Sarnelli House has been very lucky to have escaped the horrors of Covid 19 which have afflicted so much of the world. Thai people have done very well adhering to the guidelines of face mask wearing, social distancing and hygiene. Local governments and village elders have been strict about isolating returning migrant workers and the national curfew was respected by all. As a result there have been only 58 recorded deaths in a country of over 70 million. While any death is tragic, it could have been a lot worse and it is all the more impressive considering that on January 13, Thailand was the first country in the world outside of China to diagnose a case of coronavirus.

Sarnelli House implemented its own lockdown in early March. Children were confined to their houses and gardens, staff trips to Nong Khai were limited, and guests and visitors were asked to stay away. This meant over half a dozen volunteers having to return home or cancel their trips. Strict hygiene routines were introduced and the nursery was split in two, with the older infants relocating to an empty house in Don Wai village. The children behaved perfectly, and save for the odd teenager trying to hop the wall to meet a boyfriend in the first week or two, any concerns about restlessness and cabin fever among the kids were completely unfounded.

Over the course of March and April, twenty young adults returned to Sarnelli House from universities and colleges, work experience programs or closed hotels. They were all quarantined in Charlene House and another building for the mandatory 14 days and none displayed any symptoms of the virus. They soon settled into life back in the houses with their friends or younger brothers and sisters. Some became tutors, others worked as gardeners or on the farm and our nursing student helped Kate to take temperatures and assess the children at each house every morning. Almost ten of our former residents lost work and needed help to pay rent and feed themselves. This is an ongoing situation and while a couple have rejoined the education program rather than be unemployed, the economic impact is quite severe for many Thai people.

On top of this, with the border to Laos currently closed, three Laotian women have recently come to Sarnelli House seeking help. One has advanced cancer and the other two are women living with HIV. One of these women is pregnant and the other has just given birth. All three face hospital bills they cannot afford to pay and the Outreach program has begun to support them with their care. 

Sarnelli House has been affected by the economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic as well. The annual Cebo Ride and other fundraisers have been cancelled this year and this has had a serious consequence on our finances. Sarnelli House is very fortunate to have been blessed with donors and friends to help with our various programs. The education program, for example, is hard to fund every year, but, thanks to generous foundations and the child sponsorship scheme, it is fully funded for 2020. It is the food and medicine programs that have taken a hit from the cancelled fund raising events. Last year’s rice harvest was very disappointing but various friends have been trying to help out with that, and the pig project provides enough pork for the kitchens, it is the other costs that add up. Costs like cooking condiments, gas, oil, electricity, vehicle maintenance and insurance may not be as interesting to donors as an education program or Outreach project but Sarnelli House would not survive without them. The recent development of the vegetable gardens certainly helps our costs, but salt, cooking oil, fish sauce, sugar and spices have to be bought and in large quantities to feed over 150 people two or three times a day. 

"We have accepted three new children in the past few weeks. An abandoned three month old baby girl, an 18 month old boy and a six year old boy with HIV. They have nothing but whatever we can give them. Fr. Shea has never turned a child away, taking in kids with physical and intellectual disabilities, with HIV/AIDS and victims of abuse, innocent children who nobody else wanted. They flourish here, receiving good, healthy food, a chance to have an education and most importantly of all, safety, love and dignity."

It will cost Sarnelli House over $130,000 to feed the children and staff for the year and another $30,000 will be needed for energy costs. This is money we will struggle to raise this year. Foundations and charities around the world have many genuine and worthy causes seeking their assistance. And people everywhere are more financially strained than ever. But the children of Sarnelli House need help for 2020. If you or anyone you know can spare a couple of dollars, it would be greatly appreciated. Help us to help them.

To make a donation to the children of Sarnelli House, please see here or use our online donation option

Thank you

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