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Thailand futureBuilding Brighter Futures For Children in Thailand

Deep in the mountains of Thailand, there is the small village of Mankhaw. It is located in the most isolated part of the country. And it is where the Missionary Oblates are working to give children hope for a better future.

“Living in such an isolated environment causes great risk for these young people,” said Fr. Domenico Rodighiero, O.M.I. “The lack of opportunities, the difficulty in discovering their talents and using them fully creates great frustration.”

There are only about 200 Catholics in the village of Mankhaw. The village is so deep in the Thai mountains that it is very difficult to get there, and almost impossible to arrive in the rainy season.

The elementary school is run by the local police department. It has about 60 students, and no certified teacher. For years village residents have been unsuccessful in attracting a single teacher to come live in the small village.

“The level of education, as you can imagine, is minimal,” said Fr. Rodighiero. “But at least the children learn to read and write.”

The Oblates in Mankhaw have made a commitment to provide an education for every child in the village through high school. They are able to send some students to Catholic schools in bigger cities which do not charge the Mankhaw students tuition, only a contribution to cover books and supplies. But it is still an economic burden for most families who earn only $50 to $100 a month.

At the Oblate parish children are provided with regular activities to strengthen their mind, body and soul. The Oblates find much joy in the children’s simplicity and ability to be cheerful and jovial despite their problematic surroundings.

“This Christmas, I would like to give my children the gift of a small library and a music room, a healthy environment where they can be together, have fun and appreciate the beauty of a good book and music,” said Fr. Rodighiero.

The children’s room will be a small oasis in a jungle of difficulties.