ASIA/THAILAND - “I was evangelised by the poor”: missionaries work to help fishermen victims of the seaquake

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Bangkok (Fides Service) - Camillian Father Renato Attrezzi reports on the work of staff from the Camillian Hospital in Bangkok and the San Camillo Hospital di Ratchaburi, helping the tsunami victims who have lost everything but hope. Here is our translation of the letter he sent to Fides:
“Dear friends, I wish to tell you about my most recent visit to our people working in the affected areas.
We realise immediately the vastness of the tragedy and directed our assistance to a group of 186 fisherfolk who had lost everything in the disaster in which 80 people died and some are still missing. Many fled to the hills about 3 km from the sea and here we made our camp to listen to their stories and offer the necessary assistance. At the same time we contacted the local authorities in order to work together. At the end of the emergency stage, on 20 January people will start moving into wooden huts put up by the army. To show their gratitude to us the local people insisted that we be the first to move into the largest of these huts.
We have 108 children in our care. They live in tents with their families and school has started, not in the building which was destroyed but in other buildings or sometimes in teachers’ homes. We are registering individuals in view of ongoing aid which will start in March and be given to groups. Then we will see how to assist people who are alone and place them with a family or some institution. Gradually we are helping to rebuild their lives and this is important.
Besides assisting children we also help to rebuild homes, buy boats and fishing equipment, we run a school and a dispensary.
After illustrating our programme I must share an experience of our personnel in two hospitals. Many are non Christians and they serve those in need with charity and generosity. After setting up a medical camp they began to examine patients and listen to their stories. Very often they get up in the night to change bandages, but they always have smile. Their daily work is intense. They carefully record examinations and treatment, they welcome visitors and distribute food parcels for families. In the evenings they improvise songs and dances and jokes to make the patients laugh
This experience convinces me of a truth which I continue to repeat to myself convince: “I am evangelised by the poor”. (AP/RA) (19/1/2005 Agenzia Fides; Righe:45; Parole: 499)