A few days ago the COVID-19 team came to fumigate our campus after discharging all of the quarantined factory workers. I believe there were 28 of them at the highest point. They all tested negative and were allowed to return to their workplaces.
I didn’t really see a need for it since no one in the group was positive but better safe than sorry I guess. I was glad to get back to the security and privacy of the volunteer dorm again and relieved that the crisis appeared to be over.
It is just after five in the morning… just got a call to open the gate because the ambulance was waiting outside with the fifth victim of COVID-19. I dressed as fast as I could and found them waiting impatiently. There were only two attendants and the driver… I wondered where the rest of the team was? I loaded the furnace with charcoal before suiting up and as I turned around I realized that they had already removed the body and placed it by my feet. I quickly put on my protective garments. We loaded the body into the furnace and I placed the wood around it.
By six o’clock, the fire was burning, and I could finally get to my coffee and breakfast. Thanks to the kids our crematorium is always ready to go now and I don’t have to worry about getting caught unprepared.
Just before our evening meal some of the boys helped to gather the bones and after we chanted, they helped to prepare the furnace for the next time, which I hope will never come… but realistically could be tonight.
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It is 4:30 in the morning and I am sitting here alone at the crematorium again, waiting for the COVID-19 team to come with another victim of the pandemic… a middle-aged woman who died within hours of being hospitalized. The man who did the last cremation lost his construction job when his employer found out about it and so he said he would not do it anymore. Not sure who they will find to do it at this hour of the morning.
People are either afraid of getting the virus or afraid of being ostracized by friends and family because they get involved. Only a fool who has nothing to lose would volunteer for this job.
Not the greatest fit but they did eventually find a way of protecting the vulnerable areas of my body, and we were finally ready to go.
Every precaution was made to disinfect the whole area prior to bringing the body in through the gate.
And again after the body was placed in the furnace the area was fumigated and I was doused in alcohol as I removed my protective gear.
Not sure if this is going to be my permanent job… but I doubt they will find anyone else willing to do it now that they know I can be talked into it. I hope that there will not be many more deaths in our area… but if there are, I hope they can find protection gear in XXL for me.
Because the families of the victims of COVID-19 are under strict quarantine and can not attend the cremation service, we, who know a lot about death and cremations, perform a simple Buddist service in their absence. This video was made for those families in the hope that it will bring some comfort to them… knowing that their loved one was not just disposed of, but was treated with respect and dignity. The remains are saved until the family can claim them and have a proper ceremony.
A death today of a middle-aged man, in a RedZone not far from us, resulted in a request to use our crematorium, since it was not sure if the victim was positive or not but they didn’t want to take any chances.
It took the kids and staff a good hour to get things ready and although I am not allowed to participate in the actual ceremony anymore, I still want to make sure it is done in a respectful manner.
The ambulance arrived a short time later and everyone was told to stay far away. No family members or guests were allowed to witness the event and those that helped were disinfected several times as they placed the body into the furnace.
The furnace door was closed and the fire lit but this time there were no mournful tears as is usually the case. Only the sound of the ambulance leaving our back gate.
Infections are on the rise in Cambodia and as a result, several thousand people are under strict quarantine. The death count is still just a bit over 100, however, and we hope that it will not go that much higher.
Some people have expressed concern that we may be endangering the children and I can assure you that we have taken that into consideration… but these people being quarantined and dying are our neighbors just outside of our gates. We are providing a safe area to quarantine them so that if they do become positive they can be taken in for treatment immediately. We also have the only working crematorium, for many miles around, that is not in a residential area… making it ideal for a safe and secure final disposition.
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A few months back the Wat decided to fill in their part of the pond we shared and in the process, the deteriorating fence that separated us for several years was weakened and part of the wall came down.
It will have to be repaired before the rains return but all of the options so far have been rather expensive. While we make our decision on the next move, we decided to drain the pond and harvest the fish.
Several Kilos of Pra were captured including some very large Catfish, which explains why there were very few small fish in the pond.
We sold what we could and the rest, our kitchen staff are preparing for the children’s meals.
On another note, a government clean-up crew arrived early this morning to begin cleaning the rooms of the Volunteer dorm, which hasn’t been in use for over a year. and most likely will not be used again until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
The COVID-19 Taskforce arrived later this afternoon to inspect the rooms and offer their gratitude for offering our place as a possible quarantine center, should the need arise.
We all hope that our place will never be needed to house those requiring quarantine… but at the same time realize the necessity of being prepared, should the pandemic get out of hand. It’s scary to think that the virus is spreading and coming closer to us… but at the same time, using our facilities to help the nation prevent its spread, puts us back on the front lines.
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