My Aunt Winnie died back in 2008 and to my family’s surprise, she left $17,000.00 in her will for the Wat Opot Children’s Community. We used the money to finish building what was then our school building. Over the years our program has changed but the building has been in constant use from its beginning. Just recently we redecorated the building and thanks to our resident artist it has become another point of interest to our visitors.
One of our resident artists, Pesei, painted her portrait from a picture I had brought back with me from the states. Although I had never seen her dressed this way, the picture captures the Aunt Winnie I had always believed her to be.
On one side of the building is our clinic and isolation room, for when the children or residents from the outside community become sick or injured.
The other side is still used as a classroom much of the day for our little kids in the mornings and for teaching our older students and the community Math and English in the afternoons and evenings.
One of our biggest income generating projects has been the jewelry made by our children, which has brought in a couple of thousand dollars over the past year. Much of the sales happens outside of our community, in gift shops or in fund raising parties held by our volunteers when they go home. The gift shop on campus use to be at the beginning of the tour but because many guest wanted to buy things it was always a problem getting them out of the shop to finish the tour and so we decided to move the gift shop to the end of the tour which is Aunt Winnie’s Place. With some creative help, again from Pesei, we now have a new gift shop.
Each piece is labeled with the price and name of the child who made it. The children get 10% of the sales with 50% going to the education fund and the other 40% going to buy new supplies for the craft room.
We are so very grateful to Aunt Winnie for her generous gift and also for the generosity of others who help us to continue our program. This coming year we hope to have nine of our resident in University with others attending trade schools in Phnom Penh. We are making a difference… but we could not have come this far without you.