“We work with the poorest of the poor,” says Cesca Tompkins who runs the Mercy Center – Pattaya with her husband Kevin.
The Mercy Center was started in the year 2000 by Fred and Dianne Doell, who also founded the Victory International Church. Fred and Dianne saw people in need in the slums of Pattaya and started to bring them food and life essentials. This was the beginning of the Chumchon Project (“Chumchon” means “slum”).
Then, Cesca explained, Fred and Dianne saw children who were abused, neglected and abandoned. They started to take people in, and soon realised that they needed to establish a home for these kids.
PCEC member Dave Anderson advises fellow members of the St Patrick’s Day activities, including a St Pat’s Parade, arranged for the 17th of March.
Money was saved; money was raised; a house was rented; the years went by; and the home moved a few times. Eventually, land was bought for a permanent home and construction started. The children moved into the new home, which is called Baan Khong Por, one and a half years ago. The home is across the street from the school the children attend, which means that they can participate in after-school activities. The Mercy Centre is licensed to look after 50 children. It has 28 now (nine girls and 19 boys) and does not have the staff to grow at the moment. But growth is a long-term goal.
The children are not orphans; they are simply not able to stay with their families (for reasons that vary, but often have to do with lack of money). The Mercy Center serves as their foster parents. “The children are in our custody at the state’s good graces,” Cesca explained. It is government social services that decides who gets placed in the home, and there is a government social worker full-time at the home. Cesca mentioned one little girl at the home, 10 or 11 years old, who had lived all her life in one room with her father and who had never been to school. “We realised that we needed to get her socialised first,” Cesca said, “and then bring her up to speed so that she could attend school.” The Mercy Center has an early learning centre that provides pre-school training, Cesca explained.
Cesca said that donations from members of the Pattaya City Expats Club enabled the Center to purchase new school uniforms for the children in the Baan Khong Por home. In addition to the home and the Chumchon initiative, the Mercy Center has other projects. For example, it is currently serving 50 families in a work site. The types of assistance provided by the Center include helping people obtain pensions and medical care that they have not accessed because they did not know how to complete the paper work; donating money to rebuild a well damaged by road construction; offering emergency first aid; and providing pre-natal counselling.
Hawaii Bob updates all on the activities of the ‘Frugal Freddy’ group, dining at some of Pattaya’s better value but good food restaurants, usually with a good discount.
The Mercy Center also runs a scholarship programme for 250 children (with help from the Pattaya Street Kids organisation). The programme covers the costs of going to school which amounts to about $150 a year (for things like insurance and uniforms). “Some of what we do needs money,” Cesca said, “and some does not. A little tender loving care goes a long way.”
More and more, the Mercy Centre sees children who are the victims of human trafficking. There is a stream of kids coming from Cambodia to Thailand. There are lots of very small organisations out there working on this issue. Cesca revealed, “Our goal is to enable these groups to network.” The Mercy Center is starting a micro-enterprise project where it tries to help poor families establish small businesses.
Cesca said that PCEC members are welcome to visit the home and to accompany Mercy Center volunteers on the weekly Chumchon trips (which happen every Thursday morning). In answering questions, Cesca and her husband Kevin explained that although the Mercy Center was founded by Christians, it has no religious agenda, and it does not indoctrinate the children into Christianity. Kevin and Cesca came to Thailand about four years ago when Kevin took a job opening a division of Powerwave Technologies in Laem Chabang. For more information on the Mercy Centre – Pattaya, visit their website: http://mercypattaya.com/.
Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg provided an update on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand; Pattaya in particular.
PCEC’s speaker for the 3rd of March was Cesca Tompkins – she and husband Kevin run the Mercy Centre, dedicated to caring for Pattaya’s less fortunate children, who may not be orphans but for one reason or other are not receiving care and nutrition. The Mercy Centre was established in the year 2000 by Fred and Dianne Doell, who saw people in need in the slums of Pattaya and started to bring them food and life essentials.
Club Treasurer Judith Edmonds presents Cesca with a Certificate of Appreciation for her and husband Kevin’s inspiring presentation on the fine work of the Mercy Centre.