The event was also presided over by a monk, showing that the building of the furnace had been a very important event for the village, Yang said.
She added that the furnace and the morgue would benefit nearly 100,000 inhabitants in 59 villages in the area.
“Many villagers had tears in their eyes as they thanked us for the chance of being able to see their loved ones off on their final journey, and some monks in more distant villages had even walked for two days just so they could apply to use the furnace and the morgue,” Yang said.
Currently there are 20 more villages who have need of such facilities, Yang said.
Just this year, Yang visited a hospital on the border of Cambodia and Thailand and found out about the remains of many Cambodians which had been repatriated after they had illegally crossed the border to work in Thailand.
Many of the urns holding their ashes had been strewn about like garbage after they were hurriedly cremated because their deaths had resulted from either sickness, injuries sustained at work, or being beaten to death in prison, Yang said.
“I understood then why many families in Cambodia said that they had lost all contact with their family members after they left for other countries to work,” she said, adding that the idea of the deceased not being able to be reunited with their families was one she could not accept.
To that end, the agency started another fundraiser to provide proper urns — over 221 urns this year alone — in which to put the ashes of the deceased, labeling each with the name of the deceased in the hope that some day a family member would come and take them home, Yang said.
“We don’t want people to just vanish from the world,” Yang said.