Our mother pig gave birth to 10 piglets a few days ago. One of them didn’t live very long but the rest are doing good. Hopefully, we can get the remaining 9 piglets to 80 or 90 Kilos in a few months by eating kitchen scrapes and rice husk.

Our staff are very knowledgeable about animal husbandry and know just what to do. Mr. Pheap even slept several nights just outside their pen to make sure the piglets were safe. We also have a pregnant cow but it will be a while before she is ready to deliver.

Two of the three other pigs on our campus have reached 80 Kilos and although we were planning to wait on selling them until Khmer New Year in a few weeks’ time, we were offered a good price ($1.75 per Kilo) and decided to sell them now because we needed the money to buy rice for our children.

In the background, you can see our chickens. They will be in big demand in a few weeks’ time and should bring in a good amount of funds if we can sell them all. Our children are involved in every activity on our campus and are especially helpful when it comes to keeping the buyer honest.

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Many of our children enjoy cooking and on any given evening you may find them in one of the kitchens making “legal” treats for themself or a small group. Some nights, however, I find them building a fire behind one of the buildings to barbeque something “illegal”, such as fish, birds, or frogs that they have collected during the day.

Chay learning how to make french toast several years ago.

I don’t discourage it but do caution them to be safe, especially if smaller children are around. I have always taught the boys that they should learn to cook for themself so that they don’t become dependent on a woman to feed them. Marriage for love is fine but not because you need someone to take care of you.

Both Tori and Chay graduated from high school in December and decided to take cooking classes at the FRIENDS NGO instead of enrolling in college classes. They have already finished the course under the supervision of Mr. Rong, who is also a former Watopotian who teaches there.

Both are now interning at one of Phnom Penh’s finest 5 Star hotels and if they do well could get permanent employment there.

We wish them well as they start out their new life outside of Wat Opot. I would love to go and eat at some of the places where our alumni work… but even if the establishment let me in the door, I wouldn’t be able to afford a meal there.

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The kids love eating outside and often will barbeque something they have captured during the day… usually catfish but sometimes frog, rice rat, or snake, in the evening. We had an old fire hole but it was usually full of trash and not a pleasant place to eat and so we decided to use some of the tile left over from our front sidewalk to make a barbeque pit. Yesterday was a holiday and so we caught some catfish and bought some meat and rice and had our evening meal at the new site.

The grills worked out much better than I expected and were much safer than the old fire pit.

Catfish is not my favorite meal but when it is grilled like this it really is not too bad.

Now that we know it works, we will be doing it more often… and I am sure the kids will be using it as well.

And what better way to end a Holiday Barbeque than to take a dip in the pool?

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We have just finished repainting the crematorium and today were working on the Memorial Garden area, trying to get it back in shape for the upcoming Holiday when many families will visit the Buddhist Temple next door. Often families will also stop by to pay their respects to family members who were cremated here during the AIDS epidemic several years ago…or were cremated here during the COVID pandemic. We still have a lot of work to do but had to halt our work this afternoon because of call from the local police requesting the use of our crematorium for another victim of suicide.

Wat Opot was one of only a few NGOs that provided free hospice services to Cambodians during the AIDS era and the only one to my knowledge that provided free cremation services for the hundreds who died in it’s care. It was also one of the main crematoriums used during the COVID crisis because others feared catching the Virus, and while there was pleanty of Government funds available for the nearly 200 cremations performed… we asked only for $100.00 to cover our cost. We did what few others were willing to do out of respect for the victims. Much of the money we made has gone into the the making of and upkeep of the Memorial.

We are also known for our willingness to cremate the victims of suicide. Families often have a hard time finding someone to perform the cremation because of a fear, not of the body, but of the tormented Spirit that may linger long after the cremation… and so it is the fires are once again lit and I have just returned from checking on their progress.

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