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Thailand nuns bring aid to landfill scavengers

The Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in Lopburi offer food, basic supplies and education

Thailand nuns bring aid to landfill scavengers

Missionary sisters are providing scavengers on a Lopburi garbage dump with much-needed help.

Antonio Anup Gonsalves for Catholic News Agency, Nakhon Ratchasima

March 19, 2014

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A group of missionary sisters is bringing humanitarian assistance to the scavengers who live in the rubbish dump of the Thai city of Lopburi.

“We bring to them the necessary, basic items of life and spend some time teaching them, sharing their struggles and encouraging their shattered hopes,” Sister Mary Clare Thong In, superior of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in Lopburi, told CNA earlier this month.

Lopburi is a city of more than 26,000, located 80 miles southeast of Nakhon Sawan, and the Paulist sisters there have begun reaching out to those on the periphery of the city.

“St. Paul instructed Christians to serve and embrace all people, irrespective of class, race and religion, in his First Letter to the Corinthians,” Sister Mary Clare reflected.

“‘All things to all people’ has been our guiding, inspirational motto from our patron, St. Paul,” she continued. The Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres were founded in France in 1696 by Father Louis Chauvet to care for the sick and the poor. They are now spread out in 35 countries, serving apostolates of health care, education and evangelization

Sister Mary Clare described how some of the city’s residents have become scavengers in the landfill, living in unhygienic and hazardous conditions on the decaying materials, with birds and animals of prey as their neighbors.

They sustain their livelihood by scavenging in the sea of rubbish, even making their temporary shelter with a patched tent that flutters in the breeze, unprotected during rains.

It’s “overwhelming” to see their bright, happy, smiling faces in the midst of their strife-ridden and difficult lives, Sister Mary Clare said.

“The site is scary, with devouring birds and pack of animals, while the stench is so awful that even when one comes home and takes a shower, the illusion of the smell lingers for hours,” Father Alessandro Chamnan Klahan, rector of St. Paul Seminary in Korat, told CNA.

“The SPC sisters’ commendable commitment, missionary zeal and courage to stand against all odds makes a world of difference for a better world.”

Full story: Thai nuns share ray of hope among landfill scavengers

Source: Catholic News Agency

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