Archbishop Vincent Nichols, new Patron of the Thai Children's Trust, hosted a fundraising reception in the Throne Room at Archbishop's House, Westminster, last night, Tuesday 18 May, to update friends and encourage new supporters about the vital work the Trust does to help very vulnerable children in Thailand.
During his address, the Archbishop of Westminster praised the Trust and pointed out that it has done much work in recent years in collaboration with Catholic schools across the country.
He said: "Although not formally a Catholic Charity, Thai Children’s Trust works closely with the Catholic Church in Thailand supporting projects which are managed or supported by Catholic Religious Orders. In particular the Redemptorists, the Camillians and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; it also works closely with the Catholic dioceses of Chanthaburi and Nakorn Sawan."
Archbishop Vincent Nichols added: "The Trust is helping children in Catholic schools in the United Kingdom to see Catholic Social Teaching in action. They can experience and share in that work through visiting Thai Children’s Trust projects and by twinning with schools on the Thai Burma border."
Mr Crispian Collins, Chair of Trustees, said that he had supported the Thai Children’s Trust, the largest UK charity focusing on Thailand, in its present form, and in its past existence as Pattaya Orphanage Trust, continuously since 1984.
He said: "Like many of the older supporters here I was inspired by the work of Fr Raymond Brennan, which was so admirably introduced to the UK by Baron Carini, my immediate predecessor as Chairman of the Trust.
He emphasised: "I take a special interest in visiting the projects to see how our charitable funds are being used. I have made three trips to Thailand in the past four years, most recently this year in February.
Mr Collins explained: "The Trust concentrates its help in Thailand in four areas. These are: Children at Risk, Children with Disabilities, Children with HIV and Child Refugees.
"Under ‘Children at Risk’ we group projects which care for children who have been orphaned and abandoned, victims of the Tsunami, street children and victims of trafficking."
"It is the Trust’s policy always to operate through local organisations, not to open projects of our own. This way, we believe, your donation brings a double benefit. We help build local expertise, train local managers and staff whilst still supporting the children who are our main focus. These are the people we go to Thailand to meet."
Sophie Leventis, who with her husband Nick, visited the Burma border last year painted a graphic picture of some of the things they had seen.
She said: "We met children who had endured the most dreadful hardships. These included one girl whose mother had been blown up by a landmine and her father shot by the Burmese army.
"We met two boys who had been used as human minesweepers, forced to walk in front of troops so if there was a mine they would be killed not the soldiers. But the most awesome thing was the scale of the problem.
"They made us so welcome, singing and dancing for us but as a mother what touched my heart was the thought that these children were hungry. So hungry that some of them had stopped growing, physically or mentally. And the thought of the terrible danger they would be in if they were sent back to Burma."
Sophie stressed: "We came back resolved to raise funds to help the children on the Burma border, the children the world seems to have forgotten but which Thai Children’s Trust does its best to help."
Andrew Scadding, CEO of the Thai Children’s Trust spoke movingly and challengingly about the work of the Trust which today funds 21 projects run by seven partner organisations in areas of greatest need in Thailand.
Afterwards he added: "Archbishop Nichols did a fantastic job for us as Patron, staying beyond the scheduled end of the reception, talking to supporters and staff, and giving us all the feeling that the work we do is really valued by him. This is wonderfully encouraging."
For further information on the Thai Children's Trust see: www.thaichildrenstrust.org.uk
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