How does an unused piece of land at Wat Opot go from this,
It all started a year or so ago when for various reasons, we found ourselves compelled to take in younger kids. Neglect, abuse, family instability, and sickness were some of the reasons that social services, the Takeo Hospital, and a community health organization, sought us out in order to take over care of vulnerable toddlers and preschoolers that needed immediate removal from their current situation.
If you have followed our many Facebook posts and pictures (www.facebook.com/watopot/) then you know we have added a wonderful mix of little ones’ age 5 and under to our large family. We renovated the preschool/playroom to include small and large bedrooms, a bathroom, and a laundry/storage room. We have also had to add daytime and nighttime caregivers to our staff.
Being confined to the preschool building all day long was fine at first, but as the rains slowly subsided, the children (and caregivers!) wanted to have a bit more freedom, but lacking a safe place to keep an eye on so many little ones proved a problem. Talk of converting an unused area to the left of the main building (old hospice) into a preschool playground soon entered every day conversation, but as there were many projects needing attention, it remained a vision.
But that vision suddenly became a reality with a Facebook message to Mr. Phil. A gentle message (okay, maybe it was more blunt then gentle) requesting his presence to help us out and the dream was on its way to becoming a reality. Lack of funding was the next issue.
Enter more Kiwis –
- Princess Fiona! Not only did Fiona organize a large fundraiser with the Christchurch Cambodian Community she decided to come to Opot along with her partner John, and his son Jeremy.
- Briony McKenzi and Alice Marsh raised funds with their Arty Party Fundraiser.
- And a special thanks to Ampor Mann, Savonn Mann, Rieng Thach, Khat Em, Heng Chamroeun, Ty Hout, Pavy Seng, Sangvapich, Chanthim & Samean, Saroeun & Family, and Thida Seng for having such giving hearts!
As with most projects here, it started with a hole!
So, first things first – enclosing the property which became an Opot community effort.
The little ones kept a close eye on the construction and Batman’s apprentice came all the way from Gotham City to lend a hand.
And then Mr. Phil and our new Wat Opot friend, Ms. Natalie arrived to start on the fun stuff! And soon a bunch of metal and wood,
started to morph into play houses and a jungle gym.
The older kids readily tossed their phones aside in exchange for power tools!
Add more holes and cement.
and before we knew it, Phil and Nat had to go back to New Zealand leaving us with the makings of an awesome playground!
With fence construction continuing, it was time to start on the bathroom renovation. We knocked down the original hospice bathrooms and started on their replacement; three new bathrooms, a washing station and a storage room.
Then it was time to start on the grounds and there was no shortage of preschool labor helping now as they could really understand what was happening!
The front area was bricked off and filled with sand to get ready for the paving stone to be set in place.
And not to be outdone by his winged friend, Superman flew all the way from Metropolis for the day!
NEXT came the ‘race track’ and again, sand was needed to fill in the back area.
Riding in the wheelbarrows became more fun than working; but our staff took it in stride, never mind that they had to work twice as hard.
Bricking commenced and with our track testers supervision, the finished track was completed to specification.
and the finished track!
So putting it all together – The Preschool Ten love their brand new Playground and their full time caregivers cannot express how wonderful it is to have a safe and fun place for them to run and play.
Without the physical, emotional and financial support of so many,
projects such as this one would always remain dreams.
We thank you,