Full lockdown at the Center
27/04/2021 - News
Father Alberto Pensa, a missionary for almost 50 years in northern Thailand,writes to us from the Holy Family Catholic Center, during the school holidays, updating us on the health situation of the Southeast Asian country
Ban Pong, April 25, 2021
The children went on holyday one month later than usual, because the closing of the school year has been postponed. At the moment, unfortunately, I don’t have good news regarding the situation related to Covid-19.
The first and second wave spared Thailand, touched by only very few infections, if compared with what has been going on in Europe. This third wave is proving much more worrying.
In fact while in March we had an average 140 weekly new infections, now the number surged to 1500 and while the disease was limited to Bangkok and some other provinces in that region, now it spread all over the country. Maesai district of Chiang Rai province is the worst affected area. And we live here.
Our activity is also marked by the global pandemic.
We were able to celebrate Easter, with the necessary restrictions: mask, distance, but immediately afterwards the lockdown began at least until May 1st.
Easter for us here at the Center was never an important event because it always happened during the school holidays. The few people who remained followed the fathers to the villages.
This year, however, the children were here and I was able to celebrate Easter together with all the children, girls and staff present. The other fathers went to the villages
Despite the restrictions about travels and movement, many people who work in Bangkok, came back home for the water festival (sonkran) to spend a few days with their family. This probably explains the increased number of infections.
The opening of the school year usually scheduled at mid-May, has been postponed to the beginning of June.
The pandemic is also affecting the life of the Center.
In fact , due to the restrictions on travelling, the visitors have disappeared. We could rely on people from Taiwan, Japan, and lately from China and Hong Kong. They used to come to visit us, (“we heard about the Center and we wanted to know and see by ourselves”), they appreciated our way of living and of forming the children and youth and they supported us by buying our products and spreading their new knowledge.
On Saturday 10th of April we held a special gathering to wish a fruitful period of rest with the family to the children and most of the girls and to bid farewell to those who completed their elementary school. The group of older girls organized the day with sport, games, competitions, football.
The party continued during the evening with various dances and performances, with the greetings of the six, three girls and three boys, with their parents who had come for the occasion and culminated with the embrace of the family of the Center.
The father of one of the boys said: “I’m here to encourage my daughter who has finished elementary school. I spent here 8 years. Now I have my three children here, this is the first one, then there are another girl and a boy”. The father of another one recalled that his sisters learned to read and write here at the Center, they did a good apprenticeship of preparation for life. Now at the Center there are his nieces and nephews. Heartfelt thanks.
They were given a “bracelet”, a sign of that permanent bond that was born, grew up and will continue to be alive throughout their lives in memory of their second family: the Holy Family Catholic Center.
It’s always a moment rich of emotion. Even if this day has now become a tradition, the feeling always changes from year to year. I remember when these little children, accompanied by their parents, a little frightened, arrived at the Center, now it’s up to us to experience this passage.
I have never considered this moment as a goodbye: What has been sown here will sprout into their lives, and they will always have a special place in this family.
All the children and some of the girls joined their families in the mountain villages, while here at the center a group of girls from Myanmar remained blocked by the closure of the borders following the coup d’état in the country. The situation is really serious.
About 30 girls could not come last year because of Covid19. And now this which is even worse than Covid19.
I greet all of you with the hope of being able to share news of a different nature next time.
Father Alberto Pensa