Thanks to a generous donation we were finally able to get our swimming pool back in shape by calling the same construction crew who built it for us. When we explained that the filters just weren’t doing a good job they told us that others had also had the same problem because it was a fault in the design. but they now knew how to fix it and would be happy to do it for us (for a price of course).

It was great having a clean pool again, however, it made the space in front of the Art room look drab, so we decided to add a bench for the lifeguard to sit on that could also be used as a desk for drawing when we had art class.

With the kids out of school, it didn’t take long for the idea to turn into a reality and everyone agreed it was a big improvement, but…

the new bench made the old cement floor look ugly, so we decided to put in a new floor since we had plenty of help to mix the cement and carry the tile.

And in just a few days we now have a new favorite hangout and also a good cool place to end tours when visitors come through.

Thanks for stopping in… for those of you who are not yet 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:



In 2002 I had a big decision to make. I had been living quite comfortably in Phnom Penh while traveling out to the Wat Opot Project once a week to check on the families and oversee progress on the building that would one day house a clinic and possibly a hospice unit for AIDS victims. It had never occurred to me that I would one day leave the comforts of the big city to live in a rural setting without electricity or the many other Western comforts I was used to and with people whom I did not know. A visit to one of the sick children, however, changed all of that.

Chhang and his mother were both HIV positive… we had been supporting them with rice and fish for a few months but their condition was deteriorating. At the time there were no medicines available in Cambodia and the most we could do was try to make their final days as comfortable as possible. Chhang was running a high fever and I did not feel comfortable leaving him in the care of his family, so I told Vandin to have him and his mother come back to the Project and I would treat him there, even though we were not yet fully prepared to open. Although Chhang did improve for a while, his admission opened the door for others to follow, and the decision was made for me to take up residency at the Project.

That was over twenty years ago and things have changed a lot since then. I now live a very comfortable life at Wat Opot with a large group of people who are like family to me. The idea of moving back to Phnom Penh is scary because it has grown so much and I can’t get around nearly as well as I once could… still, many of the Watopotian Alumni now live and work there, Several are married and have children. Most are doing well but some still have problems at times and I would like to be able to be a part of their lives as well.

Wat Opot is doing well under the leadership of Dara and Scott and for that reason I have decided that I will move back to Phnom Penh and split the time I have left between them. I will keep you posted on my progress.

The Watopotian


Reviving the tradition of Art Expression with meditation music every Sunday morning.

Sunday mornings start with breakfast, usually instant noodles, and then a quick clean-up of the campus grounds. Between the hours of eight and nine, all of the children gather in the dining room where they are given the opportunity to express themselves through art while listening to meditation music.

I am not sure how therapeutic it is for them … but for me, to see them all sitting quietly for an hour while I enjoy a hot cup of coffee, is very therapeutic.

Young and old participate in the activity, and although there are various degrees of creative ability in the group, most of them make a serious effort to produce something beautiful.

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:



I had, so much, been looking forward to getting back to Cambodia and the warmer weather but wasn’t prepared for the heat as I walked out of the airport in Phnom Penh. The travel back went much better than I expected and the airline service took good care of me. The 15-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore was my biggest worry but they put me in an aisle seat with no seats ahead of me so I had plenty of leg room and the bathroom was just steps away. The seat was small and I was concerned for anyone who would have to sit next to me, but as the plane loaded and the doors were shut I realized that seat was not taken. The best part was the next seat over was a young businessman from Singapore and we were able to have some good discussions in between meals and naps.

Some miscommunications left me stranded at the airport for a short time but I eventually got to my hotel and was able to relax… all of the worries of not making a connection, canceled flights, or not getting to a bathroom in time were needless. A COMING HOME party was held at the riverside Saturday evening and on Sunday I slept in and just enjoyed Phnom Penh from my balcony.

Dara picked me up Monday morning but informed me we would be picking up Srey Liep and taking her back to Wat Opot again because Grandma was back in the hospital… so much for a slow reintroduction to the Watopotian lifestyle.

The children seemed as happy to see me as I was to see them again and although the attention can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is so much better than the solitude of being alone. A couple of new kids have been added during the time I was away.

Not much has changed during the time I was gone. Dara, Scott, and the Staff have done a good job of managing the place in my absence, for which I am very grateful. Not sure what role I will play in the future… but there is still a lot of work to be done here and I hope that my health continues to improve so that I can remain a contributing part of the Wat Opot Community.

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.



It is difficult being in the States knowing that the daily activities at Wat Opot continue and that Mr. Dara, the staff, and all of the children are doing well without me. Corresponding from time to time with them via telephone brightens my day but does nothing to help clear the uncertainties of my future. My vision has returned to what it was before and I await new glasses from the Veterans Affair. My Blood pressure and Glucose levels are under control with medicine and I am feeling much better than before, and so I should be able to make a decision in the next few weeks regarding my next move. I appreciate very much the prayers and messages of support I have received for myself… but more important I am very grateful to all who have come through with their much needed support for the children and staff of the Wat Opot Community. You can follow this link to a new Facebook video that was just completed, if you would like to learn more about the community and the children.

Wayne Dale Matthysse


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


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.



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.



I am not always happy with the choices our children make for themselves but then, I suppose I disappointed my parents as well with the seemingly bad choices I made in my youth… well I made some in my middle ages as well, okay I still make them, but it is those choices, however, no matter how bad they were, that made me what I am today… and I am happy with who I have become. Many times bad choices end in good results and I would like to share just one with you today.

This is our newest granddaughter Meng Ly born just two months ago… the beautiful results of what I thought was a bad decision by the mother… not the first time I have been wrong.

Perhaps one of the greatest joys I have is to see Watopotians making it on their own and starting their own families.

And the second greatest joy is to see how the Wat Opot family supports each other.

Thanks for stopping in and if you want to continue to follow us please consider adding your name to the mailing list as I am thinking of pulling out of Facebook and social media and concentrating only on my websites.

The Watopotians


It is always nice to be visited by old neighbors who stop in to see how we are doing. Mom Vanny once lived in our area and remembered us as an AIDS hospice. She and her family and friends raised the money to buy school material for our children, as well as laundry soap and dental hygiene supplies .

Besides the cash and supplies they brought delicious snacks for the children…

which they had no problem devouring on the spot.

Many of our children are on home leave for the first time in two years and so thay missed out on this occassion. We are left with those who have no place to go, and that is why occassion like this are especially meaningful.

Thanks for stopping in and if you want to continue to follow us please consider adding your name to the mailing list as I am thinking of pulling out of Facebook and social media and concentrating only on my websites.