Say the words ‘Asylum Seeker’, and you’re likely to get a reaction. Whether it’s provocative disdain, alarmist fear, sympathetic sadness, or perhaps, worst of all, a kind of blank numbness … the label is one that conjures up many things to many people. But the problem, the ‘group’ is so big, the situation so complex, spanning multiple countries, cultures, religions, ages and races, that it’s almost impossible to get your head around what it actually must be like to have that label hanging over you; what it must be like when it’s your story. Today, I’m grateful to say, I had that opportunity.
“Now then, lets get down to brass tacks”.
I’ve arrived at the Good Shepherd Sisters Centre in Din Daeng to meet with Sister Louise, who has kindly squeezed me into her busy schedule. At 80 years of age, Sister Louise is a veritable powerhouse – though you certainly wouldn’t pick it given her gentle handshake and soft Irish lilt.
For almost 50 years, Sister Louise has helped run the Good Shepherd Sisters in Thailand, a charitable christian foundation which primarily assists young women and children in crisis. In Bangkok, all of the four major programs are run on site: A Mother and Baby Home for pregnant girls and new mothers, A Residential Care Program for rural teenagers, a Handicraft Centre employing local women from the area and a Child Care Centre. Recently added to the list is an educational program for some 200 Refugee children.