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Good Shepherd Sisters IRELAND

A person is of more value than a world

30 years of mission in Nongkhai Thailand  #2

Our work in remote villages, took us 150 kms up river from Nongkhai to a Catholic village. It was here that Sr Pranee  was initiated into the Isan way of life, spending 4 days and nights a week in the village, often joined by Sr Joan. In March 1982, the villagers constructed a bamboo building for training local women and our first skills training, income generation project began.

Since that time, weaving was encouraged in the 10 villages we worked  in. With the help of Khun Suven

and his wife Thong, we began to produce and market handicrafts. In 1984, the Regina Women’s

Self Help Centre was opened in Nongkhai, followed by three  Women’s Self Help Centres in different

villages. As a result  1,613 women have been trained and subsequently employed in  sewing centres

over the years.

The fruit of that early work  over the years has been– food and milk programmes, village outreach,

hospital visits and specialist visits supporting those living with HIV/Aids. In the past ten years many

people have received regular assistance from the Outreach Team, who visit the surrounding villages

rgularly with medical care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and other needs. An average of

250  participate in the programme annually.

Other craft production projects were begun - Isan Pottery and Hands of Hope. A further 608 women and

men and youth have been provided training and employment through these projects.

In 1983 Child Care Centres were established in two villages. This number soon grew to six and early

education was provided for hundreds of children per year until the early 90’s, when the Government began pre-schools in the area. A simultaneous lunch programme restored the children to good health and taught good nutritional practices   to the mothers.                                                                                                                                           

After the Day Care Centres were closed, sponsorship of the children continued with 500- 800 children being assisted every year since. In the past 10 years, there have been 393 graduations from High School, Vocational Training or University and out of a current 620 sponsored children this year, 200 are in higher education.

Being a rural mission, we were committed to helping families remain on their land. The lack of water for 6 months a year, needed  early intervention in digging wells, ponds and installing irrigation systems. Funding partners supported such major works and the local people provided the labour.

To address the needs of farming communities further, an agricultural project was begun. -  Cow Banks were established in the villages, training in animal husbandry and horticulture has been provided for 5440 farmers from 42 villages, with further project implementation and follow-up micro-credit support...

The Good Shepherd Sisters’ community in Nongkhai has seen the arrival and farewell of numerous sisters, working for a time in ministries before moving to serve the needs in other parts of Thailand or in other countries from where they came as missionaries. Each played an integral part in the development of the projects; each gave witness to the charism of Jesus the Good Shepherd.                                                                                        

In 2002 Sr Margaret returned to God and in 2009 Sr Mercy was welcomed to Heaven.

Alone , the Sisters could not have carried out God’s mission to the poor so  we  thank especially -  our Good Shepherd Collaborators, our Good Shepherd Family. The compassion, commitment, loyalty and long years of service of our Staff is second to none.

The Good Shepherd mission has been carried by  all, who have worked zealously  amongst the poor.

Also, without our friends, benefactors, buyers and sellers of our craft, sponsors and funding partners, around the world, we could not have responded to the needs in the tangible way we have and to you all great gratitude is due.

Recalling our past Sr Margaret-  founding member of the Nongkhai Community would often say  “As we look back to our beginnings (in 1981 )  our hearts are filled with gratitude for God’s many graces. God guided us in many ways to this part of Thailand and generously supplied the spiritual and material means to establish here the works of Good Shepherd.”

In the words of our Mother Foundress, St Mary Euphrasia – “ Gratitude is the memory of the heart”. Today our hearts are full of memories and of overflowing gratitude for the past 30 years.