Light of Mercy is a home for young boys and girls aged 9-25 who are blind, deaf, disabled, or vulnerable. The home can accommodate 30-35 children. There, the youth learn life skills such as personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, health care, and being self-sufficient by way of helping out with domestic tasks. The children and young adults attend schools that are appropriate for their needs, and when they are not at school, they participate in extracurricular activities such as traditional and modern music, dance, language course, and simple crafts at the home. Most if not all of the children come from and have families in the Cambodian provinces. During long holidays like Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben, many return home to be with their families.
The home relies solely on the generosity of benefactors. In this instance, the children and youth went on a sponsored field trip to Koh Dach with 11th-graders and their teachers from 2 schools in New South Wales, Australia. The children sang, played games, and swam in the muddy Mekong River. Language was mostly a barrier, especially for the young ones, but for the few who spoke English relatively well, they were able to interact with the foreigners, and vice versa. Some Australian students took the opportunity to practice sign language with a few children from Light of Mercy. Through these exchanges, some of the youth became Facebook friends.
The home operates purely on donation-basis, so if you are inclined to make a donation to the home, kindly contact me at da.amazon.bird [at] gmail [dot] com for details. Thank you in advance.
Naturally, one of the things to do at Silk Island is to go on a silk farm tour. I learned a bit about the worm-to-silk process when I was there. Some interesting facts:
1) Silkworm moths allegedly mate for 8 long hours. The male eventually dies from fatigue while the female remains alive long enough to lay eggs before she too succumbs to the ordeal.
2) The eggs turn into tiny silkworms that feed on mulberry leaves. It usually takes a number of days for the worms to grow in size and to spin a cocoon.
3) Once the yellow cocoons take shape, the producers kill about 80 percent of them before the pulpas metamorphose and hatch into silkworm moths. They kill the pulpas by putting the cocoons under direct hot sun or by boiling them in water.
4) The producers allow about 20 percent of the cocoons to hatch into silkworm moths to continue the breeding process. Cocoons where moths are hatched from are rendered useless as they no longer contain the raw and fine silk.
5) In the next stage, the producers separate the raw and fine silk from the cocoons in hot water. Then they retrieve the silk thread with an eggplant leaf and spin it onto a large spool. The dead pulpas are cooked and eaten as a delicacy.
This is the traditional way of retrieving silk from cocoons.
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