Tuesday, December 29, 2015


link to the book here

Khleng ek - the singing kite -
flies the heavens
in gratitude for harvest.
It sings its prayers to the God of the Wind,
for dispersing the clouds and bringing the sun,
so the rice grew well.

Below, the orphans of Wat Opot
know joy,
watching Brother Kite carry their dreams
and prayers
to the heavens, where all their parents live.

In long gone days, the old kite masters
could fashion kites that sang in seven tones,
a glorious symphony
heard below, especially in darkness,
when the heat and clamor of the day was done.
The orphans' kites sing in three tones,
sometimes five,
a miracle of small hearts
that try to hold big dreams
against the certain knowledge
of all that took their families

Some time back, I read In a Rocket Made of Ice, by Gail Gutradt, about the AIDS-impacted (and many HIV-positive) orphans of Wat Opot, in Cambodia. The orphanage, which now houses many orphans, and offers medical and supportive care to nearby villagers, as well as programs for the children, was begun by Wayne Matthysse, a former Marine corp medic in Vietnam. When he saw the need and responded, he had only fifty dollars in his pocket.

Now, he says he still has only fifty dollars in his pocket, but the work they are doing there, the lives they are helping, sustaining and, often times, honoring at their closing, is phenomenal.Gail has spent much time there among the children, and relays the children's stories so beautifully, that at each's chapter's closing, my heart felt a regretful ping. I grieved at the end of this journey among the children, upon closing the last page.

It is not the sadness of their plight, but the joy with which they live, that holds great lessons for the rest of us.


  1. This is exquisite, Sherry. Just beautifully done.

  2. Fine poem--it honors the orphans and the tradition. And thank you for the link to the book.

  3. HIV is not over. Thank you for sharing

  4. There were among the privileged that realized a need and did something about it. It takes not just talents but resolve to make them happen. Thanks for sharing Sherry!.


  5. And now with treatment, though not a cure, those kids have a future.
    AVERT company line: "Searching for an HIV and AIDS cure. There is no cure for HIV and AIDS yet. However, treatment can control HIV and enable people to live a long and healthy life. Some people think that treatment is a cure for HIV but it isn't because at the moment there is no way to remove HIV from the body.".
    So major emphasis now is funding and treatment for life.
    Nicely written, Sherry, I am glad you read, and could share Wat Opot with us

  6. Such a beautiful poem, with a healing quality for its sheer loving gift of rendering

    Much love...

  7. The kite is the perfect metaphor here for love in the ruins, for lifting up again what can continue. Eerie long shadow too between Wat Opot -- the village of AIDS orphans -- and Pol Pot, the regime which killed millions of parents of AIDS victims. The huge shadow passes through the generations in its own way, taking what life that it can; and yet those frail flickering kites still life and hover, if someone has a heart and 50 bucks in their pocket. So well told.

  8. A beautiful poem, children with aids are still marginalized in many communities and they need all the help they can get. A very happy new year to you Sherry. Hope 2016 is all that you wish and more.

  9. Such an inspiring message. Thanks for passing the spirit of this project along in your poem.

  10. One feels humbled when reading about
    people like Wayne Matthysse. It puts what is important in perspective. Thanks for this.

  11. Thanks for sharing this. Hope the kites fly higher and higher.

  12. So beautiful and I pray the kites are filled with the wind of healing love.


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