PIZZA SUNDAY

Kate is back so let’s make some pizza!

Some of the high school students along with Veasna (our 5* restaurant chef) started rolling out the dough…

While others made the sauce and cut the vegetables.

Others added the toppings and put them in the oven.

Of course, there had to be a taste tester to ensure that the end product was suitable for the children.

I gave my seal of approval and the party began.

Everyone agreed with my findings…

Including our youngest.

Sorry, you missed the party but I am sure there will be another one so make your reservations to join us.

If you are not one of our supporters but would like more information on how to become one please visit our CONTACT PAGE or go directly to the Wat Opot support website: https://www.watopot.org/en/donate

THE WATOPOTIANS

OCTOBER ACTIVITIES

Every weekday we hold extracurricular classes in Math, Khmer, and English for all the kids at Wat Opot and in the wider community to help them get a leg up in their academic journey.

With nearly a hundred children attending regularly, our awards ceremony yesterday was a pretty big deal for both the kids receiving awards and their teachers and classmates who cheered them on.

Congratulations to all, we’re so proud of you!

We also had to bid farewell to Janina, a long-time supporter and representative from St. Ursula Gymnasium Dorsten, who joined us this week to learn more about our programs and delve into the many stories that Wat Opot has to tell.

In her short time with us, she showed us some new exercises for our weekly Yoga sessions.

Janina, it was an absolute pleasure to have you here – for the kids especially!

We hope to stay connected with you through the future! Your support is so important to us – thank you!

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us… before I go, however, I need to share this photo of a Wat Opot Sunset from Scott Rotzoll, another of our Volunteers / Photojournalist.

If you are not one of our supporters but would like more information on how to become one please visit our CONTACT PAGE or go directly to the Wat Opot support website: https://www.watopot.org/en/donate

THE WATOPOTIANS

HOW ABOUT SOME GOOD NEWS

The Wat’s LOUD SPEAKERS have gone silent and the festival celebrants have all gone home, following the three-day Pchum Ben Festival here in Cambodia. The reprieve from the noise was short-lived, however, as the children, who were on home leave, started to come back the next day and the community preschool children once again came for their classes in the mornings.

We have had a lot of rain here and if I were to complain about anything I would tell you about our flooding woes… but compared to much of the rest of Cambodia, most of our buildings are still dry, and the only hardships we suffer are wet feet.

In the afternoons, the older community children descend on our campus for study and unsupervised sports activities, volleyball being the predominant choice for the boys, however, there are a few “Tomboys” (if that term is still appropriate) who are just as good if not better than many of the boys.

Another activity is playing the “shoe game” which involves kicking one of your flip-flops against a wall or someone else’s flip-flop until you knock over the prize (usually a pile of small trading cards when I am watching, or money when I am not watching. I really do not understand the game and to be quite honest I believe that there are Flip-flop secret agents who go around to all of the communities, teaching the children this game because it ruins at least one of their flipflops every couple of weeks and they come and want me to buy them new ones.

Well… that’s about all folks. Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are not one of our supporters but would like more information on how to become one please visit our CONTACT PAGE or go directly to the Wat Opot support website: https://www.watopot.org/en/donate

THE WATOPOTIANS

SPECIAL STAFF MEETING

Our director Mr. Dara held a staff meeting today and instead of telling us what he thought of our work performance, had us do a self-evaluation. Our responses were then posted on the board and we discussed the pros and cons of each one listed.

No one felt threatened because we were the ones who came up with the items discussed. Although I had a limited understanding of what was said by some of the staff, I think the meeting went well.

At the end of the meeting, I thanked the staff for all of the work they have and are doing and I reminded them of the fact that over the years, the Wat Opot Community has hosted many important dignitaries, including actors, entertainers, members of Royal families and Political leaders. We had television documentaries done in Europe, Asia, and Korea, Interviews on BBC and Al Jazeera, magazine articles in many leading magazines like Readers Digest, and even a front-page article in the Detroit Free Press, as well as a book written and published about our community that has reached thousands of English readers and has also been translated and published in Chinese. We have also had a huge effect on many children who grew up here and who today are very successful, as evidenced by the diplomas and certificates above the whiteboard… a new project we have just started. I ended by telling them that even though we may not see that what we are doing is that important, we have had a profound effect on millions of people around the World and it is my hope that we will continue to do so.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you are not one of our supporters but would like more information on how to become one please visit our CONTACT PAGE or go directly to the Wat Opot support website: https://www.watopot.org/en/donate

THE WATOPOTIANS

SHADOW SHADOW ON THE WALL

It was early evening and the Sun was slowly sinking into a patch of dark heavy clouds, which hopefully were full of rain… but they were still a long way off and no threat as of yet for the children playing outside. Ms. Yah, who up until a few days ago was our youngest child, was playing with her rag doll all by herself. The addition of an abandoned brother and sister, both of whom were younger than she, was now getting the attention of the older children and so she decided to entertain herself, 

Some of the children were singing Karaoke on the other side of the wall, while the others watched cartoons on the television. She made some dance moves, thinking she was all alone when suddenly a beam of Sunlight broke through a small hole in the dark clouds and showed down on her like a spotlight, casting her shadow on the wall. Startled, she jumped back and stared at the figure, unsure of what or who it was. She made a few gestures and when the figure imitated her moves she realized it belonged to her and began dancing merrily with her shadow. 

Sometimes Life can bring us down, 

And we see darkness all around,

But in those times don’t be afraid,

Think of Yah and the friend she made,

Shadow, Shadow on the wall,

You were her best friend after all.

UPDATE ON S3

We have good news for those of you who may not have been aware that S3 had been hospitalized for several days because of seizure activity

.For 17 days he lay in the hospital, most of the time unresponsive to stimuli. There was concern that he would not recover, however, 3 brain scans showed no abnormalities and so, all we could do was wait.

In the past few days he began to eat solid food and was able to stand up and walk short distances and so the doctor give the permission for him to be discharged.

Mr. Dara went to the hospital to pick him up this morning and, even though he was a bit unbalanced and required some assistance with walking, he appeared happy to be home. He said very little, however, and I was not sure how much he could understand and so to check his comprehension level I said,”Hey S3… I have some money from your grandma here.” His response was immediate and I don’t think we have to worry about him not making a full recovery..

Another positive outcome from this ordeal is that the Katha Bopha Hospital has accepted him in their epilepsy clinic and therefore his hospitalization and medicine will be free of charge.

Thanks for stopping in and thanks to all of you who are supporting us. If you wish to become a supporter please visit our CONTACT PAGE.

THE WATOPOTIANS

FIRST BARBEQUE

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?

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 WATOPOTIANS

THUMBPRINT GUARDIAN TRANSFERS

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.

THE WATOPOTIANS

NEW PRE-SCHOOL PROGRAM

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 WATOPOTIANS

CONDOLENCE

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.

THE WATOPOTIANS