looks more like a girl doesnít he?  So even before I do a story about the whole trip with photos you get the idea of what a beautiful location itís going to be. John also likes to fly and is a member of a junior Royal Air Force association back in England and has no idea yet that he will be going flying when he gets back from diving and I am not going to tell him either, I want to see his face when we pull into the airfield and he is handed his flight helmet. Sarah my daughter tells me she loves to shop; tell me of a thirteen year old girl who doesnít. Oh, never mind that, tell me of a woman of any age who doesnít, but is very sporty so I hope she enjoys what I have in store as much.

Fr, G with just a few of the kids that where at the beach that day. As you can see the children are close to him and this is not just for the photo he is in all respects of the term there farther. He is certainly not the stereotypical old strict priest that is depicted in so many films.

To me he is a straight up bloke doing his very best for as many children as he can in this situation.

Good people do what they can. On leaving the beach this day I noticed that the beach restaurant owner waved the bill for all the sodas.

 Now one of the reasons for telling you all this is that I may be a little late in answering emails during this period. Not that I wonít answer them a.s.a.p. Phi Phi has internet cafťs so no problem there but from the 6th to the 12th I will be unable to ship anything. Any orders that come in during that time will be shipped on the 13/14th. Naturally there will be other days while out on trips that shipping will be impossible but there should be only a small delay in any orders coming through during the whole period.

   

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