GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY

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The challenge this weekend was to clean out one of our irrigation ditches. We are in the dry season and the pond was so overgrown that even the ducks couldn’t find a place to cool off.

A big job… but plenty of volunteers to do the work

even though the temperature was in the high nineties.

By late afternoon the whole trench was cleaned and the children could rest.

Sunday morning we pumped out most of the water and began phase two of the operation… catching the fish.

It is a dirty job, but the children love to do it…

especially most of the young ones.

Cleanup, however, is just as much fun and refreshing as the mud baths,

although the fish perhaps would have preferred to stay in the muddy water…

but to the victors belong the spoils.

Thanks for dropping in on us…

The Watopotians

‘TOP-UP’ EDUCATION PROGRAM

AIMS OF THE PROGRAM 
1. To provide additional Tuition to Children of School going age who have either missed out or are not receiving an adequate education through the public school system 
2. With quality teaching staff and disciplined study times, these children will get back into the educational system and have an equal or even better chance at competing for work in the future.
PROJECT BENEFICIARIES
Wat Opot Children’s Community 
Children of school attending age who have never attended school due to their HIV status Orphans who have never had the opportunity to attend school Orphans of HIV parents who had to take care of their parents in the illness thereby having to drop out of school.
Kompong Spue Province:
Oh Prom Provide Education for children of internal migrants – families who are living illegally on land which is gradually being sold for development. Families are consequently forced to move to other locations
For more information about this program contact Patrick Mooney at pcpmooney@yahoo.com

THE WELL KNOWN STRANGER

This story was written several years ago when death was a common occurrence at Wat Opot.

He comes and goes as he pleases and works behind the scenes. Most times we are not even aware of his presence until he is ready to steal another from us. The children may become restless or the dogs bark more than usual in the night… but we choose to ignore these things… for to acknowledge them, is to acknowledge him. Some say he comes for the Souls of three, which of course is superstition, but then more oft than not, that is the way it goes. He came last week and took one by surprise. I think he is still here, I can feel his presence and at times he appears briefly in the corner of my eyes, but when I turn to look he is not there.

Two have taken a turn for the worse and tonight the children are wild. I brace myself for another sleepless night and wonder which one it will be, or maybe both. It is not always obvious and those you think will be taken sometimes get left behind and I wonder if it is just the roll of the dice or is there something to their number being up. 

I don’t think he is a bad guy, just someone doing his job. At times I am even grateful to him for taking some out of their misery… and mine. Not that I want or like to see people die but when they are in the last stages of life they can become rather messy and well… gross would be a better word. Not everyone can die like in the soap operas with clean sheets and satin pillows.                          

Sakon has been dying for the past six months; she’s 38 and has two wonderful kids who have been her primary caregivers all this time. She has large draining abscesses on both of her buttocks, a broken leg bone from a fall a month or so ago, diarrhea, vomiting, and high fevers. Something keeps her going but I am not sure what it is… guess her number isn’t up or perhaps she never learned to play dice. She screams with pain if you touch her and shouts at the kids if they don’t. They often just sit and cry because they don’t know what else to do. Pesei went to get his grandmother yesterday because his mother told him to and because… well he is just so very tired. She hadn’t been here for over 3 months. She stayed in the room all of 20 minutes and then had to go outside. She left early this morning but not before having bitter words with Sakon. Guess they never did have much of a relationship. She said not to bother her for the funeral but to send the kids back home when it was over because she needed them to care for her. Some would call her cruel but she is really only trying to survive. Life can be difficult for old people in a country where there is no Welfare or Social Security and the only source of income is in planting and harvesting rice for the rich, who own the land. 

Chea is the other one waiting to be called, a man of 37 who once had it all but lost it on a gamble when he bought a girl for pleasure and got the losing draw. It took his wife three years ago and now it’s taking him… but slowly and painfully. He suffered a stroke before he came and lost the use of his left side, but he did not lose his dignity. A few weeks back he had another stroke, which left him helpless and incontinent, yet he still wants to get out every day and he tries, he tries so very hard to be dignified… but it’s difficult to do when your sitting in a smelly diaper, saliva dribbling from your mouth. 

I wish for death for nobody but would not be telling the truth if I didn’t add that I long to have a good night sleep and I know that will not come until the children laugh and sing again… and the dogs are silent in the night… and the stranger we know so well, leaves us alone for a time.