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Kid's weekend 2004

Early in 2004, Paul Watson a member of the fledging Rotary Club of Koh Samui (ROCKS) visited the Mercy Centre in Bangkok. There he met Father Joe Maier who had founded the Centre some 25 years previously. Father Joe had seen the plight of street children in Bangkok, especially those who were orphaned, and he had started a school to give some semblance of order in the lives of these children. Later, with the aid of Khun Ratana, he found a room over the pigs’ slaughterhouse in Klong Toey, and began to offer a home to these desperate children. Years later, an American business man offered to build him an orphanage to house the greatly increased number of children. That orphanage now gives a home to 250 children, many orphaned by the ravages of AIDS, or escaping from abusive parents.

Paul was fascinated by the history of the Mercy Centre, but observed that while the children were cared for, educated and were happy in their surrogate home, their environment in the heart of Klong Toey left a lot to be desired. He proposed to Father Maier that a selected group of children would be welcome to come to Koh Samui and spend ‘the weekend of their lives’. Father Maier agreed, though with the proviso that he and Khun Ratana would accompany their precious charges.

A group of the children traveled by overnight coach to Koh Samui in October 2004. They were met at the ferry terminal and driven in members’ vehicles to Lamai, where they were treated to a burger lunch, hosted by Rotarian Colin Jones. Afterwards they were driven to Weekender Resort where they were greeted by GM and Charter President Ken Chung. Once checked in, the children were taken to the beach where they enjoyed the sea and games. Later they traveled to Chaweng where they were hosted by Tropical Murphys with supper and entertainment.

On Saturday they enjoyed the morning splashing around in the swimming pool, until lunchtime when they were treated to lunch at Siam Bar and Grill, hosted by President Paul Hawkins. In the afternoon, they had an exciting trip to the Tiger Zoo, followed by the Snake Farm and show to round off a busy day. The evening was spent quietly at the Weekender Resort.

Sunday brought the end of the children’s magical trip to this beautiful tropical island. Father Joe and Khun Ratana both agreed that it had been a spectacular success, and when a return trip was offered for the following year, they jumped at the chance.