A few months ago the Governor of our Province donated two truckloads of wood to our community, for use with the cremation of COVID victims. At the time I thought he had grossly overestimated what our need would be.

But I was wrong… here is all that we had left a few days ago.

I called the COVID office but was told there was no more money at the time to buy wood and we would have to find our own supply. On our property, there are some older trees that have died and we decided to take them down.

With the help of some men in the community, we carefully took them down, and while the men with the chainsaws cut them up in smaller pieces, the children brought them to the Crematorium.

Somoeun, our new Director of Programs, demonstrated how to split the logs into usable sizes… most of the time by swinging the axe only two or three times. The guys spent much of the next two days attempting to match his technique but found it a little more difficult than he made it seem.

Because the rainy season is upon us we had to move all of the wood to higher ground since waterlogged wood is difficult to burn. It was a lot of work but we are now prepared for several more cremations…

and even though COVID cremations have been down lately with only one or two per week, we would gladly have worked in vain if there was no more need for further cremations. Thanks for stopping in.

The Partners


With the many cremations we have been doing lately, we were running out of our supply of wood, and so I made mention of this one day to the COVID Team. It didn’t take long before the Governor of Takeo got the message and informed us that he would take care of it.

The kids worked hard on the first truckload, to stack the wood in piles, according to size, so that it can dry.

And right on cue, just as they were finishing their work, the ice cream man came by with frozen ice and ice cream cones. (How does he always know just when to come?)

We took our lunch break and the kids attended their homeschooling classes in the afternoon, however, all were back later in the afternoon when the second truckload arrived.

We are very grateful to the Governor for his assistance… but with so much wood donated, it worries me that he may know something that we don’t, about the future needs of our crematorium. Oh well, we are now well supplied with wood, and with our new seating in the shade for grieving family members, who decide to wait three to four hours for the cremation process…

and with our a newly completed prayer room…

and our new solar lights all around the building… we can now offer a twenty-four-hour funeral service just like my cousin Calvin Matthysse did for many years… although I would imagine he charged a little more than the $100.00 donation we average per funeral.

Thanks for stopping in on us, we really do appreciate your support and encouragement in these difficult days.

The Partners


In July of 2004, Rupert Everett interviewed me for an article he was doing for BBC NEWS. I was not aware of who he was at the time and in fact, mistook his manager for him when they climbed out of the van. It was not one of my better days and it evidently showed, because he described me to his staff as “a man who had witnessed too much of life”. Those were days when we were having many deaths from AIDS and I don’t doubt that his description of me was quite accurate, however, that was nearly 17 years ago, and much has changed since then and things got much more positive.

Up until a few months ago, things were running quite smoothly… our kids were doing well in their studies, even though school is still out. Healthwise everyone is good, and even though donations are down, we are doing okay, COVID-19 of course presented some problems, but life continued as normal for the most part. Even when we opened up our Volunteer dorm for 28 quarantined neighbors we were still doing okay and so when they asked to use our crematorium should someone die from the Virus, we agreed to do it… not realizing just how much need there would be.

Deaths don’t always occur during office hours and for some of the families, it is important to collect the bones on the same day as the cremation. Because I know the importance of doing things right on these once-in-a-lifetime occasions, I try my best to follow their wishes, even though it may mean staying up long after my bedtime to clean out the hot furnace so that the bones can be collected.

It is eight-o-clock in the evening on the 16th of June and the ambulance has just dropped off our 15th victim in the past month and a half. I don’t mind doing the cremations… but my concern is more for the family than it is for the victim. Knowing that their loved one was treated with respect and dignity is very important, primarily because Memories last a lifetime for those left behind.

I doubt I will ever meet Mr. Everett again, but I think if he saw me tonight he would come to the same conclusion that he did 17 years ago.

Update… Number 16 died just hours after writing this and we started the cremation at six-o-clock this morning… number 17 is waiting its turn, in the back of a parked ambulance near the crematorium and two more have died and will be coming at some point today,

It is eight-o-clock in the evening on the 17th of June and we are waiting for our last cremation of the day to arrive from the hospital. Five cremations in 24 hours is a record for us… but I hope we never even come close to breaking it again.

Thanks for stopping in!

The Partners