DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Christmas Day at Wat Opot was uneventful. We put up a fence to keep the chickens out of the newly planted long beans and cucumbers in our garden…

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and worked to get the place neat and tidy in the event Santa would pay us a visit at some point during the day.

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And in the evening, as the Sun slowly settled in the West we had a simple family meditation and gave Thanks that most of the children had returned from home leave. We played some dance music…

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and I made the announcement that we would have visitors in the morning, but wasn’t sure how many people would be coming. I only knew they had given us some money to buy meat for a barbecue. Then I dismissed them with a snack.

The following morning a car dropped off a large speaker system and electric piano. I had no idea what they were planning, I only knew that Mr. Phoun Chaim, the District Governor had given some money and would possibly be making a visit. I wasn’t told that most of the district heads of government would be joining him.

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The Christmas dinner was prepared by our staff and the wife of Dr. Virak… and what a meal it was.

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Barbecued beef, bread, noodles, curry stew, and of course all the rice we could eat.

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And to top it all off we had our own dance band to entertain us after the meal.

Thanks to all who made this possible, especially Governor Phoun Chaim and Mrs. Rathanak Romchong for their cash donations, Dr. Virak, and his wife for the food, and Mr. Channa Nov for making all of the arrangements.

THE WATOPOTIANS

PLANTING TIME

After waiting for several weeks for the rains to stop and for the fields to dry out enough for the tractor to plow them, we are now back in business.

It only took him an hour to get both fields done, saving us many days of hard work.

And today we were able to plant the long beans… something that is very productive and provides not only for our needs but can also be sold to the community as well.

Seedlings had already been planted in our raised garden awaiting the time they could be transplanted into the big garden.

And the children wasted no time in doing so.

Of course, planting the seedlings is only part of the job, adding fresh cowpost to the soil is also important… but not nearly as pleasant of a job.

We are especially grateful to May Chan and her husband Dinesh Shamdasani for their generous donation to our program, which made this possible… and we are grateful to all who have contributed with your prayers, good wishes, and financial support, which helps keep our community going.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

The Watopotians

A TRIP TO THE ZOO

With many of our children home for the school break, we decided to take the ones who had no home to go to, for a short trip to the local zoo.

The zoo covers a large area and requires a great deal of walking. Unfortunately, there have been some problems with developers in the area who want to put up condominiums… many trees along the way to the zoo have been cut down and although they have not reached to zoo area yet, many of the larger animals are gone. No one is sure what will happen next.

There is still plenty of monkeys and smaller animals to see but the park is not very well taken care of and was actually a disappointing day for some of the children who wanted to see lions, tigers, and other big animals. There are still a couple of elephants but they did not put on a performance like the last time we were there.

Still, most of the children enjoyed the experience and were happy to get away from Wat Opot for a few hours. They also knew that the best part was yet to come.

Thanks for checking us out and a special Thanks to our supporters who made this possible.

The Watopotians

OUR NEWEST GRANDDAUGHTER

I am not always happy with the choices our children make for themselves but then, I suppose I disappointed my parents as well with the seemingly bad choices I made in my youth… well I made some in my middle ages as well, okay I still make them, but it is those choices, however, no matter how bad they were, that made me what I am today… and I am happy with who I have become. Many times bad choices end in good results and I would like to share just one with you today.

This is our newest granddaughter Meng Ly born just two months ago… the beautiful results of what I thought was a bad decision by the mother… not the first time I have been wrong.

Perhaps one of the greatest joys I have is to see Watopotians making it on their own and starting their own families.

And the second greatest joy is to see how the Wat Opot family supports each other.

Thanks for stopping in and if you want to continue to follow us please consider adding your name to the mailing list as I am thinking of pulling out of Facebook and social media and concentrating only on my websites.

The Watopotians

OUR NEW LIBRARY AND COMPUTER ROOM

We have much to be grateful for as we will soon begin our new school year in January. Most of the supplies we will need for our students have already been donated and now with our new library and computer classroom, we will be able to expand our community education as well.

The shelves look empty in these pictures but thanks to the many people listed below they will soon be filled with all kinds of reading and reference books.

Many of the books have already been delivered. More will be purchased once we categorize these and the books we already had in our library but are waiting to be filed in the bookcases… the snacks, of course, will not make it to the shelves.

Once completed, our library will be accessible to all persons living in the community… a continuation of our desire to educate and advance the people living around us.

We are so very grateful to the people listed below for their generosity in contributing to this project:

  1. Mrs. Mak Veasna $100.00
  2. Mrs. Buoy Navamalika $100.00
  3. Mrs. Ren Chanthach $100.00 plus packages of writing books with 5000 Riel for each of our students.
  4. Mrs. Yean Somany $100.00
  5. Mr. Kim Arun $50.00
  6. The remaining balance was provided by Mr.Peng Songlim and Mr. Chhim Tepwinuth

The total cost of the project so far has been $1310.00 plus $315.35 for the books.

Thanks for stopping in!

The Watopotians

DEATH OF A MONK

It was late evening and I had already undressed for bed and was just about ready to settle in with a cup of coffee while I watched the latest news, when the phone rang. A young Monk from another Pagoda had committed suicide and the police were asking if we could do the cremation. Our last cremation was just a little over a month ago for one of our own and because of sickness I had not been back to the crematorium since then, but we always keep it ready for just such an occasion. I told them we would do it and got dressed again and called the team. We cleaned the area the best we could in the dark and then sat down for what would be a two-hour wait for the body to arrive.

Because the family lived some distance away it was decided to wait until the following day to do the cremation. The body of the young monk was placed in a casket and several of the monks stood vigil throughout the night.

The cremation was done shortly after the noon hour with several monks and family members in attendance.

Like AIDS and COVID, suicide is considered taboo in Cambodia by most of those who perform cremations, and that is why they bring them to us. I have in my lifetime known and counseled far too many people, both young and old, who have taken their own life… and the question always is WHY? For that reason, I can sympathize with both the victim and the family and try my best to make the process of cremation a positive one.

Suicide is a major problem in our world today. The increased access to social media, rap music, and negative world news bombards us daily with disillusionment and feelings of despondency. The use of smart telephones increases our ability to communicate with others in our altered personality but decreases the time we share our real selves on a personal level. I see no solution to this problem except for what we do as individuals. If you are despondent or lonely, seek help from others, don’t wait until your emotions control you. Take a walk in the sunshine and leave your phone behind… and if you are concerned for a loved one, who you see showing signs of depression, try to communicate your concern with them, and be honest. Physical contact is a basic human need… hug anyone and everyone whenever given the opportunity. Not only could you save a Life… but you will be doing yourself a favor as well.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

OLD NEIGHBORS

It is always nice to be visited by old neighbors who stop in to see how we are doing. Mom Vanny once lived in our area and remembered us as an AIDS hospice. She and her family and friends raised the money to buy school material for our children, as well as laundry soap and dental hygiene supplies .

Besides the cash and supplies they brought delicious snacks for the children…

which they had no problem devouring on the spot.

Many of our children are on home leave for the first time in two years and so thay missed out on this occassion. We are left with those who have no place to go, and that is why occassion like this are especially meaningful.

Thanks for stopping in and if you want to continue to follow us please consider adding your name to the mailing list as I am thinking of pulling out of Facebook and social media and concentrating only on my websites.

The WATOPOTIANS

FREE TO CONGREGATE

It has been a long time passing that we were able to leave our community and meet with others in large groups but finally, the COVID restrictions are lifted and we can go out again. A few days ago our children were invited to a birthday party in the community at the home of Dara and Phari Chhoeun for their daughter Lycheang.

The kids had a good time at the party and were (surprisingly) well-behaved on one of their first times out.

The food was delicious and our children ate their fill.

Then yesterday the Red Cross put on a program for the HIV+ population and several of our older children were invited to attend.

Here they received positive news about the future treatment of HIV and a possible cure. Not sure if it was meant as an incentive to keep taking their medicine or if there really is a breakthrough that I don’t know about.

During his speech, the Governor of Takeo, Ouch Phea, praised the Wat Opot group for the work we did during the COVID epidemic. Nearly 200 victims were cremated in our crematorium because no other place wanted to run the risk of getting COVID.

And while the older children attended the Red Cross meeting with Mr. Somoeun, the younger children were given the opportunity to climb Chisol Mountain with Mr. Dara and the four new volunteers K├Ąthe, Jenny, Salome, and Johanna.

If elephants were available to take me up there, I would have gone along… but not quite recovered enough to give it a try.

Many of our 33 children are on home leave until January… the first time in two years that we could allow them to go because of COVID restrictions. This means the children who have nowhere to go can be given special attention for the next few weeks… maybe a trip to the animal sanctuary.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all who support us. If you are interested in helping us out please go to our CONTACT PAGE.

THE WATOPOTIANS