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For many years the Wat Opot Children’s Community has enjoyed the friendship and support of several organizations and individuals from around the globe. They have fed us, clothed us, provided educational and recreational supplies and equipment for us, and entertained us on Holidays and special occasions. For this, we are very grateful and there is no doubt that without this assistance we would not have been able to provide hospice care and free cremation services to the hundreds of AIDS victims who died with us, or to assist in the reconstruction of the livelihoods of the surviving family members, or to care for the affected and infected vulnerable children left behind.
Times have changed, however, and there seems to be much more uncertainty about the future of mankind. The COVID pandemic had a lot to do with that, of course… but so has the increase in natural disasters around the World. Extremism is growing and it is difficult not to be forced into taking sides… on any given day there is a new threat of another World War or the annihilation of mankind. All of these things have resulted in a drastic decrease in our funding sources and although we have done much to self-sustain our community by growing vegetable gardens and selling livestock, fish, and foul, there is no way we can do it all.
In the past couple of months we have taken in nine new children, most coming from Social Services, and because few have any known family, will most likely be long-term placements. That puts us at 35 residents now, with the youngest being 4 years old. That number will most likely be going up because Social Service workers say they have few other options for placing children needing long-term placement, especially when there are multiple children from one family.
Our commitment to raising our children in a positive environment hasn’t changed and we are very proud of the successes most of our Alumni have attained… many are now married with families of their own. Several have graduated from universities while others have attended trade schools or started their own businesses, or work in other Non-Government Organizations. You may run into them at some of Phnom Penh’s finest hotels and restaurants. Most would not be where they are today if it were not for the Wat Opot Community and its staff of dedicated workers and the Volunteers who assist in their upbringing.
For this reason, I am forced to ask for assistance in helping us to pay our indigenous staff a decent wage. Most earn less than $200.00 a month for full-time work, and some of these staff have been with us for over 20 years. Expats and Volunteers pay for their own living expenses and many make contributions after they leave. Our infrastructure is excellent but what we need most is running costs.
- Most of our children enjoy eating outside in the old gazebo, however, at times it gets a bit crowded. A new enterprise just started a few miles down the road and we stopped to see what a new Gazebo would cost. They wanted $350.00 but we talked them down to $330.00 and so we bought it with our sustainable funds which are running low. Is anyone interested in helping us cover some of the cost?
- We are very grateful to the SAKKA foundation for the many years that they funded our daily food bill, however, they are no longer able to continue their support and we will need to find new donors. Right now we average about $800.00 a month (that does not include the rice). Any assistance would be appreciated.
- In 2017 The SAKKA Foundation raised the funds to install Solar Panels on our property. At the time it was connected to the government grid and it worked very well, cutting our electric bill substantially… we did not feel batteries were needed at the time. Unfortunately, the power company fell into private hands and when they saw the dials turning backward they felt we were cheating them and so they demanded we disconnect the panels from their grid. Along came COVID and trying to raise funds for even our basic needs became difficult. The panels still work but we need to buy batteries in order to create an off-grid system. Our best estimate from a local company was $14,000.00. If anyone knows about Solar systems we would love to get them working again.
We were able to fix the fencing in front of the office but still have to repair the doors which are quite dangerous right now because one of the children ran their bicycle into one side and the other was done with a slingshot but no one seems to know who did it. We hope to cut the glass and put metal in the bottom half. The cost will be approximately $250.00.Funded… Thanks, Donna, Linda, Vicky, and Sandy!
n all of my 20-plus years at Wat Opot, I can not remember a time when we didn’t have an abundance of rice in our storeroom. Always enough to share with anyone who needed it… but today when I went o check this is all we have left. Work has started on the long overdue repair and revitalization of the wall in front of our main office building and new library. This is one of the first structures built many years ago and is still one of the most used areason our campus because of its centralized location under the large Umbrella trees. The cost of this project will be in the range of $500.00 if anyone is interested in chipping in.The wall was completed with funds from our Sustainability Projects. This is Srey Leap… she is 2 months old and living with Grandma. She was born in prison and although the mother was released so that she could care for her, she abandon the baby and left her with the mother of the father, who has a three-year sentence. Because both grandmother and father are former residents of Wat Opot we have decided to help provide the formula for the baby because Grandma wants to keep her even though she is not well off. The formula cost about $60.00 per month if anyone is interested in helping with support. We have agreed to support her for one year and will not need any more than$720.00.This has been taken care of until she is 2 years old! Thanks to Mr. Peng Songlim, Mr. Chhim Tepwinuth, and their team. We are growing a lot more of our own food but cultivating is mostly done with hoes… a small cultivator would save us a lot of time and if anyone has ever done garden work in 90-degree weather you would know why we would like to have a new one. We also need a new grass cutter.We purchased this with money from our sustainability fund because we needed to get started right away. We need to buy at least one more used motorcycle for our High School students who must travel four kilometers to school. Presently they are riding 3 or 4 on each of the two motorbikes we have. The approximate cost is $500.00 for a “good” used one.Funded… Thanks, Bonnie! We have three washing machines that are in almost continuous use. All of them have broken down and the kids are now washing them by hand. We will try to have them fixed (again) but a new machine or machines would be nice. The estimated cost per machine is $300.00.Funded… Thanks, Bonnie! Our next project is building a home for pigs since we produce a lot of edible waste from the kitchen and garden We had a building once used as a residence for staff but was no longer suitable for residence because of its proximity to the crematorium and the supposed Spirits that live around it… and so we decided to make use of it instead of building a new structure. Tearing it down hasn’t cost us much and when finished we will have space for two or three pigs which will cost approximately $50.00 each should anyone wish to help us out.Funded… Thanks, Donna, Linda, Vicky, and Sandy!