Passing The Guesthouse on the way to School.

In CategoryJohns blog

The first photo today is taken inside the Guesthouse – in the kitchen.

 In the kitchen area of our Schools Guesthouse – Chanthai is helping Maigin get ready for school. We have cared for Chanthai since the very beginning of EducatingCambodia and she has her own section in the ‘village children’ section – see the index to your left – Chanthai often helps at the Guesthouse.

All the remaining photos today are taken either OF our brand new Guesthouse gates or on the track next to them.

 The gates are new and so is the 60 metre southern wall you can see in this photo. Both the gates and secure walls are required by our local government and the police who look after us. (During the many years we have known all levels of Government and Police we have ALWAYS had an honest and cheerful friendship.)


  one of our School boys, Chen,  helping with the decorative paint.

A series of photos now, mostly of our School Children coming and going. There are two shifts of classes – the morning children and the afternoon children.

 This is Tian, one of our teachers

  (The Guesthouse wall on the right) There are villagers cycling and walking through the villages selling home grown fruit and vegetables and snacks they have made. Everything costs the equivalent of a few cents.

 The little boy, Thon, is with Danni who helps at the Guesthouse. Beaudesert Rotarians who visited in January will remember Danni.

 This is what happens if you ask people to smile!

 All on the Guesthouse motorbike. Peery (you know Peery – Nangs daughter) then Mab driving, then the twins, Soklep and Sokleah and last is Soit who you also know… on the way to school. (please don’t tell me there are five people on a two seater 100cc motorbike AND no helmets. It’s one kilometre on slow dirt…. and ANYWAY this is VERY VERY rural Cambodia.)

 This man makes fruit and vegetable drinks – VERY healthy!

 Again the Guesthouse motorbike, this time with Maigin at the back.

From our Schools and the villages, the children hope you like our photos and stories. We need your financial help. If you can help in any small way or LARGE way – look to the left of your screen and find the Donate. page.. Thank you, John.









‘Nang’s 100 Day Ceremony’ – Nang – Death and Khmer Buddhism. ‘Bon Nang’

In CategoryJohns blog

‘Bon Nang’ translates to ‘party or ceremony for Nang’ but more particularly ‘The 100 day Ceremony’

We start today with a short video of the ‘Welcome to Nang’s 100 Day ceremony – Bon Nang’.

The music, chanting and prayers continue from dawn to dusk.

These are  notes that I wrote on the day of the 100 Day Ceremony, together with thoughts that have settled a little since. This is how Khmer Buddhism works after death and – specifically about Nang.

Nang died on February 1 2015 and was cremated the following day across in the small ‘extended family’ field set aside for cremation bonfires. One hundred days later we hold ‘Bon Nang’

The strong (total) belief is that for sometime after death both Nang and the Spirit World are unsure what should happen to Nang’s Spirit or Soul. The 100 day ceremony is for everyone who knew Nang – family and friends – to show their support and love for Nang – to be together all day, eating and talking and praying – our local monks and nuns are here too -…. All this is to show the Spirit World things they might not know or may have missed, to encourage a favourable ‘onward’ journey.

 This is Nang’s shrine for the day, set within a marquee. The photo at the bottom right is Nang age 16. (the other photo is of Nang’s Grand Parents)

I took every photo ever taken of Nang; many of them are within Nang’s Story, to your left in the Index. Nang died at age 24.


About 500 people are expected so lots or friends and family are involved in preparing food.


It’s an all day ceremony from dawn till dark..Older monks have often moved back in with their families and are a great source of ceremonial knowledge and wisdom. They sit together and wait as do the older women, some of whom (with very short hair) are nuns. They too are a good source of advice and history.



We haven’t got dressed properly for the day in the third photo above. This is Nang’s mother, Cheng and Nang’s daughter, Peery.

My writing today …..  I will do as well as I possibly can. If you read ‘Nang’s Story’ to your left you will see that Nang was important to me and I was important to Nang…five times I have used the phrase ‘We don’t necessarily believe in miracles but we do rely on them” – time and time and time again Nang fought through and stayed alive…(read Nang’s Story)  and I was given and took a role at both her funeral and throughout this ‘100 Day ceremony’.. and she remains important.

So: there is a total belief that what we THINK and SAY about a person after their death effects their ‘pathway’ or ‘onward journey’.. It is all about helping Nang as best we can.

This ‘onward journey’ can take any form. Almost everyone expects re-birth either into a better life for good people, or for bad people – a worse life.  Nang did nothing wrong so everyone who knew (knows) Nang expects a better life for her this next time….. BUT….

….BUT…. there are two more options – if Nang was perfect or was at peace eventually with perfection then TWO options are put to Nang by The Spirit World:

1 Nirvana – go to paradise …. (Nang fought death right to the last second. Nang was desperate to be alive so not necessarily at ‘peace’.)

2 She can voluntarily become what the Tibetans call a ‘Boddhisatva’, a kind of living angel. This would mean that Nang is given the chance of Nirvana (Heaven) or she can be reborn to help the WORLD. (we have possible examples of Boddhisatvas in say Mother Theresa, or even Nelson Mandela or Ghandi – controversial names I know but I hope you get the idea. In other words, ‘there is far too much to do in THIS world for me to live in Paradise!’…

There are other possibilities – stay around as a GHOST (Khmer people are VERY scared of this option and have all sorts of prayers and practices to stop Ghosts getting into their home …)

…… or live on through others!… consciously being part of other people…… BUT most people think ‘re-birth’ for ALMOST everyone.

‘Bon Nang’ was all day. A marquee, food, a dais and hundreds of people – sitting, talking, laughing, crying, eating, chatting and milling around – prayers, chanting – a very good day.

Peery and I get ready to receive guests and get through a long day.


I have a great many photos of everyone in the villages. I have enlarged many of Nang’s photos partly to ensure that 6 year old Peery has a chance of remembering her wonderful mother. My personal favourite is the second photo in this row. I took it after Peery’s first day at School. Peery had already started to learn to draw the Khmer alphabet and she was teaching her mother. Nang never went to school. No one went to school before we built the first School.

 A very interesting photograph. It is a photo-shopped version of the other one – the original – see below.


  Nang’s mother took my original to a  small internet stall in a Market and got them to add extra hair and a business jacket.. Its a very moving piece of wishful thinking. Nang’s mother wanted this photo in the shrine but I won the discussion. I wanted a real photo.

There was a small official ceremony in the morning and a BIG ceremony in the afternoon, with people sitting around tables, 8 people to each table, eating and drinking in say 30 minute sittings right throughout the day – five hundred people

It costs money to hold this special day for Nang; the monks need paying, there’s a lot of food and drink – there are chairs, tables and marquee hire and sound equipment. (All the official prayers and chanting is broadcast all day from a loudspeaker)….. So there is an entrance fee of about $1 which most people can’t afford, so ‘most people’ give a small bag of rice and/or a couple of home grown vegetables… The day unfolds within the photos so you should be able to find written comment from me that matches one or more of the photos.

I was ‘family’ and was there, setting up, hosting the monks and nuns, helping with food and eventually saying Bye bye to everyone and packing everything away. Everyone knows everyone and it was a friendly, loving, day – for Nang – but also of course for the family and cohesion of the villages.

Peery not entirely sure what to make of the day.


Food being prepared throughout the day. Woks of chicken and rice soup constantly simmering.


The day was expensive – food, monks to pay, marquee, chair and table hire – but most people couldn’t afford the $1…. so most people paid with a small bag of rice or a home grown vegetable or fruit.

 we’ll eat later after everyone else.


All day long, the tables fill and the people move on to chat and tell tales of Nang’s life.

Food is given to Nang.. The door to the ashes shrine is open so people can chat to her or with her.


Our monks are VERY good. The head monk or Abbott on the right  (There are many small articles in which he features through this website) does lots of official prayers but the more important parts are basically a eulogy.. Nang’s life from the village perspective.

Nang’s Doctor (See Nang’s Story) – ‘OUR Doctor – Doctor Tour Suy – wrote to me . “Nang is with you and me always” and I replied ‘Always”… Right now,- Nang is with me..

Nang’s Story is far from over. Nang has inspired me to fight without hesitation- to cling to our goals and life – to make our Clinic work and to get ALL our boys and girls as far as we can. And Peery will thrive. Jana from Australia (Jana also paid for Chanthai’s Dentistry) is giving $50 per month to ensure Peery is safe and well into the future and I will help with the rest. One of the very good things about our villages is that they are remarkable examples of the old saying “The village raises the child”. There is an entire village to care for Peery.