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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