Monday, May 13, 2013

Remembering Khun Bill

On May 8th I went to visit the Mercy Centre located in the slums of Khlong Toey with some of the pictures I had taken of Khun Bill with some of the HIV and AIDs children and parents. He had died of ALS in December and I thought that those who had known him would enjoy seeing these pictures and reading his obituary as well.
I first met Dr. William Haggerty in 2002, on a Wilderness Travel Tour to SE Asia with Max Holland, who was my Tour Director on my first Asia trip in 2000. This trip was to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Bill was one of the other ten travelers, and more adventurous than the others.

Here is a picture of our group in Vietnam posing with the monk who maintained the bonsai gardens at the Pagoda near Hue. Bill is on the far left wearing his camera vest chuck full of accessories.
During these travels, he would not be content to rest after touring about for the day, but seek out the local markets, bars and restaurants not visited by tour groups always with his camera.
For example, in Hue, he talked three of us in going to a snake restaurant. We traveled there by bicycle rickshaws, and played with our food before eating the large black cobra we had selected for dinner accompanied by cobra blood whiskey.

He also patiently showed me how to improve my photography through framing, composition, and light.

When I got to the Mercy Centre, the children were all down for their nap time and the staff had just finished lunch. Father Joe, who runs the place, was traveling, but most of the staff knew Khun Bill and delighted in the pictures I shared with them. One woman pointed to the classroom and said that each year Khun Bill would bring in a supply of toothbrushes, paste, and floss and put on a class on how to properly brush your teeth.

Another person indicated that the birthday party pictures I brought was the first time that either the little boy and his mother had ever had a birthday celebration in their honor. Both are HIV positive.

For more about the work of the Mercy Centre, here is their website:
This is the first time in my visit to SE Asia I will not be visiting with Khun Bill and having lunches along the street stall food places with me drinking a cool Singha and Khun Bill sipping his colas. I will miss hearing about where he has been and where he planned to go next. His photography website is still up. There are some of the pictures he took of Khlong Toey, the people and slums that surround Mercy Centre as well as some other incredible photos.

I miss you and will remember you fondly Khun Bill.

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