A NEW LOOK

With the COVID restriction now lifted in Cambodia, we are beginning to get visitors again and even have new and old volunteers interested in coming to help us redefine the post-Covid programs at Wat Opot. That of course means having to get everything back in shape, which is no small task, but by working together we have things looking pretty good again and have even added some new areas for visitors to see.

Here Mr. Ouen, our director, is assigning work details for the children… some for cleaning and others for planting gardens.

The pool has been upgraded with a wall to stop dirt and leaves from blowing in, which saves me a lot of work and also gives me better control of the children when the pool is open to the public.

And the wall of the artwork left a few years back using old CDs, that had faded into a dirty outside wall of the bathrooms and lost its pizazz, was repainted, and now stands out as soon as you enter the pool gates.

and thanks to the donation of solar lights, our Memorial Garden can now be seen from the road throughout the night. We have had people stop during the day to inquire and tour the crematorium because it is rather unique in our area. Many of the people were not aware of our Community, until the COVID cremations.

Thanks for stopping in… we hope some of you will be able to visit us in the coming year and help us build on providing new programs that are meaningful and in keeping with the constantly changing needs of the times we are living in.

The Watopotians

FESTIVAL AT THE WAT

The Post-COVID era is slowly developing in the countryside here in Cambodia with the Gypsy-like caravans of games and food stalls traveling from Wat to Wat to entertain and entice the children and young people out of whatever money they can gather, from friends or family (or me).

It does feel good, after two years of restrictions, to get out again without a mask and to interact with the community outside of our compound.

There are all kinds of junk foods and cheap toys to buy or win at the game boards, that can’t be found in local stores. Unfortunately, they don’t last that long, which is the reason the caravans keep coming back.

For some, just having the opportunity to be ‘cool’ again makes the night out worthwhile.

and although the rides and games do not compare to Six Flags or Disneyland, they do provide many of the children with a kind of adventure they have not had before.

One thing that was apparent to me tonight, and I think it represents a sign of our times, is that the large screen movie that once was the main attraction of the festival, had almost no one watching it. I think with the availability of so many smartphones that can access YouTube and Facebook at any time of day or night, the idea of watching a full-length movie on a large screen canvas is a bit outdated.

Thanks for stopping in on us. We would love to hear some post-COVID experiences from where you are and how you are handling them.

The WATOPOTIANS

EARLY WAKEUP

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.

Thanks for stopping by… we appreciate your support and interest.

The PARTNERS

COVID-19 CREMATION

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.

Thanks for your support and interest in activities.

The PARTNERS