Wat Opot Community Center
- Takeo Province
The Wat Opot Community Center (WOCC) is a Cambodian non-profit organization registered with the Ministry of Social Services. WOCC financially, academically and medically supports over 75 children and young adults. We are located adjacent to a Buddhist Temple (Wat) in the Takeo Province of Cambodia, 47 Kilometers south of Phnom Penh.
WOCC was started as the Wat Opot Project, an AIDS hospice, in 2002 when anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines were not yet available in Cambodia. In 2004 ARV medication became available to the adult residents of Wat Opot and for the children in 2005. By 2007, the residents went from dying from the virus to being able to live productively with it and the hospice was officially closed.
The Wat Opot Project was transformed into a children's community center in order to provide residential and health care for the children who were left behind after their parents or caregivers died.
It is rare, and perhaps unique in Cambodia, for HIV-infected and non-infected children to thrive together, sharing homes, meals and playing together. This sets an example for the rural community we are a part of, and its effect on increasing tolerance and diminishing fear cannot be overstated. Wat Opot is a loving extended family, a place where former kids (now adults) spend their summer break and return to on holidays, sometimes bringing their own new families.
Through partner organizations, other NGO’s, local village chiefs and word of mouth, WOCC is a safe refuge for immediate placement of a child in danger, or a long term care facility for a sickly child. Home assessments are completed on each new case determining whether the child can stay with her/his family (and attend school) with some financial help or if it’s a destructive situation where the child’s physical or emotional health is in danger.
Wat Opot is a very special place and as one volunteer described, “I don’t know what it is, but Wat Opot gets under your skin and then it gets into your heart. By the time you are ready to leave, you are already planning your next visit.”
Creative English Teacher (Volunteer Opportunity)
Creative Preschool Teacher (Volunteer Opportunity)