28 June, 2011

Kids and toys go together like, well…like kids and toys! CLC Part IV

Previous Creative Learning Center Posts:  Part I, Part II and Part III

I have been gradually bringing out a few toys at a time and a few weeks ago I finally brought out the play food (minus the 2 fake bland chicken carcasses which I left at my mom's - really, they were ugly and completely not necessary...) and cookware which were a big hit the second they caught sight of them.

After the initial fascination with the fake food, they set to work making individual market stands just like they have in their village market. 

Mr. Rong and Sopeak seem to have a sale on babies and insects!

Wey and Saon are driving their basket to the market,

While Mr. Chanthol is….well, being himself.

Virek is selling the farm,

while Miss Srey Nich drives a hard bargain!

Another satisfied customer; but can you really 'not' satisfy Saon??

As usual with our kids; they turn playful fun into learning experiences; in this case they took one of the vegetable books and flash cards to compare the produce with its English version.

Which led to finding live objects (such as our youngest Watopotian) to demonstrate the Baby card.

Not everyone partook in the marketplace; some of the older boys preferred instead to refine their chess skills (to continue to outplay the volunteers, I’m sure).

I have yet to bring out all of the toys which were bought with the donations from generous Kansans!  Stay tuned!

23 June, 2011

Bittersweet post

I’ve been meaning to post for awhile about the newest addition to WOCC.  Actually it’s a new addition into the volunteer dorms…a little furry 4 legged feline; a little orange sad mess we called Pompous; because as Cora says “all cats are pompous”.

Little pompous was brought to me one day about a month ago.  The poor little thing was found at the Wat (temple) next door and had a bad leg; which it kind of drug along when he walked.  The kids said a dog had hurt it and it was so pathetic looking I couldn’t help but take him into my room.  I had bought some dog food earlier for Fiona and Pompous gobbled it up.

He spent the first couple of days kind of hanging out in my room at night and playing in the dorm during the day.  He quickly taught himself to use the bathroom to do his ‘duty’ when no one was around to let him out.  Since there’s a drain in the floor, nothing could have been easier to clean up (in the house at least).  I will admit that he did poo on Lindsay's pillow once...but I'm sure he only did it because she kept stating "I don't like cats!".

The whole 'don't like cats' thing is just a front I know; as everyone who has said that time and again ends up playing or holding Master Pompous.  Even Lindsay eventually gave in and let him sleep on her bed during the day and I would often catch her rough-housing with him. (as she still stuck to her "I don't like cats" routine.)

Most days (when he wasn't pampered by the volunteers) Pompous could be found snoozing on a bed, playing with Wey or exploring the beads in the craft room.

If he wasn’t sleeping on my computer…

 Then he was getting caught using it!

Since Puppy Fiona was still coming around regularly to hang out in our house, Pompous had to accept that his new home was not his inclusive.  After a few normal hair-raising, or should I say fur-raising spats; and after close observation of her, Pompous soon learned to love Fiona too!

And  they soon became the best of friends, playing every chance they got.

Well, so is life; all good things must come to an end and sadly enough the great adventures of Pompous and Fiona does not have a happy ending.  Our dear (not so little anymore) Fiona has never been completely healthy.  She would be sick and then bounce back..usually. A few days ago, she once again became sick and after a few days of being kind of lethargic, she left this world for places unknown.  Pompous we welcome you (well, Wayne doesn’t really!) and Fiona we wish you the best in your next life and I hope we meet again.

17 June, 2011

Tommy's voice visits Wat Opot!

I snapped this photo of the kids during our 10ish minute meditation we have every night before snack.

We started out having it in the kids dorm, but moved it to the kitchen area since it's a much bigger space,


but with the new volunteer dorm construction; the materials are stored in there so we had to move it back to the kids dorm.  The smaller kids are in the adjoining room as we just don't all fit in one room there.

We don't discriminate...any living being is invited - furry 4-legged ones too!!

Meditation is directly after play time, but before bath time...who says you have to have a clean clear body to have a clean clear mind?

I met a wonderful special man while traveling briefly in London in 2006.  We became internet friends and as people come and go in my life; Tommy is one that has stayed close to my heart with his genuine peaceful and kind nature.  Tommy writes songs from his home in Sweden and some of his tunes really connect with a special part of my soul.  He recently sent me one which is no exception.  His songs have followed me from country to country and have entertained an international audience along the way.

I decided to share his touching voice with Cambodia during meditation last night.  The following video (a portion of the whole song) does not show the kids very well, but Tommy's voice rings clear and you can see how his voice slowly soothed everyone as they sat quietly with eyes closed and hands in their laps.  After the meditation Wayne announced that the song was from a friend of mine and everyone clapped.  I guess we'll add this song to our list of meditation music.

To hear more of his tunes please click here.

Tommy, please keep those sweet tunes coming! :-)

10 June, 2011


It’s officially the rainy season…but not much rain in sight.  Oh, we will have a down pour for a few minutes or more, but nothing to prompt the plowing of the rice fields.  One afternoon we had one such down pour and although this one lasted only about 15 minutes, the kids (and subsequently Kate and I) took full advantage of the very brief cool spell and ran out and enjoyed the fun!

The minute it started the kids poured out of the dorm; with and without clothes.

They ran, slid, chased each other and of course climbed trees.

They formed groups as protection from the older kids who would make them fall and get all muddy…although everyone eventually got dirty.

Kate was mobbed when she ran out to join them!  Not able to stay inside much longer, I snapped a photo and pushed aside all those adult words “don’t go out, it’s raining”, or “don’t get wet, you’ll catch a cold” and then ventured out in the pouring rain.  After all, I’m an adult now so I can change up the rules, right?

Eventually the rain let up and we were left with big puddles that continued to keep the kids occupied for a while longer; that and making hand prints on our bodies.

 Lastly, it was off to the pond to “clean off”. 

Fingers crossed that is will happen on a daily basis soon…the heat is seemingly unbearable and to think that Wat Opot just got electricity last year!  I did not have to experience uncomfortably hot sleepless nights without a fan to gently blow on me.  Just a year ago, there were no computers for the kids, no wireless internet, no COLD water.  

I count my blessing every night because just a few hundred meters from me could be families without the luxury of electricity, fans and  they certainly do not have wireless internet.  This is the reality I face.  This is the reality I choose to live in.  This is reality.

04 June, 2011

CLC part III

Let’s see where did I leave off from my previous CLC post…Oh, with the tile being laid.

Well the tile was 1/2 way done and Pheap (the handyman here at WOCC) went to the tile store to pick up the 2nd half of the order and in typical Khmer style they were out of that kind.  But not only were they out, they were not able to get that same kind in anymore; something they had to have known when we placed the order.  Sigh, what can you do?  

The only thing we could have; we put in a similar pattern tile and hope no one notices…or as Wayne says “It makes for a good story”.  Oh and for our troubles, they gave us a refund of something like $2.50 off of the $400+ order price!  How's that for customer satisfaction!

What nice beautiful tile!  WAIT!  One of these things is not like the other…

Once the tile was in, one more renovation was to be finished before I could get my greedy little hands in the room.  The back wall was in bad shape and would leak when it rained.  Basically it was a half wall with chain link fence material on the top and woven bamboo mats had been put up to keep the rain out.  Looking out  from the inside it was airy and bright, but needed improvement.

Outside view

Soon the fencing came down (under Wayne's watch).

And a new window with bricked in sides went up!

And the ever changing room was cleaned once again!

Then the walls got a fresh coat of paint and  I could finally bring in some stuff!  The computers were set up first in the new and improved computer room.

And before I could even get the shelves and the current toy stock unloaded from the previous room, the kids started to wander in.

Soon, a little more organization was taking place and some more kids found their way in.

CLC #IV post with the completed room and photo’s of the children overjoyed with the toys I finally brought out of my suitcase (where they have been patiently waiting for over 3 months!) coming soon!