Burmese refugees take care of a little Thai girl abandoned by everyone
by Adriano Pelosin *

Fr Adriano Pelosin tells the story of Joseph, Anna and their daughter Mary. Forced to flee Myanmar after last year’s coup, the family had nowhere to go until they were welcomed at the PIME missionary’s parish. Now the couple “are preparing to receive baptism,” and “have accepted to raise Bang Eung,” a Thai girl abandoned by her drug-addicted mother. In his Christmas greetings, the clergyman wishes “everyone will have the peace of those who recognise themselves in the poor”.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The poor are the ones who show us the truest meaning of Christmas. Fr Adriano Pelosin, PIME missionary, pastor at Sr Mark’s parish on the outskirts of Bangkok, and superior of the Thai Missionary Institute, wrote in his Christmas letter about the story of a family of Burmese refugees who fled the repression in their country only to find a new life with a little Thai girl no one wanted.

“Bang Eung” means "By chance". Bang Eung is a very lively and chatty three-year-old girl. She often scratches her head because it is full of fleas, jumps from chair to chair like a monkey and then returns to her great-grandmother, who has a heart condition.

Bang Eung’s mother abandoned her at birth, while her father is in prison for drug dealing. The mother is also a drug addict and went on the run to avoid being caught by police. The great-grandmother asked us to take in her great-granddaughter because she says if she dies no one will take care of Bang Eung.

About thirty years ago, the same great-grandmother came to me with An a 14-year-old grandson who had never gone to school or did not even speak. His parents had abandoned him as a child and were in prison for drug dealing. Three years ago the same great-grandmother asked me if I could take care of a one-year-old great-grandson, New. New is Bang Eung’s brother; they have the same mother, but a different father.

When we, at the parish, took in Bang Eung, we wondered who could take care of the child. At that point, Bang Eung’s life got mixed up with that of Joseph, Anna, and Mary (not their real names). One evening about two months ago, Joseph phoned me asking if I could accommodate him, his wife Anna, and their five-year-old daughter Mary. They are from Myanmar, which they fled because they were wanted by the military who seized power about two years ago and persecutes anti-government protesters. Joseph was one of the protest leaders.

When they arrived, the little girl, Mary, was still terrified. She did not, eat, sleep or go to the bathroom for many days. I told Joseph to take a taxi and come to the parish, I would pay for the ride. With Joseph's family came a young Burmese couple. They bathed, ate and rested, after many sleepless nights in fear.

The next morning all the Burmese prostrated themselves at my feet, and Joseph said, "I believe in God," "I believe in God, because, even though I was a Buddhist, last night I prayed to the God that my father worships, Jesus, and asked Him to help me. Someone gave me your phone number and now I know that God is there."

After two days I rented two rooms and brought everything needed to accommodate the two families. Later the other couple went to work at a construction site. Joseph and Anna showed such goodness, intelligence and availability that we made them our collaborators and Mary goes to the Mary Help of Christians school and is doing fine. Now this couple, who come to church every day and are preparing to receive baptism, have accepted to raise Bang Eung.

Let me conclude by asking you all to pray for us who are always tempted to escape the pain and suffering connected with our work. On the occasion of Holy Christmas, which is approaching, I hope that everyone will have the peace of those who recognise themselves in the poor and the disabled, like the people who a few weeks ago celebrated the feast of the poor with us at St Mark’s parish. There was great peace and an intimate joy that left everyone amazed. The Lord has done all this.

* Missionary in Bangkok