Before our crematorium was built, some 20 years ago, we use to dig holes in the ground, fill it with wood, place the bodies of our deceased AIDS patients on top of the wood, and light it on fire. It took hours to burn and at times a thunderstorm would pass through and fill the hole with water. Let’s just say that it was not a pleasant job, without going into detail.

Most people now are not aware of this time in our history, and the area became overgrown with brush, which always saddened me because to me this place had special meaning.

As the years passed by, we did add some dirt and tried to grow a garden there, but long beans were about all we could grow… not my favorite vegetable and certainly not what anyone would consider a memorial of any significance. 

Money was always a problem because I was about the only one who saw any benefit to memorializing the area… that is until people started dying from COVID-19. Our crematorium was the only usable one available in the area and so they started to bring us the dead… sometimes three or four and even five a day.

With nearly every funeral came family members who waited for three to five hours for the bodies to be burned. In appreciation for our services the hospitals and family members gave donations and with some of that money we started fixing up the place around the crematorium. We first added a seat in the shade for the families and Monks to wait.

Next was a sidewalk to the area where the bones and ashes are taken out of the burner, because that area gets quite muddy during the rainy season. 

And since we had the cement and brick, we decided to build a Lotus pond, in the place where the beans were growing, as a fitting memorial… but what Lotus pond is complete without a Buddha, and where would we find a Cheap Buddha? 

Unbeknown to me, there is a monk not far from us who makes hundreds of solid cement Buddhas in all sizes, and was very happy to give us a great deal on one.

Moving it was a problem, however, since it weighs several hundred pounds… but working together we finally got it into place. Only then did they tell me that the Buddha needed to be covered.

And so here we are today… work still needs to be done on the gardens and painting but I am very happy that the once forgotten piece of land is finally being used as a memorial to both the AIDS victims and those who are dying from COVID-19. Today we had two more cremations which brings the total to 128 since May of this year, and there is no end in sight.

Thanks for stopping in!

The Partners

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