Two Years in the Kingdom- Wat Opot Childrens Community

April 3, 2019


Hello All, and thanks for following me. This weeks blog post is about Wat Opot Childrens Community.  I know ther e is a lot of bad press out there about orphanages. People like JK Rowling are pushing an agenda to have them all shut down. I suggest that you make an informed decision before taking a position. I’ve spent time at Wat Opot. I’ve spent time at orphanages in Haiti and Guyana. I’ve heard the arguments. Yes, there are places that are unregulated and should be shut down. But not all of them. I can say this without hesitation. There are places like Wat Opot and this is their story:

Wayne Matthysse was a medic during the Vietnam War. He was one of only two that survived the war out of his entire company.  The company was out on a mission one day when they realized they were surrounded. They called in for help and that’s when they found out that they were on a suicide mission. There would be no help. Nobody was coming to save them. A shell went off close to them and hit one of the men. Wayne ran out to help him when another went off. Shrapnel shattered the left side of his glasses, blinding Wayne. They tried to call for help and this time a rogue helicopter pilot responded. He flew in and the company got Wayne and the other soldier on the helicopter but this, however, gave away their position to the North Vietnamese. Seconds after to chopper was in the air the rest of the company was slaughtered.  Wayne had only been in Vietnam for 2 months and now back in the US he found work on the Navajo Reservation for the next 12 years. Eventually he made his way to Honduras where he worked with a missionary and built a medical clinic for a remote village. He spent another 12 years in Honduras but due to the violence he was forced to leave. He decided to return to Cambodia. Without money, connections or even knowing how to speak Khmer he opened an AIDS hospice with a Cambodian friend he had met. Back then the medications for treatment were not yet available and little was understood on how AIDS was contracted. Therefore, people diagnosed with AIDS were often completely abandoned by their family and community. They were left to die on their own even if they contracted the virus through no fault of their own. Wayne offered these people a place to die with dignity and care. As more people died at Wat Opot they often left children behind that were now homeless and also carrying the virus. Wat Opot is no longer a hospice but an orphanage for these children. There are about 50 children here, many of which are HIV positive. Many of them have family but for one reason or another are unable to live there. Wat Opot offers them a safe and secure alternative. Wat Opot is about 10 K from where I live and I get up there when I can. Volunteers are welcome to come here and stay. Find out for yourself the facts about orphanages.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

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