by Scott Murray
President Bush with Fr. Joe Meier at the HDF.

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 Road
Soi 40, Phra Khanong
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Tel: (662) 392-7981, 381-1821 Fax: (662) 391-4968
E-mail: thague@mozart.inet.co.th

or visit Scott Murray’s web page at https://www.scottmurray.com for more information.

Khlong Toei (also Klong Toey, Thai: คลองเตย) is a district in central Bangkok, long known for substandard housing. It is bordered by the Chao Phraya River and contains major port facilities. It is also the name of a major market, though not touristic. The market is served by the Bangkok Metro station Khlong Toei on Rama IV Road.
The district was once part of Phra Khanong. It was later separated into a new district on 9 November 1989. Originally Khlong Toei consisted of 6 sub-districts. Three of which have since left to form the new Watthana district (announced on 14 October 1997, effective from 6 March 1998).
The area has a history dated back to the ninth century as a port to cities upstream along Chao Phraya River. It was a city called Pak Nam Phra Pradaeng (Thai: เมืองปากน้ำพระประแดง) as oppose to the current Amphoe Phra Pradaeng built during King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke period. Khlong Thanon Trong (Thai: คลองถนนตรง) was a khlong (canal) and a parallel road built by King Mongkut around 1857. Later, it became known as Khlong Toei and Khlong Hua Lamphong for different sections of the canal. Khlong Toei means the canal of pandan as the plant grew along the southern bank of the canal. The road was renamed to Rama IV Road by King Vajiravudh in 1919. In 1947, a large portion of Khlong Toei canal was filled up to expand the Rama IV Road surface.
The Khlong Toei Port, also known as Bangkok Port was Thailand’s only major port for sea transportation of cargo. The construction began in 1938 and finished after the end of World War II. The port is located on Chao Phraya River not far from Gulf of Thailand. Due to its limited capacity and traffic problem caused by semi-trailer trucks, much of shipping operation has been moved to Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri Province since its opening in July 1991 (from Wikipedia).

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