Today is the funeral of Venerable Dr. Chhean Kong, abbot of Wat Khemara Buddhikaram, who died last week. Locally known as Wat Willow, it is one of the oldest and largest Khmer temples in North America.
Because of his background both as a Cambodian and a monk, Chhean was uniquely suited to treat Cambodians suffering from mental disease and trauma, such [as] post traumatic stress disorder and depression.
“He helped a lot of Cambodians with mental problems,” said Borann Duong, a member of the temple and its board of directors. “He was on call all the time, and he was very good when we had problems.”
Describing his approach to therapy to the Press-Telegram about nine years ago, Chhean said, “Rational living creates balance in the mind and body, but for many people suffering from mental illness, medicine and therapy must also be used. There is no reason for the spiritual and medical treatments to be mutually exclusive.”
In its early years, Wat Willow also offered a variety of social, community and cultural services, including weekend basketball tournaments for Khmer youth and adult day care for the elderly parents of working adults.