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.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are interested in helping us raise the 35 children we still have with us please, please visit our CONTACT PAGE.



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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We started a project of afternoon classes for community children several months ago during the COVID era when our resident population was only 23. There was considerable interest in the community because, during that time, no classes were taught at the local schools. Once the COVID restrictions were lifted and the public school reopened, we thought the interest in attending courses at Wat Opot would dwindle… but instead, they increased. The lifting of restrictions also allowed Social Services to start their community work again and we have since added 10 new residents. This increase has forced us to hire new staff as teachers and caregivers. When Mr. Dara returned to take over the management of our community he suggested starting a daycare center in the mornings while our children attended public school. We would charge $10.00 a month, as we already were doing with the community students, and if we got enough toddlers it would help cover at least some of the cost for the new staff. Today we have 13 children enrolled and are hoping to get a few more.


The afternoon classes are also going well with over 40 community children joining our residents every afternoon for classes in Khmer, Math, and English…

and there is also an English class taught by a teacher who has lived in Cambodia for over 25 years and still only speaks English and whose main emphasis is getting the students to stick their tongues out whenever they see a word that has a “TH” in it.

The lessons are simple, usually something I come up with just before class. The object is for them to write the words and say them even if they don’t really understand the meaning, which much of the time there is not.

Thanks for stopping in. If anyone would like to support us in this new endeavor so that maybe we can afford a real English teacher, follow the links on the CONTACT PAGE.



Mornings use to be a time of quiet with most of the children in school, however, with the opening of our preschool program, our campus is now active all day long. There are now 11 children enrolled in the morning program and one who stays the whole day.

They are an active group and seem to really enjoy their time here. Income from their $10.00 a month tuition helps to cover some of the cost for the four new staff we have had to hire.

In addition to the 11 energetic young students on our campus, we were also called on to take in one of our grandchildren, who, with support, had been under the care of her grandmother. While I was in town at a Doctors appointment we got a call that the grandmother had been taken to the hospital and she took the baby with her because she had no one that could look after her. With no other immediate option available to us, we drove to the hospital on our way home and picked up Srey Leap.

She didn’t like the ride home that much, mostly because of all of the lights and traffic stops and not being around people she recognized… especially one with a beard.

But that all changed once she got to Wat Opot and was surrounded by a Community of brothers and sisters who smothered her with affection.

We are not sure how long she will remain with us, that will depend on the grandmother’s ability to care for her after she is released from the hospital… but for now, she is a welcomed addition to our Community.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are interested in being one of our supporters please visit our CONTACT PAGE.



The process of transferring guardianship of a child can in some places be a long and costly battle involving courts, lawyers, social service workers, and guardians… however, in Cambodia, the process takes only a few hours. Once it is decided by a joint meeting of social services, village leaders, police, and the parent or guardian of a child, that it is in the best interest of the child to be removed from a vulnerable environment and placed into the care of a licensed facility, like The Wat Opot Community, the thumbprint is all that is required. We have added nine new children to our community in the past two months.

The Guardian is first to place their thumbprint onto the document and the children are fully aware of what is happening…

and one can only imagine what is going through the child’s mind during this process.

Fortunately, we have at times, volunteers like Kate Bernoske, who can make the transition from living on the streets to living in a controlled environment just a little easier.

Once the paperwork is finished the only thing left to do, is for the child to add his own thumbprint to the document to make the transfer legal and binding.

Climbing into a stranger’s car to be taken to an unknown destiny by people you do not know, can be a bit daunting…

But within hours they are surrounded by other children just like themselves, who are happy to show them around and introduce them to the many opportunities and activities available at Wat Opot.

Opportunities that very few other children in Cambodia get to experience.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are interested in being one of our supporters please visit our CONTACT PAGE.



We have talked about it for a while but this week we finally put the program together and opened, what we hope will be a permanent program at Wat Opot. Last week we gave all of our afternoon students a brochure to pass out to their neighbors to introduce the program to our community.

By New Year’s weekend, we had six students registered. The cost is $20.00 a month, which helps to cover some of the wages of the new staff we had to hire, but we make exceptions when necessary. The purpose of the program is not only to give the children a head start in school but also to allow parents the opportunity to work.

The first day didn’t go so well. Most of the children had never been left alone with strangers before and there was a lot of crying… especially when I entered the room.

Today things went much better thanks to the purchase of bicycles and toys for the playground by our Four Volunteers from Germany. Two more toddlers were added today and Mr. Dara would like to eventually increase the number to 20, which I don’t think will be all that difficult… keeping it at 20 will likely be a greater problem.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are interested in being one of our supporters please visit our CONTACT PAGE.



The funeral services for Ms. Heng Nheng, a former staff member who left us just a few weeks ago because of health problems, is presently going on just outside of our gates.

She died at the Takeo hospital yesterday and leaves behind one daughter.

She will always be remembered as Om (Aunt) Nheng to all of our children.

Our condolences to her daughter and her extended family.



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.



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.


The Watopotians