The children love watching international talent shows. One song from Britain’s got Talent was performed by father and son duo, Jack and Tim, titled “We are the Lucky Ones”. Wayne plays it nights before meditation gets underway and the children have heard it enough that they casually sing along. The song’s chorus is a reminder of the many Watopotians that did leave here too young.
We’re the lucky ones
Only just begun
Others leave too young
We’re the lucky ones
But it’s also a reminder of how very lucky those of us are to have such a healthy, happy life. Lucky to have so many who care deeply about us. Lucky to have a large group of Taiwanese Businessmen headed by Mr. Sunny HSU, who have become quite fond of us.
Actually that’s an understatement. Over the years they have funded trips from a weekend in Phnom Penh -to a 3 day trip to Koh Rong Island. They have provided uncountable amounts of food supplies and snacks, books and toys, and toiletries and clothes especially during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
But more importantly, they have funded very large projects from Wat Opot’s very first dormitory – to a complete fence surrounding our property.
Well once again they pooled their resourced and gave us an enormous gift, a gift that is hard to believe exists.
It started years ago when on a visit to Wat Opot, Sunny saw the children swimming in the murky waters of one of our ponds.
There are ponds such as this dotted throughout villages providing a cool reprieve on a scorching day. In a country such as Cambodia, those living in rural areas must go to the water for daily tasks such as farming, fishing and household related chores, as well as giving their cattle (or bicycle or motorcycle) a scrub down. But this close relationship with water has its consequences. Child drowning in Cambodia is estimated to exceed 2200 deaths every year – almost 6 children drown every day in a country crisscrossed by rivers, canals, rice paddies, and ponds.
In a 2012 report, UNICEF found that drowning is the leading cause of death for children in Cambodia after the age of 1. In our own village of Sramouch He, there are at least 2 drownings every rainy season when the rice fields fill with water. The astounding number of drowning victims means that the number of children who drown is greater than the number who die from malaria, HIV/AIDS, dengue, and traffic accidents. Drowning has been significantly underestimated because statistics were collected from hospitals, where children who drown are seldom taken, the report says.
We are fortunate at Wat Opot in that we are able to supervise our swimmers, young and old, and with volunteers swimming along and teaching the kids how to swim (well maybe not properly, but at least how to survive in the water), we have never had anyone drown on our property.
So when the comment was made by Sunny that maybe they could build us a swimming pool, with a wink and a nod, we said “Sure, that would be nice.”
Another year of monitored swimming in our ponds went by and the pool subject was revisited every so often when some of our Taiwanese friends came to visit. Then earlier this year, that vision started to become a reality when Sunny and some staff came to us with a proposal. Unbeknownst to us, he had been trying for quite a while to find business friends to help and was finally successful in raising all the funds needed to complete a first-class swimming pool.
We still didn’t believe it would happen until we were instructed to drain our large pond because the construction would begin the following week.
And then came truck after truck hauling rock, dirt and sand.
Those dirt piles were almost more fun than that that pond ever was!
The progress was quick and soon the pool started taking shape.
And then the real work started on the pool, shower house and security fence around it
But it wasn’t until they started laying tile that the kids (and staff!) became very excited!
Once the pool was finished we got busy getting all the little necessities ready.
The outside area needed to have new sidewalk installed and beautified with trees and flowering shrubs
and bathroom accessories were hung. While a little DIY project to create small cubbies for the little one’s clothes and shoes was happening, many kids could not resist touching that clean clear water!
With the completion of outside and bathroom/shower areas, there was nothing to do but wait for the the grand opening celebration – which was done in true celebratory style complete with a ribbon cutting and blessing over the pool.
And a feast!
Our first dip in the pool started with a meditation to thank the Wat-Opot- Taiwanese-Community for the pool and acknowledge what the universe continues to provide for us.
And then we JUMPED IN!
The pool design was well thought out with 1/3 dedicated to a shallow kiddy area and 2/3 for the ‘big’ kids with the deepest area under 2 meters.
A month later and we are still learning how regulate the pool and keep it clear and clean. It’s a daily chore as the winds bring in dust and sand, the rains throw off the chemical balance and the hot sun decreases the chlorine. It’s our hope that once we get things settled, we would be able to offer swim lessons to children in the community. Just another contribution to the village that accepted us so long ago.
Thanks for checking in.