You may have seen Muny So around Playford, he is hard to miss with his striking orange robes and beaming smile.
We recently sat down for a chat with Muny and his ‘sister’/translator Trish to find out a bit more about his volunteering, and his life in Playford.
As one of the valuable volunteers with the Playford Greening and Landcare Group, Muny is a very familiar face to Council’s Biodiversity Team. He has assisted in the nursery planting seedlings and planting out along Smith Creek Trail and, more recently, at Adams Creek over the past year.
His volunteering efforts in Adelaide’s Northern and Western suburbs are impressive. When we asked him where he has been volunteering, he handed over a five page document detailing all of his volunteer work for the past three years. He works mostly with environmental groups (cleaning up or planting out), in addition to assisting at community centres and food banks - and he particularly enjoys volunteering in Aged Care.
Muny says that “Volunteering is the path to help people.”
Muny So arrived in Playford from Cambodia six years ago with five other Buddhist monks in order to build a temple – the Watt Preah Puth Mean Chey temple at MacDonald Park. They envisioned their temple would be a gathering place and bring together people of all cultures to learn more about Buddhism and find a path to peace through meditation and community.
Volunteering is the path to help people.
Six years later they are still raising funds to take their temple to completion. Muny does however lead meditation classes at the site and encourages anyone who is interested to come along - in Muny’s words, “all are welcome.”
As well as his volunteering and fund-raising efforts, Muny has also been studying at Thebarton Senior College. He has previously completed his High School Diploma, and attained certificates in Social Work. Currently he is focusing on his Certificate 1 in Building and Construction so he is able to be more hands-on with the completion of the temple.
Although it’s difficult to imagine he has much time left between his study, volunteering, and fund-raising we asked what a typical day in the life of a Buddhist monk looks like. Muny says that he spends a lot of his day in meditation practice. Eating is only permitted between the hours of 6am and noon, because the physical act of eating can create a distraction from the focus required for meditation, which is practiced in the afternoon and evening.
Muny himself seems to be a testimony to the benefits of meditation. During our interview, he is quick to laugh and has quite a playful personality, but it’s also clear he’s deeply focused on the conversation and sits quite ‘still’ in the room. This makes him a relaxing and happy presence to be around.
Anyone with an interest in Buddhism or meditation can pay Muny a visit at the temple site, at 28 Laxton Road, MacDonald Park. You will be welcome!
Photo credits to Darren Clements Photography and Bill Doyle, Council's Revegetation Officer.
See more pics of our teams work in Playford and beyond at the COP Biodiversity and Landscape Flickr account.