I hesitate to write this update because I am afraid people will think I am only doing so to reap a cash inflow like so many of the newsletters I get from other organizations. I made a commitment many years ago to not ask for money or things and have tried not to break it. This is not a request for money, even though to be honest our bank account is very low… but we will survive as we have done in the past.
My reason for writing is to share with you some of the problems we are facing in this post-COVID era. Some may not be aware of the fact that once we sign an agreement to take in a child, that child becomes our responsibility for the rest of their life… unless we can get them reunited with their families, which is always our goal but often not an easy thing to do, especially if a child has special needs. Such is the case with this child who many will recognize if you have been here. When we took him in we were not told that he was epileptic and has a learning deficit as a result that prevents him from being able to attend regular school classes. His epilepsy we were able to control, with medicines costing about $150.00 a month but there was nothing we could do that would keep him in a classroom filled with 60 other children.
A few days ago he slipped on the cement floor in the swimming pool and hit his head, That is nothing unusual for him but he broke open an old wound from a previous fall and there was some bleeding. He felt a bit warm and so I gave him some Tylenol and within minutes he was back to running around. That evening he had two short convulsions but had a good night’s sleep. When I saw him in the morning he reminded me that he didn’t get his meditation incentive the previous evening and so I reached into my pocket to get him his money. As I turned back around to give it to him I saw him convulsing on the ground. Since he had fallen into the sandbox I didn’t attempt to move him and thought it would be over in a minute or two… but several minutes passed and the convulsing continued and so we took him to the emergency room of the children’s hospital run by Dr. Vireck. With an injection, the temperature and convulsing stopped but he couldn’t be awoken. and so he was transferred by ambulance to Phnom Penh where he remains today unresponsive. Hospitals here require a full-time caregiver that we must provide until his release, and the Doctors were not able to say how long that might be.
While considering the possibility of him needing long-term care and a special staff should he return to Wat Opot in the condition he is now, we received another call for six more children from two different families who have recently lost their mother and are in need of long-term placement. Ordinarily, that would not be a big problem, however, one 12-year-old boy is deaf and dumb and has never attended school. If we accept him it would open the door to other children with special needs and the need to hire additional trained staff to work with them.
With dwindling funds, an uncertain future, and a body that is showing its age, I am not sure which direction we should go, your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.
Wayne Dale Matthysse