One of the most colourful and charismatic people in Thailand is Father Joe Maier, the Director of the Human Development Center in Bangkok. In recognition of his years of dedication to the poorest of Bangkok's inhabitants, Father Maier has been awarded the Most Noble Honor of the Crown of Thailand, Fifth Class, which was conferred by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The Human Development Center is an integral working unit of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bangkok, operating under the auspice of His Excellency Cardinal Michael Meechai Kitbunchu. Father Joseph H. Maier has been its director since 1973.
It has always been the intention of the Center that their efforts, and the solutions for which they strive for, would be realized not only by the Catholic minority, but shared by all people living in Bangkok's slums. The vast majority of Thais, in urban slums as elsewhere, are Buddhist. With the exception of emergency situations, the HDC aims to provide guidance and leadership, rather than hand-to-mouth donations. Twenty-five years ago, the Center was simply a safe place of refuge in one slum. In the time since, some 500,000 poor have benefited directly from the Center's work.
The HDC strives to do kind, simple and concrete efforts to help people help themselves. The HDC supports the following:
MERCY CENTER: Mercy Center has two separate, yet complementary, functions: first as a hospice, and second, the Center operates an Outreach program.
HOSPICE: Mercy Center's primary purpose has always been as a hospice, which functions as a kind of family for those who don't have one.
SKIP: THE SLUM KINDERGARTEN IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM: The original goal, which today remains essentially unchanged, was to teach basic literacy and self-awareness to young boys and girls.
COST OF THE SKIP PROGRAM: "TEN-BAHT-A-DAY SCHOOLS": HDC's school system is directed at the poorest of the poor, people who have virtually no other opportunities.
OUTREACH PROGRAM: For those kids they cannot convince to come to Mercy Center, they offer the Outreach Program.
THE GIRL'S HOME: The objective of the Girls Home is simple: keep young girls off the street, and provide them with a safe place to live, and an education, and thus a chance.
COMMUNITY HEALTH DEVELOPMENT & ISLE OF PEACE: HDC opens its doors to all those who are sick. The majority of patients are HIV positive, and HDC provides them with a comfortable place to regain their strength.
HOME FOR MOTHERS & BABIES WITH AIDS: The house will provide mothers and their children with love and affection that is so essential, but is absent from so many of those with HIV or AIDS.
COLGATE-PALMOLIVE: For many years, Colgate-Palmolive has been sending HDC its usable "rejects" for distribution to the poor in the slums and elsewhere in Thailand.
For further info contact Father Joe or the HDC at:
3757/15 Sukhumvit Rd
Soi 40, Phra Khanong
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Tel: (662) 392-7981, 381-1821 Fax: (662) 391-4968
or visit Scott Murray's web page at http://www.scottmurray.com for more information.